Strange Signs

Campaign Signs for Steve Cohen (D), Mark Luttrell (R), and Bill Oldham (R) in the same yard

There are a lot of things I don’t understand, and this picture is one of them.

How does someone support the most liberal member of the Tennessee delegation to Congress, and two Republicans who are anything but liberals?

I won’t rush to judgement. For all I know these folks are personal friends of all three candidates. But Cohen + Luttrell + Oldham just doesn’t compute in my mind.

What’s interesting is, I’ve been seeing it all over Memphis the past several weeks. Minivans, cars, trucks and yards with mixed signals. I’m not sure what to make of it.

There are a lot of possibilities. I’m sure the general populace is less partisan than I am, and as you move down the ticket to more local races, partisanship seems to have less impact than it does on a national level.

The truth is, partisanship has a lot more to do with what gets done locally than we know. Luttrell’s problems with labor groups falls in line nicely with Republican’s general disdain for workers organizing.

One of the most telling things about someone’s ability to manage is how the relationship with their subordinates works. The fact that every labor organization that is involved in law enforcement has endorsed Wade is telling. If you wouldn’t vote for your boss, then chances are your boss ain’t doing something right. I have to wonder what would come of organized workers in the County government if Luttrell is elected Mayor.

Labor issues aside, it’s clear that partisanship isn’t the prime motivator for folks that support Cohen, Luttrell, and Oldham, so what is?

Some might be wary of another Ford in office. While that may explain the support of Luttrell, it doesn’t explain the support of Oldham, so that rationale doesn’t hold water.

I’m sure if you asked former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, he would say race, and that would seem to be the one thing these three candidates have in common. While I don’t want this to be the case, a lot of what I’ve seen over the past several months supports that theory, and that’s disturbing.

There’s been a bunch of brou-ha-ha over Mayor Herenton’s “race based” campaign for the 9th district, but I’ll give him credit for one thing, at least he’s not trying to hide it. Herenton’s no holds barred rhetoric makes his position clear, he thinks that only an African American is suited to represent a largely African American district. But what about the flip side of the coin? Are there white people who believe that only white people can adequately represent them? Sure there are, and regardless of whether they state it as plainly or clearly as Mayor Herenton, they’re engaging in the same kind of race baiting that the former Mayor has used as the foundation of his campaign.

The question we should be asking ourselves in every election is who best represents our views and will move government in the direction we want it to go, not who looks most like us. While I won’t go so far as to claim that this particular instance of campaign sign strangeness is racism, the number of times I’ve seen this scenario and the places I’ve seen it points to race as a possible motivating factor in who people support.

Maybe it really does come down to people’s perceptions of merit. Maybe a lot of people are really turned off by Ford “changing his mind”. That still doesn’t explain the Sheriff’s race.

Maybe Herenton is right, and race is the primary motivator in Shelby County. I hope he’s wrong, but some of the signs point to that conclusion, and it bothers me…a lot.




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