“I’m all for the human race”
An elected politician saunters slowly up to the microphone. He squints as light bulbs flash in the background. The room is abuzz with idle chatter, which tapers off as he takes a swig of water and clears his sizable throat.
“Ladies and gentlemen” he begins, “Entrepreneurs, civic leaders, members of the press; I’m glad you could all make it today.” He pauses to survey the crowd and, satisfied that they’re drinking this all up, he clears his throat again and continues:
“Democracy, George Bernard Shaw once observed, is based upon the belief that voters know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard….
“I certainly hope he was right because, after much cajoling by supporters, I have decided to run for the Presidency of the United States of America.”
The audience erupts in cheer. One hundred people get on their cellular phones at the same time. The bulbs flash at an even more furious pace than before. For one whole minute, the place is a genuine zoo. It calms down and he continues his speech.
When it’s over, he opens himself up for questions from the audience. A reporter in the front row asks what his position is on race.
“I don’t go to the racetrack” he replies.
Everybody laughs and he points at a lady at a nearby table. “What is your position on affirmative action?” she asks.
“I don’t think it’s very affirmative,” he replies.
Cheers and hoots go through the crowd. He pointedly picks non-reporters for the next three questions, but on man number four, he misses the notebook concealed under her plate.
Says a twentysomething blonde, “With all due respect, Governor, I think you’re dodging the tough questions. What is your position on race issues?”
“Oh, you mean the human race,” he replies, “I’m all for it. Next question!”
She shouts back, undeterred, “How would your policies benefit African Americans!?”
“How would my policies benefit black Americans, Miss Myers? I’m not sure I like the blatantly racist assumptions behind that question. I don’t like this trend which treats our differences as the only things that matter. My policies would affect black Americans the same way they would affect white Americans or brown Americans or red Americans or yellow Americans or, for that matter, blue Americans.”
“But what about racism and discrimination?” she shoots back, “what would your policies do to insure that African-Americans aren’t discriminated against.”
“Well, first, I would treat everybody as human beings, which is more than you are willing to concede to me at this moment. Second, I would never — NEVER — use the term African American. It’s degrading. My Irish ancestors came here and were given the title Irish American as a way of mocking them and watering down their citizenship. Third, I would cease to use the term race. PERIOD. If I had to use a substitute for race it would be the lumbering “pigmentation of skin”, the difficulty of pronouncing which would go a long way toward obliterating the concept of race. Fourth, I wouldn’t kid people. Life is unfair sometimes and government usually only makes it worse. Fifth, and last, I would tell all Americans that here you are free. To toil and sweat and, sometimes, to fail. But, here, you can truly succeed. It’s all up to you. Make the most of it.”
He would then refuse to ever address the issue of race again.
This is a candidate I could vote for.
Copyright © 1999 Jeremy Lott. All rights reserved.