The Macon Telegraph is taking a novel approach to candidate endorsements this year. Instead of the usual grilling, the Telegraph has released in advance five questions for which it hopes candidates will provide detailed responses. Details are here. The questions are:
• What will you do in your first year in office to promote fiscal solvency and responsibility, specifically as it regards financial records, the budget and city operations?
• What will you do in your first year in office to reduce street crime?
• What will you do in your first year in office to promote collaborative leadership?
• Would you be willing to participate in an early organizational retreat if paid for with private funds?
• What will you do to promote and enhance development, redevelopment and the natural environment in the city of Macon?
What really got me though was this next bit and the reaction to it.
One aspect of the six-page report did cause a bit of controversy Wednesday. Candidates will be asked to pledge not to play the “race card to excuse any poor performance,” the report states.
Betty Bond, a county resident who attended the meeting, said the question offended her because it’s focused on black people.
“No other race can play the race card,” said Bond. “If you’re white, you can’t play the race card.”
It’s a sad day when people get upset by a pledge not to use the race card. I will gladly take that pledge. The key, of course, is when I say someone is incompetent, if that person happens to be of a race different that me, I should not be saying the person is incompetent because of their skin color and the rebuttal should not be that I am saying so because of their skin color.
That’s what happens in this town. There is a large contingent of people who say we should not make race an issue and if you vote for Robert Reichert in the Democratic primary then you are a racist for failing to give the black candidate a chance. At the same time, there are a lot of white people in town who think black people would never vote for Robert Reichert because they’ll only vote for a black candidate. This whole bit of race baiting madness descends into a catch 22 where black voters vote for the black candidate because they don’t think the white voters would give the black candidate a fair shot and the white voters vote for the white candidate because they think the black voters will, in the commonly heard vernacular around here, “stick to their own kind.”
Macon will never advance until both the black voters and the white voters choose the best candidate instead of the [insert color choice here] candidate. I was absolutely gobsmacked recently when I was criticized for actively supporting several black candidates in town. It completely floored me.
Maybe all the candidates should go around in town during campaign season in hermetically sealed opaque costumes so we can’t see what race they are. Then put their resumes on pink paper with purple ink to totally keep the black and white issues out of the campaign.
*Yes, I did just use the word “gobsmacked.”