By Vernon A. Williams
This is an indisputable truth – voting for a person because of his skin color is as unacceptable as refusing to vote for a person of a particular color.
Choosing your candidate by gender is every bit as bigoted and narrow minded as rejecting an opponent simply because they happen to be male or female.
Supporting someone running for office solely because he represents a particular sexual orientation is as bad as dismissing a prospect for the same reason.
There are many reasons to consider when choosing who you prefer for local, county, state or federal office. However well intended, none of them should center primarily on whether a person seeking office is Black, White or Latino, Christian or Muslim, male or female, gay or straight.
Please allow me to fine-tune the distinction. There is nothing wrong with celebrating accomplishments of a people. Self-affirmation does not require suppression.
Many African Americans were ecstatic throughout the Joe Louis era; captivated by the success of trailblazer Jackie Robinson; jubilant in the wake of the defiant dominance of Muhammad Ali; thrilled when Black figure skaters or gymnasts win gold in the Olympics; and excited just this weekend with the resurgence of golfing great Tiger Woods as a champion (despite his identity confusion).
Likewise, women have a right to honor those among them vying to break through glass ceilings. Hispanics should feel pride about the landmark achievement of Latinos. Chicagoans recently applauded their first lesbian mayor. And there is no fault in ethnicities reflecting heritage from Europe, Asia, Africa, or the Middle-East, celebrating their own.
Exuding identity pride is natural and even healthy when it does not come at the cost of alienation, suppression or deprivation of others. Yet and still, these self-congratulatory emotions should not translate into a kind of myopic perspective that automatically transforms someone similar to you into a political favorite.
Though it may seem as if he has been running forever, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially launched his presidential campaign on Sunday, formally vaulting the Midwestern Democrat who was largely unknown over a month ago, into the large — and growing — field of Democrats vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.
Buttigieg cast his candidacy as a direct rebuttal to Trump’s campaign — including his slogan “Make America Great Again” — and highlighted his belief that the country needs both a generational change and an entirely different political figure to lead the country past Trump. Buttigieg’s argument is that he, a gay, veteran mayor from the Midwest, is just that kind of different politician.
Disenchanted with their 2016 ‘media darling’ – who was propelled by their avalanche of free, unbalanced publicity into both the GOP nomination and the White House – news outlets pounced on the Buttigieg campaign as one drawing more positive attention.
Despite the hype, there are still some people so outraged and offended by the lifestyle of this articulate Midwestern mayor that they would rather vote for a rock before they embrace the concept of a male president introducing to the world, his “First Man.”
It works in reverse, too.
Interestingly, Buttigieg’s sexuality constitutes reason enough for another significant percentage of voters to embrace his candidacy relentlessly. Early fundraising efforts have been robust, far exceeding much more familiar names in Democratic circles.
Given the dynamics of the ‘you just never know’ state of U.S. politics over the past 12 years, there are likely few people mindful of their budgetary restraints, willing to vote on the outcome of 2020. Two things are certain. The first is that the Democratic field will be more diverse than ever. The second reality is that no matter what, people will be swayed by factors beyond candidates’ skills, experience, integrity, platform and commitment.
We just hope that at the end of the day, the Democratic primary is not brutal, that they don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal, that infighting isn’t suicidal and most of all, that the best man or woman wins.
If that happens, we can be sure of ending the nightmarish administration the nation is struggling to endure at the moment. And that’s really all that matters.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society.Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.