Fisher’s simple question — are this city’s politicians taking us back to the seedy, Marion Barry days of the 1980s? — exposes deeper issues of race, class and a divided electorate seemingly unable to put into office a mayor who represents every point on the spectrum.
Fisher interviewed Bernard Demczuk, a professor of African American and D.C. history at George Washington University. Demczuk summed up the District’s current struggle to find synergy by taking a look at the city’s history:
I hate to inject race into this, but it’s always there in the District ... The long-standing African American population would often turn their heads away, knowing that Marion Barry might be doing something untoward, because they appreciated his courage in standing up to racism in the civil rights movement. This new, transient population, mostly white, isn’t doing that.
The struggle to build an administration that pays attention to a city with dueling identities has resulted in a group of stranger-than-fiction political figures.
Take, for example, the sunglass-wearing antics of former fringe mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown at a recent city council hearing. (By the way, today’s Post editorial says we should put aside his antics and take seriously his June 6 D.C. Council hearing allegation that Gray’s staff promised money and an administration job if he continued a smear campaign against former mayor Adrian Fenty.) Since Brown was sacked in February, a sizeable handful of other embarrassing political mishaps have surfaced.
There was council Chairman Kwame Brown’s tricked-out SUV. There was the firing of Gray’s chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall, whom he still hasn’t replaced. And this week, there was the D.C. attorney general’s accusation against council member Harry Thomas Jr. alleging that he has spent more than $300,000 of public money for personal expenses.
If you’d like a step-by-step explainer on other members, check out this DCist post.
In the meantime, tell us: Are we headed toward another dark time in D.C.’s political history? Use #DCPolitics on Twitter to tell us and we’ll post your replies here.
DC politics is looking like a kindergarten class full of spoiled children getting their way. Forget about the citizens who voted.#DCPolitics
In an ironic twist, those who seek to call out the current mayor reaped the benefit of the prior mayor’s dishonest ways. #DCPolitics