Create Political "Pre-Sequences and Pre-Percussions"!!! -- Mayor Muriel Bowser
"Let us forgo the foolishness and ineffectiveness of friendly advocacy."
"Power concedes nothing without a DEMAND....."
"If the recent wave of standoffish manners of some government officials and the passive-aggressiveness of others are any indications, then that means the Bowser administration is smarting from the narrative that I'm putting forth in both written and spoken word."
So much for there being political "consequences and repercussions". DC voters need to start now creating political "pre-sequences and pre-percussions". Voting a mayor out because he or she didn't do a good job (however one might define that) has never caused the next mayor to actually do a good job -- or even a better one.
Former DC mayor Vince Gray went so far as to organize a One City Summit on February 11th, 2012 -- to the tune of $600,000 -- so that he could hear the concerns of his constituents . Some 2,000 Washingtonians weighed in and said that one of their top concerns was the lack of affordable housing. That's still the case with no end in sight more than five years later. Making demands at a government-organized event and voting him out almost three years later didn't cause him or his successor to meet our demands. It's time for a new set of tactics.
Ms. Bowser, much like Vince Gray before her, has given us a government-organized forum where we can "inundate" her with our demands -- the fact that they are over-structured such that we don't ever get to the crux of the issue that brought us there notwithstanding. Unlike him, she's done so multiple times -- annually. Attending government-organized forums with pre-set topics of discussion is not the new tactic we need. Frenetic protests and rallies have rendered better results.
As of the writing of this post, we have a year and a few days until the next mayoral election, which has been moved back from September to June 2018 -- to the detriment of Mayor Muriel Bowser. We have a mayor whose platform included creating a better response to homelessness, but which we've yet to see -- more than two years after she took office. We also have (no state government to serve as a buffer between the local and federal governments and) a president who, under the leadership of Mick Mulvaney, is considering eliminating the social safety net altogether -- in the hopes that people will seek and find living-wage jobs while hungry and homeless.
Giving people what they really need, such as a GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME AND a path to a living- or housing-wage job, has proven to work. However, the Trump administration's policies don't seem to be data-driven, based on studies or rooted in rational thinking at all. Here's a practical plan for Trump, Carson and Mulvaney:After all, anyone knows that waking up on a concrete sidewalk with an empty stomach is the absolute best incentive for seeking and actually finding work -- in spite of the job market. right??? Taking the last crumbs from those who lack sufficient sustenance won't actually cause them to do better for themselves -- unless you see revolution as an improvement, as I do.
1 -- GIVE a man a fish. (shelter, HUD vouchers, food stamps etc.)
2 -- GIVE a man knowledge of how to fish. (job training for living- & housing-wage jobs)
3 -- GIVE a man money to buy fishing equipment. (a guaranteed minimum income)
4 -- GIVE a man a place to store and cook the fish (affordable housing)
5 -- GIVE a man the ability to purchase sides for the fish platter. (ex: affordable health care)
Muriel Bowser is no "Donito Trumpolini". I'll GIVE her that much. However, when the federal budget is finalized and its hurtful impacts are fully understood, there will be a MAD rush by local advocates to get the DC Council to replace the federal cuts to social services with local tax dollars. Hundreds of us will pack City Hall, as we did in 2011 (when the issue was a supposed $20.5M revenue shortfall in the local budget), and we'll inundate the council with our demand that the social safety net be mended.
It's worth noting here that, once the chief executive of a government sends his or her budget proposal to the legislature, the chief executive generally doesn't weigh in again. In DC that means that we have to approach 12 council members and the chairman with our concerns -- a much more daunting task than dealing with one mayor. Besides, very little of the executive's budget proposal gets changed by the legislature. Furthermore, the cuts made by the mayor or the federal government serve as a baseline which the DC Council can use whereby to say that they reversed half of the social service cuts -- albeit for a group of people whose sustenance was already insufficient before the latest round of cuts. This allows the council to come off as heroes and heroines (not"sheroes").
This demonstrates why we who advocate for the needy must frame the conversation ourselves. People don't need us to laud legislators for returning half of the proposed social service cuts back to a budget that was already half of what's necessary to meet the need. The baseline for our demands should not be what the executive proposed, but what people actually need. We should stop merely asking public officials to bring us from "worse" and "back to bad" by reversing a portion of the cuts ; and, we should help them calculate people's needs irrespective of the budget. After calculating the need, we can determine how much money it would take to meet that need and ensure that the budget is sufficient -- and backed by a plan for social uplift.
Letting government shape the conversation is a step backwards. Let this blog serve as evidence that I'm not guilty of any such crime. If the recent wave of standoffish manners of some government officials and the passive-aggressiveness of others are any indications, then that means the Bowser administration is smarting from the narrative that I'm putting forth in both written and spoken word -- not so much the narrative about stepped-up tactics and revolution as the one about the failures of government, especially of the current administration. This blog scares the mess out of them. (Be sure to share this post widely. Thanks.) Oh, how I'd love to be a fly on the wall during a cabinet meeting and hear Bowser respond to things I've written!!!!
Our new tactic needs to have ALL of the following characteristics:
1 -- Unlike Trump-era policies, it's backed by facts.
2 -- It occurs in a manner that is not organized by and controlled by government.
3 -- It makes ineffective and draconian government very uncomfortable.
4 -- We are able to reassemble in larger numbers with stepped-up tactics.
5 -- It forces government to keep our demands at the fronts of their minds.
We need to develop a manner for pressuring the sitting AND incoming mayors into meeting our demands -- even getting future-Mayor Racine to do what he can as AG to advance the fight. We must use immense pressure, as opposed to counting on goodwill. As a matter of fact, we need to have a "Plan A" and a "Plan B".
Plan A: Get the current administration of Muriel Bowser to realize that the five-year plan to end homelessness is getting further and further off track; and then, use the threat of voting for Karl Racine as ammunition to force the mayor to make the ICH redouble its efforts to make homelessness "rare, brief and non-recurring". I'm even willing to help the administration to do the math and thereby to make the revised plan a success.
I've promised Mayor Bowser that, if her administration decreases the city's homeless population by some 2,500 (or so) people to less than 5,000 by January 2018, then I'll quit advocating and support her re-election bid -- once the count results are issued in mid-May 2018. I doubt the ICH will come through in that respect; but, if they do, then I'll keep my promise. Those who know how much of a pain in the neck I can be would expect the mayor to find $25M ASAP and to use it to house some 1,200 families containing 4,000 people immediately. I won't hold my breath waiting.
Plan B: Start now feeding DC Attorney-General Karl Racine some ideas on how to decrease homelessness and create affordable housing at a substantial pace. (I know of at least one organization that has begun to do that; but, it needs to be a concerted, citywide effort.) If and when Muriel Bowser is voted out in the June 2018 Democratic Primary -- DC's de facto election, there needs to be a clear and discernible demand that Mr. Racine adequately address homelessness and make good on our demand for affordable housing.
Just voting Bowser out doesn't get us there. Large groups of denizens sending the message through continual meetings and rallies as well as exit polls that make our desires clear help to get us there. We can't leave any leeway for the pundits to spin her impending loss as a mater of changing demographics, a poorly run campaign or low turnout of certain voting blocks. If the message is clear, then Mr. Racine will think about our demands day and night, lest he meet the same fate.
Before I learned that AG Karl Racine planned to run for mayor, I was suggesting that we pit former mayor/ current councilman Vince Gray against current Mayor Muriel Bowser so as to see which of them might do better by the homeless during the lead-up to next year's vote -- and which one would earn a second term. It's fair to say that I favor pressure tactics -- the kind that force a politician to get the results we want. We don't seem to have a critical mass of Washingtonians who see the value in that.
But we have at least 150 people who were willing to go to City Hall recently where they, the advocates, had organized an over-structured advocacy event with a narrow focus on the disabled homeless -- effectively continuing and reinforcing the nine-year old pattern of ignoring those whose primary challenge is finding a living- or housing-wage job. Though it was less than two weeks after the news that DC Government forfeited a $15.8M federal grant for affordable housing, I was probably the only person in attendance who mentioned how foolish it is to advocate for more affordable housing money from a local government that forfeits federal grants for affordable housing. On June 13th we'll have a 100-person meeting at the office of the department that gave the money back, so we can talk about ending homelessness -- no joke. Truth IS often stranger than fiction.
Maybe it has to get worse before it gets better. Bearing that possibility in mind, I'll continue to point out the glaring failures of the Bowser administration until they are fixed or she is voted out -- hopefully with there being a clear and unmistakable message from voters that it was due to her failures to the city's poor -- especially the homeless. Then, maybe those who voted her out will work together to keep our demands hanging over the head of Mayor Karl Racine unless and until he meets them.....
Employing the aforementioned tactics and promoting the narrative set forth in this blog post until the June 2018 DC Democratic Primary will help to create a local political environment of "pre-sequences and pre-percussions"