I have been doing extensive research on Southern history for a book that I am writing. Reading old newspapers is a peek back in time that is immeasurable. Newspapermen of that era had less of an agenda to sway the news than the ilk that exists today.
As I read the news report of March 14, 1885 it could have been something written today. Here’s what it said: “The inauguration of a new administration has a perceptible influence on the people here; they generally believe Mr. Cleveland [Grover A.] will make a good president, and that his Cabinet is admirably composed of strong men. The inauguration address was a fair document and the reference to the stability of the rights of Negroes relieves them of some degree of fear attending the change of government from the party of their friends [Republicans] to the party long looked upon as their foes [Democrats].
What struck me most is that the use of “fear mongering” almost 130 years after the commentary was written is still how politicians play the black community.
I read a Yahoo article online last week that professed how Puerto Ricans moving to Florida were changing the political landscape. They have been U.S. citizens since 1917 and they can move freely between the island and the mainland like any other citizen. That article told of politicians coveting their votes and how they could be the swing decision makers in close races between Democrats and Republicans.
So why is it that when it comes to Black people being decision makers in close elections, we are either supposed to stay with the Democrats or else we get the “fear” politics as if a Republican president or governor will be the end of our world? If you were alive from 1977 until 2003, if you bought a house in Illinois during that time, if you got a job or lived on welfare, you did it all under a Republican governor (Jim Thompson 1977-1991; Jim Edgar 1991-1999; George Ryan 1999-2003).
Now I care less who you vote for in regards to any office. But what I do care about is the continuous fear mongering politics which was a very legitimate concern for our ancestors who were just 20 years out of slavery in 1885 and an absolute insult to us in 2014. If we are taken for granted by one group and ignored by the other, then our vote should be courted and not so easily given away. I listened to the debate between the current Governor Pat Quinn and his challenger Bruce Rauner when they were at the DuSable Museum and neither impressed me.
The panel asking those candidates questions were supposed to be seeking answers of special interest to the black community. I wish I had been there to ask my plethora of question like: Why didn’t either of them choose an African-American or female running mate? (Keep in mind that Pat Quinn became governor initially when Blagojevich went to jail—so running mates do matter). Next, would either of them establish a law to prevent local government from abusing the power of “eminent domain?” There are a number of Westsiders living near Douglas Park who got letters telling them their property would be taken and purchased at the depressed rate in 2008 for the Olympics and the only reason it fell through was because we lost the bid. Would either of them support removing the CPS from the mayor’s control and back to the state? Lastly if a fairy-government-godmother granted them one wish for any program that they could get implemented in the black community immediately—what would it be? A question like that would show just how much they have thought or not thought about us.
Lastly Judge Clayton Crane who sentenced Howard Morgan to prison after Chicago police officers shot him 28 times is up for re-election. Can you think of 28 reasons why he should lose his seat on the bench? Make sure you punch “NO” on number 226.
The General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Early vote or vote early that day.