DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's "Progress" on Homelessness & Her Benefit From A 2nd American "Civil" War
Will she show STRENGTH during another major conflict in DC???
(1968 vs 2018)
It might be her ONLY ticket to re-election.
[P]oor people tend to stand up for their rights more readily after partaking in a war.
As was the case earlier today (August 14th, 2017), people often ask me how DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is doing when it comes to addressing homelessness -- a central piece of her political platform. I explain to them that she's doing something; but, she's getting further and further behind the ball. If they have the appetite for a longer explanation, I explain to them that she now has to accomplish a net decrease of 2,500 homeless people per year through 2020 in order to meet the goal of her five-year plan; whereas, that number was 1,460 (or so) on October 1st, 2015 (the official start date of the plan). With me having more of a propensity than those who compile the data concerning DC homelessness do to tease out all of the messages that those numbers hold, I've found yet another set of messages -- this set speaking to the shifting public opinions and feelings concerning her efforts as mayor:
In DC's April 2014 Democratic primary (our de facto election in this Democratic town), low voter turnout allowed her to win with votes from less than 10% the city's 450,000 registered voters. That speaks to people's lack of faith in the system and to the ineffectiveness of boycotting the vote. We need a new set of strategies that pressure the sitting mayor into actually making good on the will of the voter base -- including the 90% who didn't vote for her.
In 2015 there was the hope that a mayor who made a campaign promise to address homelessness might even use it as a springboard for addressing an underlying cause of homelessness -- i.e. gentrification. That year we counted 7,298 homeless people. In the final weeks of 2015 Mayor Bowser began what has turned into an almost two-year campaign (at this point) to shut down homeless tent cities (even in the absence of suitable alternatives). It has since turned into a cat and mouse game or a game of Whack-A-Mole.
In 2016 we had the opportunity to see how Bowser deals with adversity and unforeseen challenges. On February 11th, 2016 the Bowser administration held meetings in seven of DC's eight wards to begin public discussion around replacements to the family shelter -- after limiting the public's ability to give meaningful input by only giving people two days' notice about these meetings. That's not to speak of the fact that the admin failed to teach the public about the homeless issue before asking the public to weigh in on the shelter plan. It got ugly. Bowser should have known better -- should have foreseen the NIMBY-ism. This is especially true when one considers that her predecessor mentioned the impending NIMBY-ism in the waning months of his term.
We learned in 2016 that the number of homeless people had risen to 8,350. The draconian policies of former mayor Vince Gray were rightly blamed insomuch as he limited access to shelter for homeless families; whereas, Bowser opened the floodgates so that all in need could apply for the help they needed. Soon thereafter, she too would begin to seek ways of limiting access to shelter for families. Her administration identified the problem that led to the increase, but didn't identify a suitable solution. They later sought to implement the type of policy that they realize drove the increase.
In 2017 we would learn that homelessness had actually decreased by 877 people to 7,473. This presented a perfect opportunity for the administration to both laud its progress and to acknowledge that this progress is insufficient to meet the goal of its own five-year plan -- a perfect mix of self-praise and self-criticism. The Bowser administration chose ONLY to praise its progress while making NO public admission of its inadequacy.
In 2018 Muriel Bowser will seek re-election. She currently has strong support from 20% of Washingtonians and wavering support from another 47%, with 55% of her voting base being dissatisfied with her "progress" on affordable housing and 62% being dissatisfied with her "progress" on addressing homelessness. Unlike 2014 when the primary occurred a month before the number of homeless people the city had that year was published, the 2018 primary will take place in June -- the month after that number is published. Should the number rise, with assistance from Trump's 'dumb-estic" policies, this figure would lend itself to the argument that Bowser was unable to follow through on and succeed at her own pet project -- the fact that a five year plan was made by an administration with a four-year term (and no council promise to maintain the effort) notwithstanding. Even those with short memories will recall the May 2018 article about the homeless numbers as they cast their ballots in June. War -- at home or abroad -- might be the mayor's only saving grace and chance at saving face. No kidding.
Given the prospects for a war that begins with a disproportionate response from Trump to a North Korean attempt to attack Guam or the more likely prospects for a second American "Civil" War that springs from Trump's underwhelming response to White supremacists who have more than 700 confederate statues to "defend", Muriel Bowser could become the first elected mayor that DC has had during a major conflict since adopting home rule in 1973. (During the King Riots of 1968, the city had a mayor who was appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson.) Should such a crisis unfold within the next eight months and trigger another DC National Guard deployment, it would afford Bowser a prime opportunity to show strength in a time of trouble. For her sake, she might actually hope for such a crisis.
Speaking of firsts, Rev. Glenna Huber who began as Church of the Epiphany's new rector (pastor) earlier this month may very well be the first Afro-American woman to hold that post in Epiphany's 175-year history. I share the opinion of others who also believe that she is starting out like a ball of fire. I mention her here for multiple reasons. Epiphany serves the homeless; sits a few short blocks from the White House (and has allowed activists to bed down in the church); served as a hospital during the First American Civil War and could end up playing a significant role in confronting White supremacy and in assisting the Bowser administration's efforts to address homelessness.
Now that the church has a permanent rector (following the retirement of Rev. Randolph Charles in May 2015), we can make concrete decisions concerning how the church will work with city officials to help the homeless -- something the church was unable to do when the MLK, Jr. Library (four blocks from the church) closed in March 2017 for a three-year renovation. The power vacuum has finally been filled.
What's more is that, on August 13th Rev. Glenna decided to, for the most part, forgo preaching around the scriptures of the week that were set forth in the Book of Common Lectionary and to instead preach mainly about calling those who protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee out for being the White supremacists and KKK members that they are. She admonished the congregation to stand against and speak out against all forms of wrong. As her second sermon at this location, it was a good sermon for letting her congregation know where she is coming from -- which is indeed a good place.
She did make brief mention of Peter commanding Jesus to bid him "Come", then walking on the water and then crying out for help. She used his vocal manner to segway into how we should speak out. I don't recall her referencing scripture at any point thereafter, not that it's a problem.
Why "Civil" War???
I have absolutely no appreciation for sensationalism and do my best to avoid exhibiting any. However, we must remain vigilant and try to stay ahead of the grim realities of our time. Though DC is bound to be well-protected, it's worth noting that Charlottesville, Virginia is a mere 2.5-hour drive from DC and the racial incidents that occurred there on August 12th, 2017 and led to three deaths could very easily make their way to DC. The promise of White supremacists to "do something bigger" is all the more reason to think that they will cover those 116 miles soon. Furthermore, it's likely that they will eventually come here to pay homage to their lord and master in the White House -- from which thousands of anti-racists marched on the evening of August 13th. Whether or not we see a full-on "civil" war, the ingredients are there and certain truths have become self-evident:
1 -- The efforts to save confederate statues is more about keeping racism entrenched than it is about preserving history.
2 -- We still have a lot of entrenched, systemic racism and racial tension in the U.S.
3 -- This country hasn't fully succeeded at addressing a problem that it supposedly began addressing in the 1960's -- i.e. Jim Crow. They've only caused the haters to go into their sleeper cells. This leaves me to wonder if our collective governing system is "govern-mentally retarded".)
4 -- The Trump presidency has emboldened the racists and White supremacists.
All of this could lead to over 700 fights across the country to preserve confederate statues (and another 800 fights over other confederate memorials) and those fights could converge on DC in the form of unfettered White supremacist rallies in a city that pre-emptively deployed over 2,000 cops to protect 30 neo-Nazis from 600 non-violent counter protesters on April 20th, 2009 -- Adolf Hitler's 120th birthday. (The 2009 event and the recent Charlottesville incident call into question the extent to which people have the right to free speech -- whether it should be limited by other, more prevalent national core values or not granted when the needed ratio of cops to free speakers is ridiculously high.)
That, of course, is why it could happen. I would offer that the reasons for which a second American "civil" war needs to happen is that the first didn't completely free the slaves and the non-violence promoted by MLK, Jr and others like Gandhi and Malcolm X hasn't worked well enough. Besides, a war here in the states would cause many of our troops who are overseas to be called "back from the front" to protect the "homeland", thus liberating other countries from American imperialism and striking a devastating blow to American-brand capitalism.
Why World War III???
In the spirit of accepting grim realities and getting ahead of them, let's face it: The mentally ill North Korean president attacking an American territory could lead us into World War III. (A friend recently began saying her "Good-byes" to myself and others, just in case Mr. Kim decides to put a missile on Trump's dinner table.) If "Trumpolini" were to make good on his promise to Kim Jong Un after the latter fires at Guam, the Korean missile would likely be intercepted and the North would be obliterated. Russia and China would likely attack the U.S. for overreacting and annihilating their little brother for his unsuccessful act of ballistic mischief. Meanwhile, back at the front, Bashar Al-Assad might show support for his friend Vladimir Putin by finishing off whatever American troops weren't called back to the States from their war against ISIS. Whoever the Syrians miss could be gotten by the Iranians, which could lead to better relations between Syria and Iran.
This is a possible -- if not likely -- scenario. However, a second American Civil War (which could metamorphose into a revolution), being the lesser of these two evils, could prevent the expedited end of humanity that was all but assured by our Electoral College and failed electoral system on December 19th, 2016.
Why either war???
While neither saber rattling nor the presence of a mentally unstable head of state is a clear sign of imminent war, the two together plus the ingredients of a weakening American imperialism and Trump's inability to consolidate his administration (without a another war anyway) make it very likely that a Trans-Pacific war is in the immediate offing. The lesser war within our borders would force long-suppressed tensions into the open -- which is a plus and much-preferred by Yours Truly who hates passive-aggressiveness and all of its indirectness. As a matter of fact, that tension release has already begun to happen.
An additional benefit of "civil" war in DC that I've yet to mention is that, the destruction of many condominiums and office buildings would "clear" the way for the construction of affordable housing. Let's hope that these spaces don't sit vacant and blighted for over 25 years, as was the case following the MLK Riots. Let's hope that Black neighborhoods don't fall prey to redlining again. If either should begin recur, let's hope that people take a stand.
After all, poor people tend to stand up for their rights more readily right after partaking in a war. Consider how the MLK, Jr. Movement began 10 years after the end of World War II and how homeless Vietnam-era vets stood against Ronald Reagan in the 1980's.
I can't end without mentioning the final benefit of a war that touches DC: Mayor Muriel Bowser would be forced to realize the purposes and benefits of male aggression and she'd be forced to forgo committing even the most subtle acts of misandry on her part.