Friday, January 25, 2008

Bring NOLA To The Debates

Times Picayune columnist Chris Rose recently has an interesting idea. He tells in this column how he attempted to book a lot of Oxford, Mississippi's 650 hotel rooms for the night of the presidential debate to be held there. And found that they'd already been booked. So here's another idea:

Since the Commission on Presidential Debates won't be bringing any of its debates to New Orleans, why can't New Orleanians and those who support New Orleans bring New Orleans to all four debates that are scheduled by this august body for this fall?
Here's how this can be done: For each day any of these debates has been scheduled, New Orleans activists should plan to flood (pun intended) the city it will be held in with busloads of demonstrators. These busloads could come not only from New Orleans but also cities with large concentrations of evacuees who've been unable to return--Houston, Atlanta, etc. People from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and elsewhere in the disaster zone, still stuck in FEMA trailers or otherwise having trouble with Katrina recovery would also be invited to participate.
These protests could start in Oxford on Sept. 26th. And they hopefully would be huge enough to tie up traffic--so massive neither the candidates and their people nor members of the media, nor any of the other debate principals including the esteemed Paul G. Kirk, Jr. and the rest of the BushCo lackeys on the commission--would find it easy to make their way to the debate venue.
And these New Orleans demonstrations should not be simple marches and rallies. That would be too mundane--not good enough for a New Orleans that wants to show Paul G. Kirk and the rest of America that she can put on a big event--and not just do so in New Orleans. The protests would need to include New Orleans musicians who'd perform jazz, the blues, zydeco, and other music for which New Orleans and Louisiana are famous. And other performers including dancers. Each protest could be like a mini-Mardi Gras. The demonstrators would also have to set up props like FEMA trailers and a homeless people's tent village--which they could call Bushvilles and Republican Row.
Last but not least, there should be trucks with cooking facilities like there are at festivals. Where po'boys, gumbo, jambalaya, and all sorts of other New Orleans treats could be sold--with proceeds going to New Orleans charities engaged in rebuilding and helping her people recover. (And in the case of Oxford and the rest of the places in which the debates are being held, that would probably be the most delicious food people there have had in years!)
Also, when the debates take place, New Orleans demonstrators would need to swarm into the venues and, during the debates, shout out questions about New Orleans and Katrina. And not shut up until their questions are answered or at least until New Orleans and Katrina are being talked about. Rude? Yes--but sometimes rudeness is necessary to get attention. And unfortunately during this campaign attention to New Orleans and her problems, which have not been treated as campaign issues, so far has been in very short supply. Being nice, quiet, and polite clearly has not worked. New Orleans has been ignored, and her people disenfranchised and treated as if they were invisible. It's time for New Orleanians to be seen and make their voices heard.
And there would be no way either the candidates or the mainstream media would be able to ignore these demonstrations and maintain their credibility. So they would hopefully attract attention to New Orleans and let the rest of America know that her people's plight continues.
These demonstrations sound like a complex plan--but based on the success of last fall's Jena rallies, they would be doable. The seeds just need to be sown in the blogosphere for an idea such as this to come to fruition. It's time to get to work on this--now.
And here's another idea to get a presidential debate for New Orleans:
Please post this following e-mail to Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News' blog,">Daily Nightly.

Dear Brian,
In spite of the historic, tragic impact of Katrina and New Orleans' flood not only on Louisiana and Mississippi but on America as a whole, and the fact that the Bush Administration has been neglecting New Orleans' recovery, this dual disaster has very rarely come up in presidential debates.
So I am calling on NBC News to sponsor a presidential debate on these topics to be held in New Orleans this fall. This seems to be the only way this disaster and the slow recovery, which are still having traumatic effects on people in Louisiana and Mississippi, will be talked about.
Remember the way Yucca Mountain, a local issue of interest only to Nevadans, was discussed in the last Las Vegas debate, which you moderated? Katrina and the flood, which unlike Yucca Mountain, have had national importance and are still affecting Americans, should be discussed at least as well as has Yucca Mountain. And a debate in New Orleans may be the only way this will happen.
And New Orleans would be the ideal venue for the presidential nominees to discuss many other domestic campaign issues because in effect New Orleans after the flood has been the "canary in the coal mine" regarding these things: the economy, health care, the environment, civil rights, poverty, education, immigration, the elderly, children, etc.
I hope you and NBC News will give this idea serious consideration. A New Orleans debate as she is recovering would be historic, and we need a debate in New Orleans.


In fact, feel free to link or crosspost this entire diary anyplace you can do so, and PASS IT ON!

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Midwest lover of New Orleans and of all things having to do with Louisiana.