The Democrats hosted their first candidate debate on October 13th and until today, I hadn’t watched it. Why? I sort of already knew the script. I could have told you that we’d hear about guns, commitment to LGBT rights, the middle class and perhaps “Black Lives” mixed in somewhere. That’s about what happened. The message I received was pretty straightforward: the only test acknowledged this cycle for securing black votes is the ability to recite a hashtag. After that, candidates need only return to the business of white affairs and they knew it.
I was raised Pentecostal and learned very early that the Bible was everything to folks around me. I always struggled with that. The Bible seems to say much about a lot of things. Problem is, if you have a belief you’d like to support with scripture, there’s a good chance you can do that. Do you believe slavery is morally wrong? So did my ancestors, who found inspiration in the Exodus story. Do you believe slavery is okay? Exodus 21 is a quick fix: you can own and beat the hell out of a slave, so long as they recover within a couple of days. No worries! In the aftermath of the Pope’s visit, I’m again wrestling with how religion and public policy intersect and if they should in the first place.
After dipping below 4% in 2000 and 2001, unemployment in Ohio was over 6% in 2003. There was a little election in 2004, an election in which one would think the people of Ohio would want the candidates to talk extensively about the economy. That never really happened, however. George W. Bush carried Ohio that year in large part because people came out in droves to vote on Issue 1- a ballot initiative banning gay marriage. This is an old playbook conservatives have embraced for years: use social issues to distract people from broader, economic concerns, never having to speak to them. Apparently, Democrats are running the same play these days.
What is the political agenda for Hispanics in this country? Asians? How about African-Americans? We often have our political priorities fed to us by political institutions and that is problematic. It is also problematic, however, that those same institutions tell us what the priorities are for entire groups of people whom we might rarely even speak to. It could very well be that the priorities we typically associate with various groups aren’t necessarily their chief day to day concerns.