Probably in what will go down in history as the shortest city council meeting in history the future of the Lincoln Center is now just a technicality of waiting for the demolition crews to arrive. As much as the advocates of the center wish it not to be so, the fact remains that they were outplayed and outmaneuvered by those in power. It’s a little thing called money and it has spoken loud and clear. It is the lack of money that is the proverbial nails in the coffin of the Lincoln Center, the lack of a funding source and the deep pockets of those continuing on the gentrification quest of El Paso.
Those studying how politics work should closely look at how this has played out so far to understand how to control a political outcome.
The key is control the public perception.
The advocates for saving the Lincoln Center scored the first point by rallying and stopping the first attempt at demolishing the center. The vision of people fighting to protect something theirs always brings up the emotions of David vs Goliath and nothing sells more news then images of bulldozers being stopped by people holding hands.
The was the last point scored by the proponents trying to save the building. The horde then took control.
For political points, a politician wants to be on the forefront of an engaged audience especially a motivated one. However, the points that the politicians needed in this case were not points of we are here to help but rather avoiding the negativity that comes from mass arrests of protestors before demolishing a building. Images of mass arrests across the news media empowers the protestors because it glorifies their cause before the masses.
Face it, the one thing that sells the news is sensationalism and scandal. The more sensational the more eyes are attracted.
Oscar Lesser, likewise, cannot have the scandal of mass arrests and civil disobedience paraded before the news as he continues on his quest to bring outside industry to El Paso. Imagine the Fortune 500 executive arriving at El Paso International Airport for a wine-and-dine with the city’s mayor and the first thing they see is headlines of mass arrests.
As the protests spread through social media, each politician realized their own possible outcomes and strategized to benefit the most from it. The oligarchy intent on El Paso’s gentrification also realized that they had to take immediate control in order to keep the momentum of the ballpark scam, aka downtown revitalization going.
Each of them, the politicians and the oligarchy needed to take control of the public perception.
For the politicians it was a matter of portraying their “support of” what the people wanted. They each needed to be seeing as the people’s voice, in this case the loudest voices needed to be placated.
For the oligarchy, the plan needed to continue and in order to do that they needed to move the message away from the “establishment” against the people into a more malleable one. They needed time and thus the six-month extension served everyone perfectly.
They then took control of the public message and it moved away from saving culture, history and tradition to one about saving taxpayers money. Their ploy is to create the impression that the only way to save the building was through an extensive use of taxpayer monies.
It didn’t matter that no one knows exactly how much money it will take to revitalize the building only that it will cost the taxpayers. The other thing they needed to do was to destroy the organized opposition so as to quell the public’s support of them. They also needed to overcome the David vs Goliath perception.
Disassembling an organized group starts with creating fissures in the organization. Keep in mind that the oligarchy is united on one front; the redevelopment of downtown El Paso. Those wishing to protect the Lincoln Center come from various loose-knit groups each with their own individual agendas. Demonizing the groups and misdirecting the original message into disjointed and incoherent ramblings not only overcomes the David vs Goliath issue but it also splinters the group with infighting and accusations.
Now, instead of a united front, the supporters of the Lincoln Center are scattered, some repudiating others in public while others spend too much time defending the actions of others that in end the message is nothing more than a group of rabble-rousers seeking to save an old building that the taxpayers will pay for.
Thus, the David vs Goliath scenario has now become a race to see which politician scores more political points while the destruction of Lincoln Center is closer to reality.
What you all witnessed at city council yesterday was nothing more than delaying anything that would make it more difficult to finally destroy the building. There is a reason why Emma Acosta was absent yesterday. It had everything to do with her political future.
By being absent Acosta gets to help destroy the building while pretending she cares for it. The motion to table Limon’s motion would not have passed had Acosta being there to cast her vote. She would not have overcome the people’s wrath had she voted to table the motion.
What the motion was about was to bring back the discussion to where it needs to be; one based on fact and about the building. Had Limon’s motion being debated that fact would have been made and the argument against voting against it would have been moot.
Instead, because of Emma Acosta, it will not be had and the costs, that vary from $100,000 on up to millions will be the message that will resonate in the community.
Thus, David vs Goliath has been subdued and the argument is now centered on numbers that no one has been able to quantify appropriately. This brings Lincoln Center one large step closer to erasure from El Paso’s landscape.
This was enabled by one person – Emma Acosta.