Monday, January 6, 2014

Marion Barry -- "the only one who ever looked out for the people"

Last month, Petula Dvorak wrote about DC residents' diverse mayorial preferences in her Post article "Do you occupy Fentyville, the Gray Area, Barrytown or Loathemburg?" Regarding Barrytown, Dvorak reported:
But even if Skyland gets a Walmart, Richard Butler won’t have the mayor he wants most. Butler, 50, learned to cook while he was locked up. He’s now doing well as a line cook in one of the city’s new restaurants. Have any of the recent mayors made his life better? "All I want is Marion Barry," said Butler, who is African American and a permanent resident of Barrytown. "He’s the only one who ever looked out for the people, always said the right things to us."
The internet is full of various condemnations of Barry. I decided to listen to Councilmember Barry speak. I found a couple of recent videos of him speaking. The debate between Barry and this Fox newscaster is really painful to listen to, especially for those who don't often listen to this type of "news," but it is short. Barry does seem to be looking out for low-wage workers, not treating them paternalistically as objects of charity or as in need of more discipline and sacrifice (as in the "politics of respectability"), but as citizens and constituents. I particularly found his discussion at the end quite convincing.

In the short Post video below, Councilmember Barry refers to "the Sage of Anacostia," Frederick Douglass, who said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

At least in the Fox video, Councilmember Barry does make a demand for his constituents in the face of powerful forces, powerful forces who provide only two options: 1) Walmart jobs at wages that require workers to be on some form of state welfare or 2) no Walmarts and no Walmart jobs.

Are there other politicians in office who look out for people like Richard Butler mentioned in Dvorak's article? 

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