Thursday, September 16, 2010

On Fenty & Why Ta-Nehisi Coates is Mistaken

On his blog over at, Ta-Nehisi Coates blames Adrian Fenty, who recently lost his mayoral bid for reelection as governor of the District of Columbia and Michelle Rhee, the Chancellor of the DC public schools for not sufficiently selling voters on their policy of change for DC. 

Coates notes that:
In a democracy, persuasion is a necessary aspect of politics. Large-scale reform certainly complicates persuasion, but the two aren't antithetical. 
It is true that persuasion is an important component of politics, but did the voters of DC really need Fenty and Rhee to tell them how bad the schools were before the Fenty administration came into power and how much things have improved?  If they were not persuaded by the actual improvement to their lives is there much that Fenty and Rhee could have done to persuade them that Fenty deserved to be reelected--short of promising to abandon his reform agenda? Perhaps more pertinently, what if there was a correlation between the aloof and gruff attitudes and the results?

Maybe it's time to spread the blame around.  Maybe voters should be blamed for not retaining an administration that was hellbent on making sure that DC's black kids had future.  Voters should be blamed for rejecting Fenty because he was not the right type of black person.    Voters should be blamed for rejecting someone who was fighting on their behalf against entrenched interests.  So maybe he was a little arrogant or aloof (for the sake of argument let's assume so), but were his policy prescriptions effective?  If they were and the voters rejected him nonetheless, then the blame lies with the voters and not with Fenty and Rhee. 

No comments:

Post a Comment