by Patrick Mongeau (b. 1984)
If there is one thing Barack Obama did to influence presidential politics in this last election, it was to reverse the nature of the conversation from negative to positive. He responded in a positive manner to accusations against him, careful not to keep silent when attacked, but thoughtful and direct in his response. It wasn't always easy, but it gave birth to the important conversation always lurking underneath.
Obama made sure that the 2008 campaign talked about governmental issues, instead of frivolous scandals that might oust the right person for the job from the race based on hearsay. But Obama wasn't able to pull local politics up with him.
Case in point: the newly elected mayor of Portland, Sam Adams, had to skip Obama's inauguration because he is facing a personal scandal. Apparently, in 2005, he dated and had sex with Beau Breedlove (real name), who was only 18 at the time. Adams was 42. Now, the establishment is clamoring for his resignation, based on the pretext that he denied the relationship in his 2007 bid for office. I’m only two years older than Breedlove. At eighteen, I was fully capable of choosing a sexual partner, but I'm still not capable of telling the world specific details of my sex life. Why ask so much of our public officers?
The great triumph in Adams' election, he is openly gay, was that it seemed we had accepted the simple truth that his sex life has nothing to do with how qualified he is for the job. The mirror of Obama's election is too obvious to ignore. If someone wants to use his race against him now, they'd try to get him to lie about a personal matter dealing with his race. This is abusive politics.
In the private sector, Adams could easily win a suit against a company ousting him for the same action. We have a government that is run by the people, meaning by some among us. We must allow those in government, then, to be people, and that means accepting their humanity. Let us find compassion for each other in public life.
Patrick Mongeau is a screenwriter, poet, songwriter, joker, thinker, friend, brother, son, cousin, movie critic, bike commuter, bus rider, babysitter, futon seller, pedi-cab driver, temp worker, production assistant, guitar player, and all around good guy. He lives in the world.