Mumia Abu-Jamal: No matter their color, politicians are failing people in hard times

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In December 2011, Black revolutionary Mumia Abu-Jamal finally overturned a death sentence imposed in 1982 when he was framed for a cop’s murder. After leaving death row, Abu-Jamal was still held in brutal solitary confinement for seven more weeks until protests forced his transfer into the general prison population. Now the movement turns to freeing him. The next action will be “Occupy the Justice Department” on April 24, Abu-Jamal’s 58th birthday. A rally and civil disobedience will be held at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, at 11 a.m. See you there!

Below are two of Abu-Jamal’s pungent critiques of elected officialdom.

Whom do they represent?

While the Occupy movement has certainly drawn attention to the discontent roiling in the depths of the American heart, they are a small percentage, those who have chosen to hit the streets just as cold weather begins to grip many parts of the nation. And while it may be that their numbers and breadth have been impressive, most people, even if they agree with many of their aims, have yet to take it to the streets, at least not yet.

But who can deny that discontent with the economic elite and their political servants is widespread? According to recent polls, Congress garners the support of a mere 10 percent of Americans. Or put quite another way, 90 percent of Americans don’t support Congress — 90 percent! When such an overwhelming percentage of citizens oppose the politicians in office, in what sense can this be called a democracy?

In a parliamentary system, used in most of Europe, such abysmal levels of public support would have necessitated a “no confidence” vote. But here in the states, a rigid, sclerotic political system has become a prison and an obstruction to most of the people, and politicians openly — and proudly — look to the narrow interests of the wealthy elites, those the Occupy movement derides as the one percent.

Thomas Jefferson, at the time of the great Shays’ Rebellion that shook the New England states, looked at such disorders as natural and healthy. Said Jefferson, “I hold it that a little rebellion every now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine, necessary for the sound health of the government. God forbid that we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion.” Think about that the next time you hear some neo-con or Tea Partier talk about the Occupiers as un-American. The people are rightly pissed at politicians who are the paid puppets of the plutocratic class. While neo-Rome burns, they light up their imported cigars with $100 bills.

With leaders like these

It has taken a while to reach this conclusion, but upon reflection, it is inescapable.

Why, after over a half century of the vote and the election of more Black political leaders than at any time since Reconstruction, are the lives, fortunes, prospects and hopes of Black people so grim?

Education is a shambles, with a drop-out rate nearing 50 percent in most central cities; Black communities are being gentrified into oblivion; joblessness stalks families by the highest percentage since such figures were first recorded; and Black families face foreclosure (and its concomitant result — homelessness) at rates far exceeding any other demographic: a direct result of the mortgage scams that lined the pockets of Wall Street.

In cities boasting Black mayors and Black police chiefs, police violence against Black so-called citizens continues unabated, and the prison-industrial-complex traps generations in chains.

One is forced to conclude that Black America suffers from similar maladies as those faced by continental African nations: neo-colonialism, where the political class gives the appearance of freedom and independence, whilst they are beholden to economic powers beyond their communities which decides policies and programs of exploitation of the People.

Sadly, more Black politicians does not equal more Black political power. For, in this surfeit of Black representation, Black voices of discontent are muted, while rage bubbles in Black hearts and minds.

And rather than Black politicians speaking for those who voted for them, they too are muted, more loyal to party than people — more anxious to not rock the boat, when water rushes through the breached hull.

They speak to them, preaching patience, while home burns. And they mimic white politicians, echoing their words, while ‘representing’ communities that could not be more desperate.

If Black politicians are to do the very same thing as their white colleagues, why have them at all?

What’s the difference?

Neo-colonialism at home and abroad.

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