Punk Politics: Why no presidential hopefuls showed up at The Jena 6 rally

Barack Obama came out in support of The Jena 6; he was the first to do so publicly. Hillary Clinton made a statement praising Mychal Bell’s case being thrown out. John Edwards made a statement on the issue. So on the surface, it looks like the democratic presidential wannabes are on the record here.

Let me tell you why this not only insufficient, but it is another example of [democratic] politicians’ lack of backbone on the issues that matter in America.

In case you forgot, this week should have reminded you that race not only matters in this country, but that it is the most passionate issue that people deal with on the regular. The funny thing is that a leader should care about the things that those they lead care about; a leader should act on issues that those they lead want action on; a leader should be an example to those that they lead, or wish to lead

The example set by these prospective leaders is this:

  • Don’t be bold
    Don’t take a risk on an issue that people care about. If you must speak out, do so in passive language that can easily be triangulated into a baseless stance.
  • Don’t show up on game day
    This event was honestly too easy. Simply showing up would have been enough to basically ensure the votes of the attendees of this rally. Showing up would also physically, tangibly demonstrate some non-lip-service level of support for a return to logical, fair criminal justice. I bet if this was in IL, Sen. Obama would have been there; I bet if this was in NC, Sen. Edwards would have shown up; I bet if this was in NY, Sen. Clinton would have understood that political necessity of being present at such an event.
  • Don’t show how you’ll be different
    One candidate choosing to stand in solidarity with demonstrators yesterday would have demonstrated an understanding of both the gravity of the state of race relations in this city/state/country, but also an understanding that the people who gave enough of a damn to be present need their leaders to give that much of a damn too.

I call this Punk Politics; the flip side of the politics of fear that have been in place during the entire Bush Administration. Politicians are now scared to take stances, scared to take risks, and scared to take action. Citizens are also being scared away from even thinking. What is this world coming to?

Who will be the person or politician that puts an end to this madness?

One Love. One II


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

3 responses to “Punk Politics: Why no presidential hopefuls showed up at The Jena 6 rally”

  1. Anonymous says :

    What about the republicans, what’s your take on them not even acknowleding the Jena 6 situation as a problem. This may not have been as much as we would have liked to have seen but it was not silence in it’s best form.

  2. Garlin II says :

    I’m not surprised by the Republican silence on this situation. Sadly, it is not a priority of their constituency, you know, giving a damn about justice and equal protection.

    My beef here is with the Democrats because they are supposed to be the ones who care. Sadder still, I’m not seeing much of a difference.

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