You’re on a road trip. You stop for gas and pick up a burrito out of the counter-top warming oven. Three hours later you come down with a volcanic case of the trots. What do you do? Do you turn around and go back to that gas station and rant against the kid who sold you the burrito, or do you pull into CVS, get a bottle of Kaopectate, and drive on?
That, however earthy, is a metaphor for the current debate in the Democratic primary.
I get it that a lot of elections are about the past and rarely about the future for the simple reason it’s a lot easier to re-litigate and obsess over history than speculate about the future. At least with history you are on somewhat safe ground with what passes for facts and truth, whereas with the future, it’s all up for grabs.
But here we are talking about busing to achieve racial integration, something I remember that was in the news when I was in high school in 1970. Is this really how we’re going to decide the presidential election when most of the people casting votes weren’t alive when this topic was on the front page for the first time?
And this isn’t the only election where the past comes back to haunt us. In 2004 we had to go back to Vietnam and the Mekong Delta with John Kerry; again fighting a war that was lost fifty years before.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of our history and where it has led us and what we can learn from it, nor should we not hold those who were in office all those years ago accountable for what they did then and how they see themselves now and their place in our future.
Paradoxically, we are still dealing with the aftereffects of busing; racial integration is still a concern in the public schools. But it’s more important to consider and plan for what we must do now. Any campaign for public office, be it city council or president of the United States, has to be about where we’re going and what we’ve learned, not what we should do about something that happened in 1970.
In other words, now you know to plan ahead, pack a lunch, and don’t buy a burrito at a gas station.