Thursday, November 04, 2010

Post-Election Observations, Part One – Spaces and Places

The most telling image of post-Election Day coverage in the local paper was the map showing the partisan divide among the first-ever county council. Republicans won only three of the eleven seats, but the geographic extent of their districts comprises more than half of the county’s land. Of equal significance, the GOP districts surround the more densely populated Democratic center districts like a doughnut surrounds a hole.

The twin factors of space and place epitomize both much of the county’s history and the challenges to be faced by the new council, even as its members ready themselves for office in January.

Looking at “place”, the eight districts [2-4 and 7-11] comprise the inner core of Cuyahoga County: the City of Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs. The three GOP districts [1, 5, and 6] constitute what could be considered a necklace of sorts. The back doors of these districts all touch adjacent counties. Without the exception only of tiny Oakwood Village, 32 the municipalities that make up this GOP turf are overwhelmingly white.

The “space” disparity – three outer districts have a greater land mass than the eight central districts – suggests that the occupants of those districts enjoy a less crowded sense of community, a fact likely attributable to greater household income and wealth.

We are discussing the obvious here, but we do ourselves no service as a community if we pretend the obvious does not exist. The Plain Dealer, for instance, points to Ed FitzGerald’s victory in the county executive race as evidence that the Democratic Party organization is still intact. Left undiscussed is the fact that Ed FitzGerald went looking for votes in Hough, Glenville, Warrensville Heights, East Cleveland, and Bedford Heights. How many of his five opponents honored these area with their campaign efforts? [Bus signage doesn't count.]

Why would the strapped and the trapped -- welfare recipients, struggling single parents, senior citizens, the outcast and the left-behind – and other hard-working citizens vote for some of the wealthiest candidates this community has ever had, when those candidates did not even bother to come meet them, nor offer any credible programs or initiatives that would address their issues?

Black people are often described, accurately, as “the most dependable” part of the Democratic Party base. Sometimes I think it’s because Republicans make them that way.

I will have more to say on this in the next installment. But I will add early on that we can’t begin to solve our complex issues unless we begin by acknowledging and naming them. And I will go on record as saying that neither race nor gender should play a role in the selection of the first council president.


Tim Ferris said...

a microcosm?

Richard said...

Hi Tim, not sure exactly where you would have me go with that. I do think that unless we can deal with issues of common humanity re black/white/brown, etc, rich-poor, innercity/inner ring/outer ring, we have no hope as a community. But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.

Anonymous said...

Until Americans of all stripes learn how to vote with their heads and not their hearts; until Americans learn to see the bigger picture encompassed by politics and economics; until black people stop expecting their centuries old oppressor to rescue them, rather than taking responsibility for working together and rescuing themselves; until all that happens nothing will change, certainly not for the better good of all.

Anonymous said...

African American's that think they know about politics need to demystify politics for those that have no clue. Most African American's need a therapy called "Recovery From Slavery." Unfortunately, ninety percent of African American's gave up their self determination at least twenty-five years ago.

Richard said...

Anon #1: I agree with you. Anon #2. I agree with your first sentence but not with your last. That's one of the reasons for this blog, I suppose. The second we'd have to talk about!

I would add that people of all stripes and backgrounds need a more fundamental understanding of politics, economics and their relationship. It certainly was not a useful part of my public school curriculum.