State Senator Ed Murray dropped out of the race for mayor of New Orleans. In his statement he cited financial reasons as well as not wanting to divide the city by race in a runoff against Mitch Landrieu. That's a little interesting because despite all the loses after Katrina New Orleans is still 60% African American. An election that split on race should have benefited someone like Senator Murray. I believe that if he was sure he could win the financial sacrifice would have been worth it. I think he's dropping out because he's not certain that enough African American voters are going to come out during the election to offset the black vote Mitch Landrieu is going to get. That's a legitimate concern. I understand why Mitch Landrieu waited awhile before he decided to run. He and his camp see the same thing I am seeing. The old black political power structure is dead and the new generation hasn't gained enough ground to challenge him. We may not need a runoff for this election. It could be a Landrieu landslide. There was a time not too long ago where all a man like Ed Murray had to do was stand up there and not embarrass himself to get elected. He can't do that now because the black voting base in the city has no energy and no passion for politics. It's not Senator Murray's fault. He just ran for mayor at a bad time.
It doesn't take a political science major to figure this out. All you need to do is pay attention to the last 30 years of this city's history. I like James Perry, Nadine Ramsey and Troy Henry. They are all young and new enough to the political scene in this city to build a foundation and get their names out there and make a difference if that's what they want to do. The problem they are having this year is that they are trying to energize a base that has little confidence and hope in their political leaders and that's a hard thing to fix in the short time of this election cycle. If they were going to do this effectively enough to win they should have started last year going door to door and explaining themselves to the folks in the neighborhoods. Win or lose they should still start doing that now and continue throughout the next few years because the people need to have their faith restored. They lost it a long time ago because even though we had the power to elect men and women from our own community, we failed to create a better quality of life for the most struggling part of the community killing our progress and sucking the support for political leaders out of this city. Sure a lot more black people made money from contracts and high profile positions in the last three decades but most of those people were already connected and in position to have that kind of success.
We never changed the mind state that made people think that you had to know someone to get ahead and it was almost impossible to do well if you didn't. That's why so many people we know hit the road for other cities and never came back. The people that did stay and try everyday to make things work are aggravated because we know what we don't have and get reminded of it everyday. It's pretty obvious. Just look at our schools for instance. A few weeks ago I was driving with my girl and we passed the old Fannie C. Williams school site. I looked over and saw those trailers and flipped out. "How in the hell it's been four years since the storm and those babies are still going to school in damn trailers?" Now I know the state took over the schools after the storm but it's not like when the brothers and sisters were running it before the storm they were top of the line. This is why no matter how valid the case is for local control of the school system you don't see thousands of parents down there fussing about it. They have already suffered themselves through poor local leadership. This is why the leading black candidate in the mayor's race can drop out from the weight of a candidate that's already been beaten more than once for the mayor's office and whose campaign has been on cruise control since he announced. That's why when people announce new things or bring up new issues dealing with the city no one gets excited or pays attention. Morale for the political process is low and no matter how many positive things are going on in some one's life in this city they don't contribute any of it to political leadership unless they roll in that circle. If the little of what we have was gained through our own perseverance and hard work, why does it matter who is in charge? The disenchanted working and middle class are the key to the future of this city. They don't much attention from the media but there are more of us here than anyone else. They are the ones that stayed in other places with better schools and job opportunities after the storm. They are the ones most likely to get frustrated with how things are now and leave for greener pastures. They are the reason Ed Murray dropped out of the race because they are not coming out to vote just because some one's black. The only way it would have happened is if he would have turned Mitch Landrieu into a KKK member and scared everyone during the runoff and that wouldn't have helped the city. Other than a person running for president the power of that symbolism is gone. Who cares if a few rich black people get richer because a black person has the power to give them contracts if 300,000 other folks are grinding everyday to survive. If deciding who gets the big money at the top is the only difference in our situation then it doesn't matter who the mayor is to regular people. It's time for a new effective approach.