Monday, April 13, 2009

the thought process (not quite an endorsement)

I told each of the District 4 candidates that I wouldn't be giving any endorsements. And I'm keeping to that, even as I wait to interview Mike Bigler (repeated phone calls and e-mails have yet to yield an appointment) and Lou August (when he gets back from vacation, hopefully we'll talk). But this is how I see myself voting next Tuesday:

I believe strongly that the world Marilyn Praisner operated in no longer exists. This is no longer the squeaky-clean, sitcom-suburb Calverton she and Don moved to forty-five years ago - we are more diverse and yet still segregated, more affluent but more disadvantaged, better connected yet still isolated from the rest of Montgomery County. The game has changed, and so must the players.

I had my mind made up to vote for Chris Paladino this year before he dropped out, because his experience with Red Cross lends him an awareness of different people/needs/everything that you don't get just by living in Montgomery County. I hoped Rob Goldman stays involved in Burtonsville politics, but he's way too provincial for a district seat. I thought Andrew Padula's idea for creating "Go-Zones" in East County as a means of attracting new businesses was ingenious, but as the Post and Gazette both point out, he's weak on local issues. I supported Cary Lamari enough to lend him photos to put on his campaign mailers.

And I was warming up to Ben Kramer. His family IS East County. You have voted for his sister and father. You have run errands at shopping centers developed by him or his family. He genuinely wants to give back to this community. I have serious qualms about a representative who lives in Derwood, a full half-hour drive from my house. But, then again, Ike Leggett can see Howard County from his house, so maybe this isn't an issue.

But I feel I can relate best to Nancy Navarro, from her story of growing up in the chaos of Caracas to attend school in the United States and then building a life here to her teenage daughter's lack of places to hang out in East County. I can see a little of my mother in her when the accent creeps into her voice at a debate or public hearing. It may be seen as political showmanship to some, but t0 me it might be a quirk of assimilation.

I appreciate that she's brought race into the discussion to the point where it becomes obnoxious. (An already elected official complaining about her opponents being "delivered" to a seat seems disingenuous to me.) But the "riots" on Ellsworth last month, "mandatory busing" in Hampshire Greens, and the entire issue over whether to scrap the Northeast and Downcounty consortia all have something to do with race. This is a majority-minority district. A discussion of race and racial issues should be inevitable.

So when Ben Kramer told me that he didn't see "a demand or a need for directional change,” I reply that you're not looking hard enough. You're running against NINE people who say that the system is broken. And, even worse, you have a whole rack of people - including our own County Executive, who lives in East County! and is black, for whatever it's worth! - who by endorsing you are endorsing that statement.

That, to me, is really scary.


Thomas Hardman said...

Hey, I wanna be scary too! Can I can I can I can I pleeease be scary too? Can I can I, huh?


Sorry that nature has made me such a non-scary fluffy bunny.

Sorry, I just came from the INFORCE bi-partisan Leisure World candidate forum, and while most people managed to keep a straight face when Robin Ficker offered to move there if it would get him the votes, this here fluffy bunny began to intermittently titter inanely, albeit quietly.

About a need for "directional change", I think I've been belaboring that point here for a bit over a year, elsewhere a bit longer.

As for the whole thing about race, yes, there definitely needs to be more dialog and discussion and everyone needs to be reaching across whatever aisles there may be. Promoting divisions generally isn't useful.

Personally I would rather see the whole race thing vanish onto the ash-heaps of history. I know that I was raised, in the very "Euro-diverse" Aspen Hill of my day, I was raised to ignore any differences and to embrace the fact that wherever our people originated, we were all Americans and nothing but Americans. We'd never heard of "hyphenated-Americans" and I still think it's fairly silly. Though the vast majority of my ancestors came from the Germanies, I don't want to think of myself as German-American (though I am), and I definitely don't think of myself as German. I'm just an American. Can't we all just get along?

Some people seem to be making careers out of sustaining divisions, and I don't think that's good. So that's one "directional change" I'd be happy to make. Let's make this about District 4, about Montgomery, about Maryland and about the USA. Because when we're talking about legal voters, that's what we all are: Americans, Marylanders, Montgomery residents of District 4.

Let's make this all about what we will be in the future: more politically unified, in order to better control our own District's destiny.

marylandgangs said...

Great post Dan. I really enjoyed this part:

So when Ben Kramer told me that he didn't see "a demand or a need for directional change,” I reply that you're not looking hard enough.And Thomas Hardman, the "whole race thing" can't go into the ash heap until we reach something approximating equality. We're a very long way off.

Thomas Hardman said...

Marylandgangs: Tell that to President of the United States Barack Obama. And while you're at it, please define "equality".

Let me point out that I, whitebread that I am, come nowhere close to being "equsl" to either Mr Obama, Isiah "Ike" Leggett, or any number of non-whites that have better educations and incomes than I have, and far loftier positions. Care to explain why I'm on the bottom rung of the social totem pole? Oh, that's right, their hard work got them where they are. Thus it isn't race, but achievement, that defines a person's position, right?

When I say that I don't feel superior to anyone on the basis of race, I mean it.

Cary Lamari said...

I told you I grew up in Wheaton in the 60’s, I can totally relate where you are coming from and I have to respect that dynamic in your decision making.
I really appreciated the picture it worked out great. I really enjoyed talking to you and whomever you vote for, as long as it is from your conscience your doing the right thing. Dan I think both you and Adam are a great asset to Montgomery County and especially the east county.
Thank You,
Cary Lamari

marylandgangs said...

Dear Thomas Hardman,

Please go Google "disparities", and come back here, and then we just *might* be able to have an intelligent conversation.

Thomas Hardman said...

Marylandgangs: I've noticed that you tend to make categoric declarations, and this is at least the second time that you've told me something that amounts to "you ain't never gonna get it, cracker, 'cause you ain't black and you can't understand nothin' 'bout it unless you black".

Sorry, I'm afraid that no matter how much I "get it", you're going to try to score points by claiming I do not. This is no longer a conversation and it is over.

I'll speak openly to open minds. But when you start dragging out how things were 20 years ago and tell me that this is how I have to see today and tomorrow and the rest of all time, all I can tell you is that if you free your mind, your ass will follow, and you ain't freed your mind... but most of the younger folks have freed their minds, and that's why they make the big bucks when they complete their degrees. They don't see disparities, they don't condemn themselves to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Try to do the same.

marylandgangs said...

Thomas Harman, you're angry white man schtick is a riot. Poor, poor Thomas, always having stand up for angry white men in MoCo. lol.

Look, Thomas, try to take it down just a tad, and try to manage your emotions here. This is only a conversation. No need to get all hot and bothered.

But here's the thing -- you totally, and completely, ignored what I said, and the issue of disparities.

That, Thomas Hardman, is something you have no desire to talk about. Because if you were to talk about the pervasive and persistent disparities in virtually every area of life, you may just have to give up that ridiculous angry white man schtick.

Thomas X. lol.

Thomas Hardman said...

Wow. Okay, so now we know that "marylandgangs" is a troll. But trolling for whom or for what reason, I can't tell.

Look, bonehead, I know about "disparities". I've watched money piled on and piled on and piled on to those disparities and you know what I see? I see that Montgomery County Public Schools has a graduation rate that is among the highest in the country. I see that where in place like California, there's a Hispanic drop-out rate close to 50 percent even in third-generation Chicanos, Montgomery graduates above 90 percent. Where nationally the black and white graduation rates seem to hover around 60 to 70 percent, Montgomery graduates above 90 percent.

I don't see "disparities" here in Montgomery, I see huge amounts of public spending with very good results.

Now, take that 90-plus percent graduation rate for Montgomery minorities and couple that with the widespread ease of getting easy loans and excellent admissions preparation assistance from the schools, and you have something like 80-90-percent of MCPS graduates attending at least some college. No doubt a lot actually graduate, and in today's extremely color-blind universities, probably graduation rates are comparable all across ethnicities. If the rates aren't comparable, it's not because nobody made the effort or spent the money. Gobs and gobs and gobs of money.

Now in most cases, evidently we got good results for the money.

However, in your case, we got a web-board troll.

I'm not pulling and "angry white man schtick". I'm not angry at the black man or black woman or the whoever or the whatever. I am angry at you.

I should be. A couple of times you pretty much called me cracker ofay and then when I tell you that you've got severe personal problems, you tell me to google a word I won a spelling-bee with back when I was in second grade. When I point out that you're just trolling, you troll some more.

Now go change your handle back to "foolio" and stop discrediting the anti-gangs and youth-outreach movements by aliasing yourself as "maryland gangs".

If you think I'm all pissed off, I am, but not because I'm white, dipspit. I'm all pissed off because I'm wasting time on a racist troll. Race isn't the problem. Asshole INDIVIDUALS like you are the problem. And any voter who can't see that can go vote for Robin Ficker.