The Purpose of a Town Hall Meeting


 
 Within a decade after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I could see the direction of the political winds for persons of African ancestry.  The more that Blacks were being selected to political offices, the worse our conditions were getting.   In other words, we are flying backwards.  White supremacists hope that this flight in the wrong direction is irreversible.
 
 The political process for Blacks starts with the selection rather than the election of political candidates.  Soon after Reconstruction, Blacks were barred from the selection of political candidates.  They could, when permitted, only elect candidates.  This exclusion of Blacks from the selection process was easy.  Blacks had failed to form their own political party.
 
 The U.S. Supreme Court ended the white primary in 1944 but Blacks were still discouraged from entering the polling booths.  When the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted, most Blacks were under the Democratic tent and the Democratic Party was able to groom leading Blacks for electoral politics.  Only leading Blacks could win political primaries.  “He who pays the piper calls the tune”.
 
 With the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, rich whites are at liberty to choose Black candidates who, otherwise, have limited alternatives in campaign financing.  This ruling has made it impossible for Blacks to enjoy political representation. It has had the same effect as the three-fifths provision of the U.S. Constitution. White supremacists are further empowered politically.
 
 On the Black side, the Black electorate has assigned its duties to Black selected officials.  This means that the Black selected officials draft laws for the Black electorate.  In practice, no major legislation has been passed since the tenure of Cong. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. to benefit Blacks in any state or federal legislative forum.
 
 In New York City, for example, the New York Police Department is riding roughshod over Blacks and Latinos by the use of oppressive tactics including “stop and frisk”.  City Councilman Jumaane D. Williams has proposed legislation requiring police officers to pass out business cards.  This gesture falls far short of amounting to remedial legislation.
 
 No other Black nor Latino member of the New York City Council has purposed any legislation to enjoin “stop and frisk”.  It is the electorate and not a legislator that must formulate appropriate legislation.  In the seventeenth century, the town hall meeting was first employed in Dorchester, MA to discuss proposed legislation.  In the Black community, there is still no device known as the town hall meeting.
 
 In the white community, there are also special interest groups, trade associations, advocacy groups and professional associations.  These groups also prepare legislation for their constituents.  In many instances, lobbyists are employed to walk proposed legislation through legislative bodies.  Similar membership bodies are missing from the Black community.
 
 Politics is about ideas.  Think tanks and town hall meetings, among others, generate ideas.  No well-funded think thanks nor town hall meetings exist in the Black community.  Instead, the Black electorate looks to Black selected officials for ideas.  Those officials are, in fact, messengers.  Power is in the people.
 
This is the same function of a white, elected official.  It is the white electorate that is responsible for initially drafting legislation.  Legislation is based on the needs of a people.  For example, whites join unions to strengthen collective bargaining.  The right to bargaining distinguishes a slave from a free person.  See the recall petition in Wisconsin.
 
 A town hall meeting is scheduled for Saturday, June 30 at 10:00 a.m. at the Elks Plaza, 1068 Fulton Street in Brooklyn to correct the role of Black selected officials from drafters of legislation to messengers.  This is the reason for the saying, “don’t blame the messenger for the message”.  In politics, there must be a message and it must originate in the electorate and not from Black selected officials.
 
 The right hand must also know what the left hand is doing.  There must also be a counter-attack to proposed, harmful legislation.  When the Black community is asleep at the switch, the outcome may be an enactment of a state’s “Stand Your Ground” law.  Once legislation is enacted, it can cause havoc.  “Stand Your Ground” laws in many jurisdictions came out of left field.  Blacks are in a reactive stance.  No Black legislator in Florida was awake at the switch.
 
 No Black person should go to the polls to vote in a primary or in a general election without first fashioning a Black agenda. This is a purpose of a town hall meetings.  The practice of “plantation politics” must end in our community.  In short, Blacks must institutionalize the voting process.
 
 The media has described the national economy as the primary issue in the 2012 presidential campaign.  President Barack Obama will have to run on his record but Mitt Romney will have to furnish an economic agenda for 2013.  If he fails to proffer a workable, economic agenda, his presidential campaign will go down the tubes abinitio.  As a group, whites do not, in general, practice “plantation politics”.
 
 A supplement to town hall meetings, for whites, is public affairs programming.  This is available at least on Sunday mornings.  This same programming is unavailable to Blacks even though it was written into the law in the 1960’s.  Whites have decided that Blacks prefer arts and entertainment instead of a discussion of politics.  Most white television executives have chosen to ignore the political needs of Blacks.
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