Thursday, April 9, 2015

Voting in Ferguson, MO: update

It’s a good headline story, but look deeper and find a sour spoiler.

You remember Ferguson, MO. White cop shot unarmed black man last August. All hell broke loose. The cop, in the end, wasn’t prosecuted. Almost all-white town government and police force in a community of about 21,000, two-thirds of residents are black. Only one of six town councilmen is black.

Well, there was a big change on Tuesday. Voters put three black representatives into town council seats….probably the first time in history that happened.

That’s the good news part, of course. The mayor is white and he can cast the deciding vote if the six-member council deadlocks on any issues. We’ll see what happens.
The bad news part is this: Barely more than 29% of the folks who are old enough to vote in Ferguson turned up at the polls. That’s a big improvement over the 12% turnout in 2014. It’s a darn shame that 71% of Ferguson folks didn’t bother to go to the polls and send a message to the power structure in the town.

Too bad the folks in Ferguson didn’t set a spectacular example for every place in America where the mix of residents—whether minorities or not—is not represented in elective positions of authority and power.

Two out of three residents in Ferguson are black. Think democracy. Think about ideal expectations and a strictly mechanical system of values: it stands to reason that there should be mostly black faces in the police force and town government.

That notion doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Painful, depressing reality in Ferguson re-affirms once again that the democratic ideal isn’t playing out in our country.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015

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