It has felt to me since the election that we are in one long and never-ending meeting and that the longer this meeting lasts the more people we lose and the less able we are to act. There is no sign that this will end anytime soon. With that in mind, then, it was good to go down to Bentley's last night for the Salem NAACP's new officer meet-and-greet and socialize a bit.
Many new and unfamiliar faces were present. I am happy to see a friend from the Muslim community attending more of these events and people engaging with him. I am thankful to the NAACP for their ability to bring people together and not have top-heavy political messaging. I'm glad that these events draw a multi-class crowd and that we have the opportunity to consolidate relationships over time and that new people showing up adds to the exciting mix.
A spectrum of political opinions were represented last night. Bud Pierce, the Republican challenger in the Governor's race, was there, as were Keizer's chief of police and a number of Black pastors, all of whom fit comfortably into the right-wing or conservative side of the political spectrum. Tom Andersen and Peter Bergel and others around them formed a kind of liberal front. Over time we are seeing the liberal and conservative forces form relationships in a negotiated comfort zone. Let's hope that this benefits us all. And there were a few of us radicals there, of course. I think that the most interesting group in the room are the folks who are simply trying to navigate the political and social terrain, people with no obvious political bent and with diverse interests. Among them are many people who have a genius and an ability for, say, math or logic or education. Interesting and good people!
It is also interesting to me who does not show up for these events. If Bud Pierce is showing up, why isn't Kate Brown? If our current mayor can take a public stand for racial justice, where is our incoming mayor in all of this? Tom Andersen says that he is, or will be, the lone liberal on city council; where are the other city councilpersons? Can we get people from the other communities of color to show up? And, most importantly, what about the Black working class in the county?
It was a great evening thanks to the efforts of Marilyn Williams, Benny Williams, Reggie Hendrix and the folks who make the NAACP work every day. We can celebrate our recent victory at City Council and we have many battles ahead of us.