Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro is the inspiration for the above title. If you are not familiar, let me quote just a bit from the opening line:
The “educated Negroes” have the attitude of contempt toward their own people
I don’t think it is a stretch to say that many of our elected officials display the same level of contempt for the voter as Woodson charges educated blacks with. No doubt, they do not see it as such, considering it to be instead that they know what is better for us than we know for ourselves. That paternalistic attitude is what keeps the Dillon Rule in effect in Virginia. But sometimes, that is the least of a voter’s concerns.
I understand that Virginia Beach’s charter does not contain a recall provision. Elect a bad mayor? You’re stuck. Want to amend the charter to include recall? As a citizen, you can’t ask the General Assembly to do that; you have to ask your council members – the very ones the lack of such an option protects – to ask the GA.
Want to get an ordinance amended in Norfolk? Unless you can convince your council rep to introduce it and then have that rep convince his/her fellow council members to go along (here in Norfolk, you’ve got to be able to count to five), forget it.
Need to ask the attorney general of VA to rule on a local issue? As an individual, you have no such right to ask. Your only course of action is to get a member of the General Assembly to do so. And what member is going to have the guts to take on local government?
So, as a citizen, it seems that you are left with only one option: go to court. Not everyone has the resources to do so. Further, finding an attorney to represent you can be a hurdle. Your own tax dollars will be used to pay attorneys to fight you. If you do make it to court, you are facing a judge who has been appointed by the General Assembly, who has ties to local government and its elected officials.
So at the end of the day, what elected officials want you to do is show up on Election Day and vote. The rest of the time, just let them do what it is that do. After all, they know what’s best for you.
I’d call that an attitude of contempt.