As I'm certain most people are aware by now, a member of the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee, William Larsha, plans to sponsor a resolution that the executive committee back Jake Ford in the upcoming election for Tennessee's 9th District Congressional seat. West Tennessee Liberal and Leftwing Cracker have both written magnificent pieces about it that all should read, and Desi Franklin has written terrific responses in all corners of the blogosphere that should be read as well.
I don't personally know Mr. Larsha. If I've ever met him, I'm unaware of it. All that I have to base an opinion around are the statements of others, and he seems to be almost universally respected. He's an older man who lived through black Americans' struggle for equality, so his perspective is going to be a bit different than mine. He came of age in an era before Dr. King; My parents married a few months after Dr. King died, but I wasn't to become anything other than a vague idea for another four years.
It's hard to blame someone who has survived what Larsha has survived and seen what he has seen for not wanting to surrender what he undoubtedly sees as a sign of black progress.
Does that mean he's right? Not a chance.
My anger when I first heard about the resolution has been replaced by sadness on many levels. I'm sad that white politicians have been so traditionally unresponsive to the needs of black constituents that some believe only a black candidate is willing to fight for them. I'm sad that as a result of all that, someone with no record to run on is seen as a viable alternative to someone that has a long record of fighting for the oppressed.
I'm also sad for Mr. Larsha, as I think his position is an attempt to roll the clock back to good old days that have long since passed.
A black representative no longer means that blacks have representation. It's been ten long years since the 9th District has been represented by someone that I've seen really take any kind of a stand on behalf of black Americans.
Larsha's resolution is flawed because it is based on the premise that only a black representative will represent the interests of black constituents. If he was thirty years old, I could easily write this off as blatant racism. Larsha remembers the days when that was true.
I sympathize with the man based on that. But here's the real reason he can't be kicked off of the executive committee for this.
Is this or is this not the party that got into a huge row over the endorsement on non-Democrat judicial candidates recently? How did that turn out?
Has anyone put forth a resolution condemning Deidre Malone or any of the other Democrats that endorsed Bill Gibbons?
If Mr. Larsha is to be shown the door for this, then there's much more housecleaning to be done within the SCDP Executive Committee.
Larsha's resolution should be called out of order and spiked before it gets to a vote, just as he undoubtedly knows that it should based on the bylaws he helped to write.
But should his be the only one?
I know that some of the "Democratic" (In quotes because TN judicial races are supposed to be nonpartisan) candidates in the judicial races were grossly underqualified, and Steve Cohen is anything but underqualified. That's certainly a mitigating factor in the executive committee's judicial endorsements.
But at the end of the day, the question is very simple; Is the executive committee in the business of endorsing and supporting non-Democratic candidates or not?
I support Steve Cohen. I think the very fact that people believe Jake Ford's presence in this race is anything but superfluous is an insulting underestimation of Cohen, whom I believe will end up being the greatest champion that people of all races have had since Paul Wellstone died.
All I ask is that as people deliberate the fate of William Larsha, they try to look through the eyes of an old man who has seen the bad old days and is terrified that they'll return.
It's easy to show mercy to a staunch ally. It's much more difficult to show mercy to an opponent, but it's the hallmark of great leaders. Julius Caesar pardoned those who supported Pompey Magnus in the Roman Civil War. Abraham Lincoln waged war with the goal of returning Confederates to America again.
And the SCDP Executive Committee faces the same challenge--- To defeat an effort without destroying the individual that supports it.