The Bitter Taste of Politics

Politics are not a favorite part of my regular diet. I don’t crave the civic satisfaction some of my more enlightened friends and colleagues do. I actually never really have. When I do try and digest the platter of ballot measures, bond amendments, and candidate profiles, I feel nauseous and unsatisfied. 

Photo credit: Sommer Martin

So much of the political nature doesn’t reflect who I am and the communities I represent. Historically, as a Black man, there are forces at play that want to limit or suppress voices like mine and of those who resemble me. I’m also a gay man with a love of life and all the adventures that it brings. But there are people, who may be envious or jealous and fixated on an old, interpretive, and frequently re-written book, that want to tear down my community through cowardly acts of racism, violence, and homophobia which are familiar tools of oppression. But, this battle continues to raise injustices across the land as much as questions about the validity of displaying the Confederate flag in our current day. 

I don’t write with a goal to change anyone. I write for my own peace of mind; call it part therapy and part recreation. When I do write, I do hope that a dialogue can be created about the social disorder that is and has been dismantling the future productivity of my (our) city, state, and country. Homelessness, addiction, and poverty all intersect creating unsafe places for businesses and consumers. I personally blame the greedy city developers and soulless pharmaceutical companies who have lost sight of putting the wellbeing of people first over profit. Displacing long term residents (usually minorities) to leave their historically familiar surroundings for more affordable housing farther away from their places of worship, employment, and family. Some even fall farther into hardships and end up on the streets seeking drugs to cope or forget. 

In case you haven’t noticed, 2020 is again an election year throughout the nation. So much of the bounty and detriment of our national and global policies are cast with the decisions we make. My partner and I don’t have children, but we do support the Portland Public School system through various bond measures in order to provide a place of learning for kids that will hopefully create better people in the future. It’s an easy example of doing something for the greater good. I would never call myself a tree-hugging Oregonian, but the environmental signs of climate change are everywhere to see (drought, flooding, extreme storms) confirming that this phenomena isn’t fake news, it’s real life. So the question is: what are “we” going to do about it? Change is one of the most difficult things for humans to process, and when the privileged ones of power feel threatened that they could lose part of that privilege, they take drastic measures to prevent that from happening. 

In Portland, there are currently 15 candidates running for mayor, including the incumbent mayor, Ted Wheeler. It’s important, with so many things related to politics and with so much at stake, that we educate ourselves about the initiatives and candidates through a variety of credible sources and not rely on trendy sound bites, biased tweets, one-sided news outlets, and misinformation on Facebook. We the people, and by that I mean all of us, deserve better in our current lives, not just what we want to leave behind for our children. I’ll admit it, I am sometimes selfish and it’s hard to think beyond my own existence when external forces threaten my hard earned dollars. Our reality is that we don’t live in isolation or solitude and we have to be willing to meet others in the middle, or find common ground when it comes to making this world a better place now. 

Still, the act of compromise is designed that the related parties give a little, to gain some mutually accepted benefit. I’m tired of being a global embarrassment filled with one sensational headline after another. I’m more than aware that our democratic process isn’t perfect and requires constant tweaking to make certain things are balanced and equitable. But what’s been happening lately, has been the exact opposite creating an impasse and a trail of angry and confused constituents on both sides of the political tracks. There are also the barriers to voting such as lack of language access, polling station closures, and cyber issues that have become all too common in parts of the country. Luckily, here in Oregon we have mail in ballots. 

These are historic times and so many of the liberties we have grown and have fought to enjoy, are now being quickly eroded away. My partner (Eric) and I have known each other for 35 years and have been together for 20 of those years. In April, he and I will celebrate our second year of marriage. Given the ever increasing conservative direction our government is headed, this causes us both concern that we will lose this right to marry the one we love. Even people with pre-existing health conditions, women, and immigrant folks should also pay close attention to who we select not just to represent us in our cities and states, but also who we’d like in the as our political top chef. We should be careful not to quickly gulp down whatever the chef wants to shove down our throats just to get to a dessert that is void of flavor and substance.

A word of caution for those who rush through meals. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a case of the hiccups with a nasty aftertaste and a gassy reminder to everyone around you of your bad choices. 

Please Vote Responsibly!