What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Saturday, June 23, 2007

From Baghdad to Bay St. Louis:
Creating a Political Mardi Gras

 From Baghdad to Bay St. Louis: Creating a Political Mardi Gras
While I was at the Hancock County Public Library the other day, I met a young woman on R&R for two weeks from Iraq. She was at the library with her nieces and nephews who were so cute and adorable. I helped her seven year old niece turn off the sound on the computer she was using. The little one promptly looked up at me with a broad beautiful grin and a twinkle in her eyes as she told me that she gets "A"s in math and science.

I beamed back at her as I praised and encouraged the little one to study hard and get good grades and to stay sweet and beautiful. I wanted to be part of that child’s cheerleader crowd. A young African-American female from my itty bitty hometown who enjoys and gets fabulous grades in math and science. I told this beautiful child to remember that she could grow up and be anything she wanted to be. That she could do or be or have whatever she desired. I wanted to help her to dream and to dream BIG.

Immediately what came to mind were all the opportunities that will open up for her in the next decade, just before she enters college. I want—as I’m sure that her aunt wants—for this little girl to imagine the life she wants and to manifest it for herself.

I went up to her aunt and beamed from ear to ear as I remarked on that precious child. The soldier will return to Iraq in a matter of days and has been told that she will return home in January of 2008. I pray that she remains safe and comes home soon.

I feel so very sad for her and her family. I thanked this solider for her service, and I expressed my desire for all soldiers to be home.

Both of us were born and raised here at Katrina’s ground zero, and our elder family members know each other. I think they worked together at Head Start or something along those lines back in the mid-to-late 60’s.

This young woman should be here helping her family recover from Katrina. She should be here watching with pride as her little niece grows up with opportunities and encouragement that went wanting for us.

That young soldier had momentary pleasure with something as routine as taking her younger relatives to the public library to check out books and to get on the computers. Aside from my total opposition to Bush’s unnecessary war of choice with all of the ill will his Iraq war has wrought throughout the world and here at home, this woman and her squadron along with others like it should be here helping us to rebuild.

As I see the major infrastructure projects that every Katrina town and city must rebuild, I yearn for the times of my childhood. No, not the racism and sexism. Just the part that had a very responsive federal government, the part that had deployed the National Guard and other military units to help with some of the heavy lifting after Hurricane Camille in 1969.

While the general disposition of folks around here is pleasant, make no mistake about it, the hardship is immense.

When I was this soldier’s age, I learned from my feminist sisters that the personal is political. This war is personal. So, too, is the immense hardship of putting back together the lives, neighborhoods,, and communities here in Katrina Land.

Many years later after learning the phrase “the personal is political”, I have also come to understand the reverse to be true. The political is personal.

This morning I was reading on the frustration that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hasn’t ended the war. I’ve read other comments regarding all sorts of areas that folks are expecting this extremely wise political leader to eradicate in a matter of months.

We’re doing good work, folks. Eight and a half months ago, we elected a Democratic Congress and Senate. Now we must be supportive, provide the pressure, and be ready soon to jump on into one of the many races to elect good Dems to congressional office and the White House.

I responded to the Pelosi slam. I’m definitely a Progressive Pelosi Democrat. She’s wise, tough, and politically savvy. I admire that and emulate it. To do what we desire requires that we increase our Democratic majorities in Congress and in state and local offices as well. So be it. We have our marching orders come this January to volunteer some time and/or money to ensure that we accomplish this goal.

In the meantime, we call and email our elected officials. We write letters to the editor. We join with organizations that are doing important political work. On the side of my blog’s homepage is a list of terrific Political Hell Raising Organizations from which to choose, should you be so inclined.

In this way, we continue to move the ball down the field. That is the way to score points on the board, a prerequisite to winning the game. Look, I’m a Southerner. I am smack in the middle of New Orleans Saints’ country and proud of it! Remember, I grew up with the Saints at a time when people joked about putting paper bags on their heads because of their field performance.

After the tremendous natural disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, the team sold out its season tickets last year—the first year it returned to the Superdome after the storm. And what did the Saints do? They went all the way to the Super Bowl playoffs!!!!

How did they do it? They mastered the fundamentals. They leveraged their momentum. They became a powerhouse that had to have psyched out many of its opponents who most likely had anticipated walking through that week’s ball game.

Now, we can use this incredible success story of rising from the ashes like the Phoenix and soaring beyond our wildest dreams. We, too, can master the political fundamentals. As we do, we will enjoy flexing our political muscles and routinely winning year after year the political Super Bowls in the legislative and electoral arenas.

As we continue to come of age politically, we will once again experience an expanding peace and prosperity. Families and neighborhoods like we have in Katrina Land will recover quickly. We will all have so much to celebrate, that we'll be dancing in the streets—one big continuous political Mardi Gras, if you will.

Save me a dance!

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