Time for Authentic Leaders to Bring Us Together
Twenty Summit County experts gathered at the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office for a thoughtful analysis of the nature of drug addition to call for reasonable reforms to help prevent addiction, treat addicts, and heal communities.
162 residents of Summit County have died of overdoses in the past year. The article emphasized more than once that the victims come ‘from all walks of life.’
This is wonderful. Seriously. I am (again) proud of Sherrod Brown and Russ Pry and other leaders driving this conversation. And my next comment has nothing much less to with them than it reflects on what happens when other leaders gather and call for action against drug addiction.
Even though the article is careful to emphasize that the victims come from all walks of life, the numbers indicate this is overwhelmingly a white, middle-class problem. Of 162 dead only seven are black.
If…no stop, I do not need to imagine.
When the situation was reversed and the drug addiction problem was mostly black we saw different leaders gathering in different locations, uninterested in any analysis of the nature of drug addiction or reform, but instead calling for a ‘war on drugs’ designed to punish more and more severely the largely black victims of the crack epidemic.
The article concluded with an honest insight that begins to help us understand the vast difference between how we approached a drug addiction problem when the victims were largely black versus how we now approach it when the victims are largely white.
‘Many attendees said one of the biggest problems was the public’s failure to acknowledge addiction as a legitimate issue.
“Communities don’t think it’s a problem until it’s in their community,” said Jerry Craig, executive director of the Summit County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Illness Board.’
The AkronBeacon Journal is my local paper and I am proud of that fact--I enjoy reading it every day. I am also happy to see the Editorial page challenge our police chief’s emotional claims about a ‘Ferguson Effect.’
But the challenge is weak and beside the point. The partial and inconsistent evidence on homicides does not even begin to help us figure out if the chief is onto something that is actually happening or not.
The chief’s own decision to adopt body cameras is much stronger evidence that the chief’s claim is mostly defensiveness from inside a professional bubble that is not accustomed to the kind of challenges to its authority we are witnessing today.
If police officers are now more likely to think twice before shooting a citizen, there is no universe in which that is not a good thing. In the absence of data to the contrary, a claim that some small percentage of officers being more hesitant about shooting citizens is causing a rise in crime is, on its face, implausible.
And it fundamentally misrepresents the relationship between effective police work and crime prevention.
This moves the claim from implausible more than likely sound-bite sabotage, with deep roots in elites more interested in punishment than problem solving.
That is, it transforms into a claim designed to mislead us about what is actually going on, insulate and reinforce the power of those already with more power, and turn down the heat on those already in charge who would rather have more of a free hand to operate without scrutiny.
Steve Chapman provides a good, highly critical, analysis of Bernie Sander’s Medicare for All plan.
‘His plan to replace our health insurance system with “Medicare for All” is in some ways a dramatic break with the status quo. But it rests on an old and thoroughly conventional formula: Promise voters they will get more and better health care without paying for it.’
Michael Gerson provides some memorable phrases in his analysis of the populist anti-intellectualism (versus anti-elitism) in the Palin-Trump alliance.
‘Ted Cruz may have secured the coveted Duck Dynasty blessing. But Palin is the original and best representative of Kardashian conservatism. Her endorsement of Donald Trump was entirely devoid of policy content — a speech that did not even aspire to shallowness…
Palin has been entirely consumed and replaced by her own bitterness against a Republican establishment she feels betrayed her, and against a media that mocked her. More than anything else she clings to resentment and rage. And her revolution, over time, has become comprehensive; not just a revolt against elites, but a revolt against syntax and taste and preparation and reason…
Trump is not proposing obnoxious solutions to real challenges; he is promoting obnoxious solutions to fake or wildly exaggerated challenges. His anti-intellectualism is severing the ties between the GOP and reality. If Republicans choose to inhabit the Trump-Palin world, they will offer little of value to our own.’
But, I wonder if any of this matters. If traditional factors that drive elections were still behind the wheel here, Trump (and certainly Palin) would long ago have been booted out of the conversation.
It feels great (and is accurate) to dump on Trump for his ignorance and Cruz for being a dangerous ideologue, but we are likely distracting ourselves from what we all need to do, D and R and more, to prevent our country from the profound harms that will result from a Trump-Palin presidency, even from a Trump-Palin general election campaign that they lose.
Moderate Republicans need to step up (as some already are) to definitively displace Trump from his place in this process. Democrats and independent leaders and talking heads in the media need to do what is possible to make this more likely to happen, including enthusiastically (and honestly) praising the moderates (Kasich?) who do this as American heroes.
Finally, check out this Headspace meditation app (also covered in the ABJ today—love this paper and encourage all to subscribe).