As pundits ponder election results and the playing of the race card in places like Philadelphia and Mississippi, there’s a story in the capital of the Confederacy that should not be overlooked.
The people of Richmond, VA–58% of whom are black–are not allowed to vote for their own mayor. (They have a city council member who acts as figurehead mayor while a city manager runs the government.) On yesterday’s ballot was a proposition that would allow them to do so, a proposition supported by nearly every former mayor, black and white. The only opposition came from currently elected black politicians like the acting mayor and a powerful state senator, Henry Marsh.
The proposition passed with an astonishing 80% of the vote, and it carried every council district, including the majority black districts. So what is the reaction of the black elected officials who represent these voters?
Sen. Marsh predicts a “race war” in Richmond if direct democracy is “forced” upon them. Now, the phrase “race war” has a particularly sinister resonance in the South. It’s also odd to hear someone threaten violence because you GAVE him the right to vote.
There is universal agreement that the city government is incompetent and corrupt. One councilmember just left for the federal pen and another is currently under indictment for bribery. The only answer from the black Democrats running this once-proud city is to say “You must keep us crooks in power because we’re black! And if you don’t…watch out.”
If the pun weren’t so offensive, I’d be tempted to call it blackmail.
But this pattern of black politicians demeaning and threatening black citizens to keep them in political line is all too common across the country. The black voters have demanded change. The black elected officials are going to the courts and the state legislature to stop the will of these voters.
This is a fight worth watching.