This week, the race to replace Bobby Rush commences. As with any seat replacing a long-time incumbent, many good people have demonstrated interest. Many of us have a long history and track record of serving the Black community and the greater Southside of Chicago. But how we approach the next 16 weeks will either create great momentum for change or great community angst and brokenness in need of repair. It is up to us to choose which will appear.
Politics can strain the strongest of relationships. Many of the candidates are friendly with one another and have held multiple decade relationships. As we know the Black community in Chicago is a closely connected network of people, much closer than other cities. Lots of people have multiple friends in the race and have been struggling with how to either divide their support or pick one person while not angering the others. Many doing business are wrestling with the desire to financially support some in a way that doesn’t cause detriment to their business interests.
These tensions can destroy years of relationship and goodwill on the South Side. If not handled correctly, the next four months could permanently scar an already fragile Black community. Whether or not it does is really up to us as candidates.
That’s why I am raising my hand and asking others who are trying to make the ballot to join me in elevating the tone and discourse during this campaign.
Most of us generally agree on issues that affect the first district. Whether it be voting rights protection, student loan forgiveness, health and pay equity, education and youth investment and crime reduction, our positions are not radically different. Our differences lie in our backgrounds, experience, and approaches we will bring to the office. We need and should use all legal means to make distinctions between each other. We should vigorously debate our differences. But in the end, we must not reduce ourselves to demeaning personal attacks to score political points. When we go low, no one wins. People and families are hurt, voters become disengaged, and ultimately our community loses.
Let us aspire to higher levels of conversation. We can make our best case to voters without diminishing anyone else’s work. If friends choose not to support you, instead of bestowing heaps of guilt, let’s encourage them to show up at the ballot box. In the end, if we take this approach our entire community wins, regardless of the electoral outcome and that’s the victory we should all be fighting for anyway.
Candidate for Congress
Illinois – 01