Sunday, September 04, 2011

Elite by the Numbers (in 3 parts)

Elite 1 a : singular or plural in construction : the choice part : CREAM b : singular or plural in construction : the best of a class c : singular or plural in construction : the socially superior part of society d : a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence e : a member of such an elite —usually used in plural (

There are 435 members of the (now) infamous House of Representatives and 100 Senators (both numbers fixed by law). There are nine members of the Supreme Court and regardless of political party: one president and one vice president.

According to the CIA World Fact book, the US estimate of population in 2009 was 307,212,123.

Looking at this mathematically (in a deck-of-cards analogy), the odds of getting to be:

President/Vice President: 3.2550798784721135500241961480146e-7 ~ 3.3 x 10-7%
307,212,123: 1

Supreme Court: 2.9295718906249021950217765332132e-6 ~ 3.0 x 10-6%
34,134,680: 1

Senator: 3.2550798784721135500241961480146e-5 ~ 3.3 x 10-5%
3,072,121: 1

House of Representatives: 1.4159597471353693942605253243864e-4 ~ 1.4 x 10-4%
706,235: 1

NBA Athlete: 0.03%
3546: 1

Other than white male president: 2.2727272727272727272727272727273~2.3%

My last category I specifically made “other than white male president,” because prior to the 2008 presidential contest, the odds of a white male in the Oval Office was 100% regardless of political party.

The presidency of Barack Obama has opened up the category “other than” so that Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain despite their political views in anathema of his have the same odds – albeit slim – to win the presidency. Prior to his, it was a big, fat goose egg! Secretary Hilary Clinton, had she become the nominee and president, would have accomplished the same feat.


To be a black man in America is to be under [mentally] a constant state of “siege.” On the one hand, you have the peer pressure in your urban neighborhood regardless of the era of being “cool.” Cool then was Super Fly, impossibly high platform shoes, leopard skin coats, smoking reefer, selling it, graduating to cocaine like [crack cocaine] Ricky Ross; making a million dollars to “ride off in the sunset” (the end of Super Fly), and the obsession of a few friends that tried and failed: one executed; one waiting on death row. Cool now seems to be similar, updated music with the addition of sagging britches and You Tube reinforcement.

When you have an interest outside of sports, a talent for science, math, writing, thinking, literature, you know who “Jacque Cousteau” is, and up on his weekly undersea show, you might get labeled: weird or “white boy.” Cute girls ignore you, your solace being books, tools a microscope, a telescope and a junior chemistry set.

Making some academic attainment, you end up in areas where you are “the one” or “the first” to arrive. That’s not entirely true, just that a concentration of members in the National Society of Black Physicists or National Society of Black Engineers typically happens at conventions; not companies. Getting on elevators illicit purses shifting; catching cabs proves difficult despite lacking any criminal record.

Siege is a bubble you exist in: jowls clenched tight after swallowing hard at work at off-color humor – the psychological reason I wear a night guard; rants about “reverse discrimination” took less than a decade to legitimize when introduced in the lexicon, pointing out obvious unrighteousness marks you as “playing the race card,” successfully trumped by this Joker.

The other things you hear in the siege bubble are phrases like “meritocracy,” “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps,” “stop living in the past,” “post-racial” and my favorite: “a colorblind society.” Mouthed by most conservative talk show hosts, it’s a phrasing meant to sound agreeable allowing real conditions to be disagreeable, and essentially unchanged. Our society is a pyramid where equality and monetary wealth is enjoyed by the 1% oligarchs at the Eye of Horus: the 99% are left to divide ourselves into political parties.

A quick Google search yields this answer to the question: “how many blacks have run for president in the United States?”

Shirley Chisholm (Democrat) 1972
Jesse Jackson (Democrat) 1984
Dr. Lenora Fulani (Independent) 1988
Alan Keyes (Republican) 2000
Carol Moseley Braun (Democrat) 2004
Al Sharpton (Democrat) 2004
Barack Obama (Democrat) 2008

Forgive me when I make this admission: on seeing him on stage, after six predecessors, I just wondered “how long would this one last?” My confidence after six was somewhat jaded; not enough African Americans voted for the six previous black candidates, though they may have silently admired each one’s chutzpah. Senator Obama distinguished himself as being the first presidential candidate needing Secret Service protection while still a candidate in the primaries. It was not a forgone conclusion that he would win the Democratic primaries or ultimately the Oval Office.

The attacks became visceral and vitriolic: charges of “palling around with terrorist,” “terrorist fist bumps,” “socialist,” “racist” (against white people – despite the affection for his mother and his grandparents), death threats, vocal threats at rallies of “off with his head” and “kill him.”

Then, and now: I see a man in the “siege bubble,” having to be conciliatory to unreasonable forces that have sworn his defeat before his administration got beyond “President-Elect.” Questioning the qualifications of a Magna Cum Laude Columbia graduate and first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review; snubbing his intelligence as “too professorial”; labeling him “elitist” while ignoring every public official is. Bumper Stickers appeared saying: “Impeach Obama” before his January 20th inauguration. He has to grit his teeth, see his hair turn gray, his skin wrinkle, bear its weight else he be labeled “radical,” as was his former pastor when the majority world suddenly realized an inequitable system might produce a different archetype from majority evangelical churches that never experienced slavery, Civil Rights, church bombings or Jim Crow.


Why I will support the reelection of President Barack Hussein Obama.

Rick Perry has thrown his hat in the ring of the GOP contest for the presidency, and he’s catapulted to the front of the pack. He’s aligned himself with the New Apostolic Reformation Movement. He’s essentially the male version of Michelle Bachmann/Sarah Palin and Dominion [ism], a hyper-spiritual form of Christian Nationalism that dominates the Republican Party. They take their mandate from the book of Genesis, where God says “[have] dominion over the earth,” and for these groups that means everything, inclusive of government, arts, science, technology…domination.

The Way Things Used to Be:

1954: Brown versus Board of Education, a 9 – 0 vote in the Supreme Court (when they were actually non-partisan) that mandated schools be desegregated “with all deliberate speed.” That swiftness didn’t occur for me in North Carolina until 1971.

What was introduced on our currency in 1955 was the phrase “In God We Trust” along with the flag of the rebel south in state flags like South Carolina, Georgia and Arkansas, hearkening to the war between the “Godless North” and the “Christian South.” Desegregation caused two phenomena: white flight to the suburbs and “Christian Private Schools,” an audacious attempt to exempt their children from integration with the benefit of tax exempt status.

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann in her youth surprisingly worked on the campaign of President Jimmy Carter – a Democrat – for the notion of electing “one of their own,” making Carter our country’s first evangelical president, former nuclear engineer and peanut farmer. When he eliminated the tax exempt status of the Christian Schools to foster integration, they turned on him in 1980 electing Ronald Reagan.

Being the ever cognizant actor of B movies, it was easy for him and his speechwriters to sprinkle his wordsmith with calls to an America that Republicans and Reagan Democrats remembered: before 1954.

The Right co-opted religious rhetoric after the 1988 campaign of Bush I and Dukakis: noting the substantial mailing list of Republican Presidential hopeful and [still] 700 Club head of Pat Robertson: millions of “snail mail” addresses, pre-Internet, they peppered their speeches with what white evangelicals longed to hear: a return to the country they “knew” before 1954.

Fast forward to the present: it is no accident that Michelle Bachmann has appealed to not just Tea Party and evangelicals – the new word entering the lexicon is “Teavangelicals.”

It is no accident that Rick Perry staged a day of prayer in Houston, Texas to secure his bona fides with the most divisive group in Christendom that calls for execution of gays in Africa, that calls the Catholic Church “the whore of Babylon” and want every government program to help the poor turned over to: the churches.

I am not voting for Barack Hussein Obama because I am a socialist; I am not voting for him because I am a capitalist; I am not voting for him because I think he’s done a fantastic job in office; I am not voting for him because he’s a black man. And, I am not voting for him as “the lesser of two evils.”

I am voting for him because of Democracy itself that is under current clear and present danger of extinction, and something he said (quoting FDR): “make me do it.”

I think we miss out on “We the People.” We instead look for the avatar in every election cycle and forget we have a considerable amount of leverage to bear up our man in office.

Make him do it: the rallies that the world saw from the Tea Party during the healthcare debates were not matched by rallies from the energized left that opposed almost everything Bush proposed, every expansion of the security state, every death in Iraq and Afghanistan. All that energy disappeared. So…you don’t have a public option; you don’t have single payer: because you didn’t “make him do it.”

The “Community Organizer-In-Chief” needed our backs, and we turned our backs to the 5:1 ratio of corporate lobbyists to senators and congress members that have their and his ears. Corporations have organized AstroTurf rallies to look like grass roots, when we actually were not done working November 4, 2008. That was just the beginning.

Politics in the era after 2009 and the current Supreme Court’s oxymoronically named “Citizen’s United” ruling, giving corporate America not just clarified “personhood” under the 14th Amendment – ironically designed to give personhood to former chattel slaves – it gave them unprecedented power in our lives, the ability to flood money to any candidate of their choosing anonymously as “free speech,” elections can no longer be bench sport/armchair athletics: if democracy matters.

They are awash with money, making few loans to homebuyers or small business owners, and have no interest in creating jobs in the US since they have free rein to ship them to cheaper countries; they pay little or zero taxes; they do not invest in education here because they have no interest in paying salaries, benefits, and 401(k) plans to a continuous supply of replacement workers that they would eventually have to pay for their retirement.

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity; do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

With a President Obama and an active citizenry post-election, I think we can “make him do it.”

Or…we can go backwards beyond 1954…not as a third world nation, but worse: a new Northern-Strategy/Southern-Strategy class cultural divide in the 21st century, and make the title: “UNITED STATES” of America… an oxymoron.

“Because the finance man's gonna be at your house on Saturday, right? That's exactly what the company wants - to keep you on their line. They'll do anything to keep you on their line. They pit the lifers against the new boys, the old against the young; the black against the white - ANYTHING to keep us in our place,” Yaphet Kotto, as Smokey James in the movie “Blue Collar.”

Addendum Analysis:
1. Since the sample size is rather large, occupying the Executive Branch, Congress or the Supreme Court takes a considerable amount of chutzpah and some healthy narcissism to think one’s ideas could satisfy every person in the 307,212,123 sample size, which is getting far more diverse and bigger than anyone ever imagined. Because it’s such a small group, the system probably encourages the same types from the same colleges to run for the same political parties. Families therefore are encouraged by the system to establish dynasties in a democratic electoral system. By definition: rising to occupy any government position in such a system is elite.

2. Since meeting the needs of almost 1/3 of a billion is kind of daunting, lobbyist with lots (and lots) of m-o-n-e-y are probably easier to digest and manage. Since “Corporations are people, my friend,” (Governor Romney) I assume you kind of punt and hope for the best, or muddy the waters – say what you think people want to hear – and hang on for the long haul.

3. It is statistically easier to become the first African American president than an NBA athlete (see 4 for the corollary). A pun on sample sizes: President Obama is number 44; “of the almost 156,000 male, high school senior basketball players only 44 will be drafted to play in the NBA after college.” See link above.

4. Conversely, there is a 97.7% probability of “other-than-other,” i.e. a white male of either party occupying the Oval Office either in 2013 or 2017.

5. Because the odds were once zero, and so small even now, the odds of “other than” repeating itself (after 2012 or 2016) are rather remote.

I sometimes wonder: if the people holding up signs at Camellia sinensis caucuses actually “crunch the numbers” before the inevitable painted signs titled “IMPEACH TEH MUSLOM?”

1 comment:

Vote4MoreFor44 said...

Griot poet, excellent analysis! Brilliant, and it speaks volumes about our polity, and you state exactly why we must not only remain engaged but we must escalate in order to elevate. This election is a 1000 times more important than the election in 2008. We are the crossroads and at the crux is the decision where clarity comes to the fore and we realize we are not at road crossing, but rather we are standing on a road that will either go forward ... or backward. We have a decision to make, and glad of the one you and I are clearly making. We must now work to ensure others do the same, because they recognize it as a necessary truth, not because we convinced them.

DS Brown