Political messenger with no message

July 29, 2014
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There is a very interesting phenomenon that happens in the AfricanAmerican community every two years for some, and every four years for others.

Even while you are reading this column, there are those individuals seeking political office, and those who have disdain for the currently elected officials having back-door, front-door and maybe even side-door meetings. The meetings are going on in every corner of the city.

This is the time when almost every African-American resident feels some sense of maybe, just maybe, we can change our current situation by electing new political leadership.

There are also politicians who, no doubt, will run candidates against current office holders. There are also those who just believe that change is always good. This is what many know as community politics.

The perplexing thing about this political phenomenon is that we as African-Americans are looking for a messenger who can convey the needs of our community. A messenger who will fight to be heard. A messenger who will be accessible to the people, but we are looking for a messenger who has no message.

I look at how vague our messengers are when they are addressing the African-American community. They can stand at our churches on Sunday morning and promise “a chicken for every pot,” and the crowds will go wild.

We can learn a lot from the Hispanic community.

While they have issues of health care, crime, racism, education, etc., they have a resounding message that they have given to their messengers – immigration reform.

I remember the Hispanic elected officials telling then-candidate Barack Obama, “If you want the Latino vote, then you have to develop a plan for immigration reform with a timeline for implementation.”

We can also learn from the gay and lesbian community.

They have come with a resounding message (not messenger) to fight for gay marriage. They have given their message to their messengers and have told the powers-that-be that you cannot have our vote without a commitment to gay rights.

So what happens with the message strategy is that no matter whether the person seeking political office is black, white or blue, they have been giving a concrete message that they have committed to.

What happens with the messenger strategy is we will keep getting nothing because we only want a new messenger, not message. It is time that will develop a message strategy.

There has to be a message that comes from the whole of our community. We must be able to say that we have a message for you. Now if you want our vote you will commit to our collective message.

Malcolm Crawford is the executive director of the Austin African American Business Networking Association. You can reach him at aaabna@yahoo.com or “like” AAABNA on Facebook.

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