current info

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Monday, January 02, 2012

Understanding how power is gained and wielded in Prince George's County, Maryland

             Understanding how power is gained and wielded in Prince George's County,   Maryland, as well as most other places that hold elections (and even those that don't) requires one to disavow him or herself of the notion that elections are about enabling the will of a majority. Winning an election in this county is about artfully cobbling together the smallest number of electoral partners necessary to win an election. For example, the current County Executive secured the votes of 206, 924[1] citizens.  Out of a total county population of  863,420, approximately 657,063 people were over the age of 18[2] meaning that the power to distribute resources and manage policies was gained by 34.5% of the adult population.  There were around 517,494 [3]  registered voters, so the effective margin of victory was around 40%. This means that a substantal number of the county's adult population had other ideas or even no ideas of how to govern.

               Prince George's County has a long been a stalwart of the Democratic Party and therefore is the easiest route to winning a seat at the table of power. This route requires crafting a coalition from the registered members of the party and working the primary system to ensure almost inevitable victory in the general election. By coalition, I mean a group of constituencies with identifiable issues and expectations that will have to be met to stay in power. This does not mean finding what is best for the most but was is possible for the least.

               In the 2010 primary, the vote that decided who would control the distribution of resources in the county, 94,123 people saw reason enough to vote, and 44,352 decided that the current executive could best address their particular issues. In other words, 6% of the total adult population felt that their opinions, views and needs would best address the hopes of the rest of the county. 6% decided where development would go, which libraries would stay open, how and if we should address infrastructure repairs in our established communities, and of course whether the environment mattered in all of this.

               This is not to cast aspersions on the current administration in any fashion,. for this is how politics works in the United States. The current county executive showed great skill in carefully crafting his core partnership, just as all the other politicians have through history in Prince George's County, in Maryland, and in the country. And to a certain extent crafting working constituencies is a skill much needed in management of government.

               Behind the number is another story; the story of money. Cui bono asked the Romans when the resources and power of the government were directed to one interest group over another. A leader needs to reward the support of his or her base with success before the next power shift (election). Reward means an increase in net worth; no one creates a political base by promising to reduce wealth for the base - no one. And increasing worth is not a crime, though short cuts to increased wealth can occasionally lead to criminal conduct.  6% of the adult population of Prince George's County will be expecting their net worth to increase before the next election. 86% will be expecting the same increase in wealth and bewildered if or when it does not happen.

               Diversity is a strength of Prince George's County. Out of diversity come new ideas and other political parties just waiting to be to explored.  The Democratic Party for the time being remains the most direct way to gain power, but even there only a small percentage choose to participate in the tools of governance. How do we reach the 86%[4] of adults in Prince George's County who show no interest in government until something goes wrong?

Prince George's County[5]  
·       Democratic Party 412,750;
·       Republican Party 46,716;
·       Green Party  757;
·       Constitutional Party 58;
·       Libertarian Party 790;
·       Unaffiliated (Independent) 47,592;
·       Other 21,605;
Total 530,268:  Inactive  8,287

[1] Election Summary Report. Summary For Jurisdiction Wide, All Counters, All Races
Gubernatorial General Election, State of Maryland, Prince George's County.
[2]  U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts. Data derived from Population Estimates, American Community Survey, Census of Population and Housing, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, State and County Housing Unit Estimates, County Business Patterns, Nonemployer Statistics, Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners, Building Permits, Consolidated Federal Funds Report, Last Revised: Friday, 23-Dec-2011  [accessed January 2, 2011]
[3] Election Summary Report. Summary For Jurisdiction Wide, All Counters, All Races
Gubernatorial General Election, State of Maryland, Prince George's County.
[4] Yes some of these are legal residents of other countries and not entitle to participate; and yes there are those who work here illegally providing inexpensive labor and reducing costs or citizens of this county - one of the short cuts to wealth production mentioned above.

No comments: