A old saw goes: the more things change the more they stay the same. That is so true when one considers politics in America, circa 2019.
The issue of race is everywhere in politics, from the Oval Office to the Democratic presidential candidate debate to Keizer’s city council chambers.
At the first set of Democratic debates, school busing and segregation took center stage for a portion of the evening. What former vice president Joe Biden said about school busing in the early 1970s was fair game for one of his rivals, Kamala Harris.
There are those who seek to make America like it used to be, in some previous, supposed Golden Age when things were simple. Or simpler than today.
The United States has always produced political candidates and leaders who looked forward and offered visions of what the future could be. As the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, many of the candidates are looking backward. That kind of campaign certainly appeals to some segments of society, but America has always been best when our grasp exceeds our reach.
To be fair, discussion of race will never end. As long as people are victims of bias, as long as people are fearful of others different from them.
Though busing and school segregation are issues for national candidates to bludgeon each other with, we don’t face those issues here. But as a community, we do need to be vigilant about racism raising its ugly head. The proposed City Charter Review Committee has stalled when one nominee was found by the Volunteer Coordinating Commitee to not be a U.S. citizen, and thus not a registered voter. The resolution forming the committee stated that members are required to be electors. The words ‘registered voter’ (it means the same as elector)— everyone understands voter, not everyone understand elector—-should have been used instead and avoided this fracas. The volunteer in question was heralded for their knowledge and their interest. Some said there should be a waiving of the elector/register voter requirement.
Those who opposed that opinion were painted as racist due to the applicant’s heritage. There no place in Keizer government for that sentiment, and yet it is here, fostered by some of our national leaders.
Aside from the issues busing, school segregation and racism being dredged up from the 1970s, some wouldn’t mind if the clock were turned back and Keizer returned to a simpler time when traffic was light, there was little crime and eveyone knew their neighbor.
Time marches on, things change, but not to everyone’s taste. We are a fifth of the way through the 21st century and we are refighting the battles of old. The leaders we choose with our votes should foster a sense of optimism in the people. Rather than the issues of the 1970s, public officials should challenge us to be the America we tell ourselves we are.