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How Dare You Hang Up On Me????
9/4/2013 1:00:54 PM

By Barney Blakeney

At first I was surprised, then angered. It’s taken me almost a week to decide whether or not to write about it.

I was standing at a downtown Charleston bus stop the day after the Aug. 27 Democratic primary run off election talking with a friend when my cellphone rang. I usually don’t break from an in-person conversation to answer my cellphone. I think it’s rude. And I don’t stand around talking on cellphones. There’s very little in my life so important, I have to drop whatever I’m doing to talk on a cellphone. I refuse to tie my life to that little box.

For some reason I answered the call. It was Charleston County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Hricik. I excused myself from my other conversation, to my regret.

From the outset my conversation with Hricik was kind of spacey. I couldn’t really get a handle on what the subject could be. Maybe Hricik was gloating about the run off results - he opposed Maurice Washington’s candidacy as a democrat doggedly. Washington lost.

But then, our paper had carried a story about Hricik’s opposition that I thought was uncomplimentary of him. Maybe he was calling about that story.

Anyway, our conversation eased onto Washington somewhat haphazardly. Hricik again mentioned that Washington had been described by former Sen. Robert Ford as a dedicated Republican since 1984. And I again corrected him noting that Washington ran as a Democrat against Ford in 2000.

Hricik’s response was, “Barney, this conversation is over,” and hung up the phone.

Now. I don’t like being hung up on. An ex-girlfriend did that to me 15 years ago as we broke up. I haven’t gotten past it yet. So for the past few days I’ve been stewing about Hricik’s insult.

As a news reporter I get people shutting down on me often. It goes with the territory. But I’m disappointed that Hricik shut down on me. I think when you get to a certain level of leadership, you have a responsibility to objectively stay open. You’ve gotta stay open. How else do you know which way to lead?

Any time a leader is unwilling to listen to and weigh undeniable facts, that person’s leadership must be called into question.

I’m not going to debate whether Washington is Republican or not. That he ran as a Democrat in 2000 certainly brings into question whether he has been dedicated to the party since 1984. That’s all I’m saying.

But the brother wouldn’t even listen to the argument! I’ve found that when a man is unwilling to listen, he’s apt to make mistakes.

I was concerned that Hricik pushed so hard against Washington, but now I’m more concerned that this guy may be one of those people who are so locked in on their own belief and their desire for others to follow, they don’t want to hear anything else. I’m scared of people like that. They insist that it’s either my way or the highway.

My brothers and sisters, the Democrats already think they’ve got a lock on Black folks. We don’t need Democratic leadership that tells us to blindly follow wherever they tell us to go, that we shouldn’t ask questions or look at contradictory facts. Again, this ain’t about Washington’s political party affiliation, it’s about leadership that says “this is what I say it is and don’t challenge it.” I don’t know about others, but nobody tells me what I must think. And I take offense at that man who insisted that all Democrats should follow his trend of thought or be outcast. That’s that Nazi bullcrap, homeboy!

If that brother’s idea of leadership is indicative of the leadership throughout the Democratic Party, it’s no wonder Black folks live in a welfare state, burdened by high unemployment, crime and miseducation. My mom used to say every smile ain’t smiling with you.

I personally don’t need the paternalistic leadership of some guy making decisions for me. I’ve often said that Black folks must become more involved in the internal processes of the Democratic Party. That phone call the other day is a clear example why.

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