“I have a dream”, said Martin Luther King, the equivalent of Mahatma Gandhi in America, some 50 years ago when talking about the lack of racial justice and equality in America. The only certainty is - it is still a dream, not a reality! Just to be fair, a lot of progress has been made, including voting rights, better enforcement of equal rights and non-discriminatory laws, etc. The real rub is still though, the lopsided brutal and unlawful treatment of the urban African American [AfAm] people by the police [law enforcement], despite the advances in the monitoring technology, enhanced awareness, and the progressive [Left Leaning Democrats] mayors in all big cities that the police work for.
The recent spate of incidences of such brutal treatment and killings of AfAm people by the police caught on the ubiquitous mobile phone cameras, or the compulsory police BodyCam just highlights this reality even more. The real rub is that the police do this with virtual impunity - legal or procedural, as those are already heavily tilted in their favor through years of systematic negotiations by the powerful Police Unions and acquiescence by the inexperienced Mayors. The cycle of brutality, cover-up, or overt justification with no legal or systemic consequences has just emboldened the police force, which is majority white, less educated, and imbued with the “Rambo” spirit, and a huge bias against or disdain of the AfAm people.
Years of injustice have finally brought this to a boiling point and with young, aggressive, and progressive AfAm women, joined by the young progressive, educated urban Whites, they have risen to make a stand and make a difference. The huge and spontaneous, peaceful protest marches that we see day after day on every channel are a testament to that. This is a hopeful sign that it may finally break the dam and make a meaningful difference.
All this is great, uplifting, and good for humanity. After all, isn’t this similar to how Mahatma Gandhi fought injustice and won? Yes, of course! But there enters the dark and devious strategy of the right-wing, ultra-conservative, and very well organized Trump supporters that cast the protests as a deep, dark conspiracy to violently destroy the American way of life - especially in the peaceful suburbs of the big cities. That strategy, coupled with the utter incompetence of the big city mayors who all belong to the progressive or the left-wing of the Democratic party, have given an ugly turn to the events. This has led to pit Americans against each other in these already Divided States of America.
Protest marches are a double-edged sword. Unless meticulously organized for 100% peaceful, disciplined, and with targeted messages, those can devolve into just a hodgepodge of diffused messages by momentarily energized diverse groups doing their things at best - or just the riots, looting, property destruction, etc. at worst. The former is a waste of energy and ineffective, while the latter is highly counterproductive and gives the right-wing the perfect opportunity to besmirch the whole cause and nullify the effect. It can even have deeper negative consequences of turning off and scaring away the neutral, day to day people whose sympathies the protest marchers hoped to draw.
Here, the progressive movement has failed big time. The protest marches arose from the genuine feeling of hurt, anger, and even despair. The spontaneity of the marches and the scale made those unmanageable, and thus, unwieldy. The fact that those went on for weeks, and in some cases, months - blocking roads, traffic, and disrupting the daily lives of the ordinary people already went into the classic “law of diminishing returns” and turned the initial sympathy into apathy and disdain of “enough is enough”.
The biggest failure though was that of the progressive Mayors who run all the big cities and whom the Police work for. The majority of the mayors are AfAm women who run the big cities like Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Rochester NY, to name a few. The rest are run by the mayors belonging to the left-wing of the Democratic party like Mayor de Blasio of New York. The main question of the systemic racism and police brutality against AfAms falls in their lap. The baffling fact is that all big cities have been run by the progressives for decades.
So, why didn’t THEY do something about it? As the police actually are their employees, why don’t or can’t they control/direct/modify the police behavior, restructure the police departments to nip this problem in the bud? Mayors are indeed the Managers or the CEOs of the big cities. What can you infer about the managerial skills of the CEO if he cannot effectively manage/lead/control his/her employees for the best and equitable actions/results?
This brings out one of the root causes of the systemic racism, and a potential solution to this age-old problem of systemic racism and police brutality in mostly liberal cities run by the left-wing mayors in the States mostly governed by the liberal, left-wing Governors [like the CMs in India] and Attorney Generals [like the Law Minister in India].
Before launching into further discussion, let’s acknowledge that racism and police brutality are the ugly remnants of the unfinished business of the Civil War between the South and North - about the question of slavery and the feeling of racial superiority mostly among the rural Whites. The big cities, where a large number of Americans live now, are different. Those are now cosmopolitan and multicultural where educated white-collar liberals and Minorities living together in a very liberal, mutually accepting environment. Why, then, is their police force so White, not reflective of the community, made up of the “Rambo” type White men, itching to exert their power over the AfAm people?
The real answer lies in the character of the liberal, left-wing Mayors -who are mostly AfAm women, who are at the forefront of the political movement - and the left-wing of the Democratic party. Left-Wing or the Liberals have always held a contemptuous or disdainful view of the corporate world and all the attributes that come with it. They threw out good with the bad and corporate efficiency, management skills, strategy, planning, budgeting, reporting, etc. became synonymous with the bad things in a corporate culture like the greed, profiteering, backstabbing competition, lack of human values, etc. Although there is nothing that “black & white”, but those are the main attributes that the Left hates with a passion. As it is, the progressive mindset comes from the free-thinking, compassionate spirit where human values trump the profit and corporate norms, etc.
Most liberals came from the “community organizing” background with no management experience of any kind and a propensity to hate the corporate attributes like management and efficiency, capital management and budgeting, etc. - mundane and “inhumane” things.
Fear of and disdain of cutting edge technology [it displaces people and destroys lives, according to them!] is another specialty of the progressives. Holding a hand and singing Kumbaya, shedding tears, hugs & kisses is more of their management style. And of course, the long, “touchy-feely" speeches. Left specializes in those big time! Nowhere in their dictionary were the words strategy, negotiations, using the power that they have to actually plan and do projects, or to cunningly plant their people in key positions in the bureaucracy to actually get their agenda done, etc.
Running big cities, or the big States need corporate work style in addition to compassion and human values. The entrenched ultra-right-wing urban police unions and mostly White police forces took full advantage of this glaring weakness of their leftist bosses. They also took advantage of the soft corner the Leftists have for the Labor Unions. The Left was too naïve or stupid to know the difference between the genuine labor unions fighting to protect the rights of the aggrieved workers, and the aggressive and empowered ultra-right-wing, racist Police Unions who actually bullied their bosses in negotiating contacts for them that were rich both in money and in immunity protections against any brutality charges.
Even on the common sense management front, the police were so “militarized” that they would go heavily armed and dressed for battle even for simple traffic stops, or the mental health cases, or just a homeless guy sleeping on a park bench. But the leftist mayors saw no need to employ conflict de-escalation specialists, simple traffic monitors, or mental health experts to intervene situations where police with machine guns were going with “shoot first and ask questions later” attitude.
This was just the basic common sense Management 101 that the leftist mayors failed miserably. What good is holding hands and crying when you cannot stop your own employees - the police, from spreading violence and racial injustice?
The inexperienced left-wing mayors were taken for a ride for dozens of years by the White supremacist police unions while they were busy giving speeches and slogans and had no prior experience managing anything, let alone a complex big city. Even President Obama was a “community organizer” and a professor before he became the President. So, he had not run any real-life organization before being in charge of running America and the whole world! Experience in the rough and tumble school of hard knocks has its benefits of hardening the managers to deal with the practical life situations and adversaries.
The right-wing, mostly coming from the corporate world [like Trump], and has the management experience and can easily outmaneuver the left-wing or the progressive Mayors and Governors, which they have skillfully done for decades, carving out sweetheart deals in terms of money, power and legal immunity for the ultra-conservative White police that supposedly were the employees of the leftist mayors. This is the ultimate tragi-comedy if there was any!
Perhaps, these leftists Mayors and Governors and the civil rights protesters could have learned the basics from Mahatma Gandhi who was the ultimate master of the art of organizing the “spontaneous” protest marches with a defined goal, precise methodology including the funding, stepwise execution, and iron-clad discipline. The results speak for themselves. Even in negotiations, Mahatma Gandhi outmaneuvered and outwitted a global empire with clear strategy, goals, tactics, and even points of compromise.
Here, the inexperienced leftist Mayors just conceded lock stock and barrel to the ultra-right-wing police union negotiators and the like. After all, the good-will and sloganeering without any real-world experience running or managing anything will end you up in a mess and that is exactly what we see ourselves in right now.
How could the leftist Mayors and Governors have managed and outmaneuvered the police unions and defanged them? Every 5th grader in India knows the answer to that. Instead of the stupid slogans like “Defund the Police” that scared off the suburban voters, they could have cunningly said that they will “double the funding” instead, and then stuffed the police department with their own Karyakartas. This is the typical Indian formula that these idealistic American leftists, unfortunately, didn’t know. Here, they could have just taken over the police unions stuffing in their own loyal Karyakartass and negotiated equitable contracts with their own ideological compadres, thus throwing out the entrenched ultra-right-wingers.
Unfortunately, the leftist mayors were completely oblivious to this simple Indian trick of taking over the Coop Societies and similar businesses, known even to high school kids. They did not know any of the real-world tactics or chess moves and were like the proverbial “deer in the headlights, stunned and frozen in inaction” and resorted to just emotional blabber. No wonder, they became the laughing stock of the society and were, for the most part, ignored by the press.
As the protests dragged on, the Law of Diminishing Returns has set in. The daily inconvenience and the display of select, graphic pictures of burning and property destruction have turned off the typical suburban middle class. This will surely hurt the Democrats in the November election. Again, why couldn’t someone with the real world, practical, and common sense experience manage these things, rather than leaving those in the hands of freewheeling and emotional people in the left-wing of the party with zero experience in managing anything or practical, strategic thinking?
As they say, “the Buck Stops at the Top”. So, if the November election brings disastrous consequences, the idealistic but naïve leftist mayors and governors lacking the real-world experience will not escape the blame.
- Sunil Deshmukh
(The author is a U.S.A. based philanthropist and Corporate leader of Wall Street. He is the Originator of the prestigious 'Maharashtra Foundation Awards for Literature and Social work'.)