opinion web
Liberal Opinion General Opinion
Matt Towery
Matt Towery
18 Dec 2014
Why Trump Should Run

The elite media will scoff at a potential Donald Trump candidacy for president. They will consider it a … Read More.

11 Dec 2014
Don't Be Fooled by Sudden Drop in Oil Prices

So the price of oil suddenly plummets by more than 40 percent from June of this year to early December. … Read More.

4 Dec 2014
Even Advocates of Past Governments Shutdowns Advise Extreme Caution This Time

In years past, this column has urged conservative Republicans in Congress to shut down the federal government … Read More.

Any Political Machine Can Come to an End


ATLANTA — An upcoming municipal election may reveal some clues about the drift of American politics, and about the nature of politics itself.

Political machines thrive, only to die one day. Witness what's happening in Atlanta. Based on both our own InsiderAdvantage surveys, and on a poll by the highly regarded SurveyUSA, it appears that one of America's most powerful municipal political machines is sputtering to a halt — that of the nearly 40-year reign of African-American mayors in this town.

Atlanta was one of the first major cities in the nation to elect a black mayor, in 1973. It was certainly the first big city in the South to do so. Back then, "white flight" to the suburbs spawned a downtown electorate that was more and more African-American. Beyond that, the city seemed ready to embrace the concept of change that came with the election of a minority to office. The late Maynard Jackson was charismatic, charming and brilliant. He had served as vice mayor before besting the incumbent white mayor in a runoff.

His ascendance started the emerging Atlanta tradition of passing the mayoral torch from one black leader to the next. All this in a town where comparatively tight city limits came to hold roughly half-a-million citizens within a greater metro area of some 5.5 million.

As little as three years ago, you would have been dubbed a political naif had you suggested that a race for mayor here could be leaning towards a fiery, petite white woman with no ties to anything like a downtown machine. Yet the polling in this race points to a spot of apathy among some black voters, even just a year after a record number of blacks turned out for Barack Obama.

Race is always a factor in elections like this. Atlanta has large blocs of both white and black voters, plus a burgeoning tide of other minorities. But race doesn't look to be the determining factor this time. In my judgment, the Nov. 3 vote for Atlanta mayor may well be determined with neither of the two major African-American candidates even making it into a runoff, which would be held three weeks after the initial vote.

Ironically, the bigger theme of the mayoral race that may come to be known as the "upset in Atlanta" is the same one that put Obama in the White House: change.

Many of Atlanta's problems simply come with being a big city.

Any big city. Incumbent Mayor Shirley Franklin has witnessed municipal headaches as grievous as any mayor since Jackson has. And she ought to know — she has been an administrative force in Atlanta mayoral offices starting with her work under Jackson, and then under the popular Mayor Andrew Young.

Those who view Tuesday's election results as a judgment on Franklin are wrong. It likely will be the result of a plurality of blacks who figure there's little harm in trying something new. After all, many of these voters have been dealing with crime, the high cost of an inner-city lifestyle and cutbacks in city services.

In this instance, "new" could mean Norwood. She's a two-term city councilwoman, but isn't seen as being a cog in a city political machine.

So why is this election a possible harbinger of things to come across the nation?

First, blacks and young voters were two demographic groups that helped to coronate President Obama in 2008. But now they both appear to lack political energy or interest. In Atlanta, that's a bit odd when one considers that a Norwood win would likely mean the end of decades of relationships that have benefited the African-American and more youth-oriented communities of the city.

Second, the Atlanta mayoral battle illustrates that change — be it change from a generation ago or from recent times — eventually yields to a new brand of change. In this case, Atlanta voters look to be tired of a perceived combination of crime, congestion and a city government stuck in neutral gear.

Nothing in politics remains the same. The lasting national Republican majority that was a dream of some in the GOP just a few years ago has melted away. Now we have Democratically inspired "change we can believe in" in Washington. According to many in media, it may last for decades.

But if what my polling numbers tell me are true, either this Tuesday or three weeks from now, voters in Atlanta will prove again that those in the political world can count only on the unexpected.

Matt Towery is author of the new book, "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2009 Fight for the Presidency." He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. To find out more about Matthew Towery and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Matt Towery
Dec. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 1 2 3
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Author’s Podcast
Deb Saunders
Debra J. SaundersUpdated 21 Dec 2014
Brent Bozell
Linda Chavez
Linda ChavezUpdated 19 Dec 2014

8 Aug 2013 Nearly Four Decades Later, We Ask: “Is Nixon the One ... the Only One?”

27 Jan 2011 Wrong Moves by GOP Could Re-elect Obama

2 Oct 2008 Everything You Might Not Know About The "Bailout" But Were Afraid To Ask