“Because I couldn’t get it done.”
That was Pete’s heart-stopping answer on June 28 to presidential debate moderator Rachel Maddow, who asked him why the police force in South Bend, Indiana — where Pete is the second-term Mayor — is only 6% black while the city is 26% black.
“Because I couldn’t get it done.”
South Bend has been reeling from the recent shooting of a black man, Eric Logan, by a white police officer, Sgt. Ryan O’Neill. An independent investigation is underway. A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by Logan’s family. For his part, Mayor Pete who presented his plan to tackle systemic racism in America (The Douglass Plan for Black America) four days before the shooting of Mr. Logan, has insisted that as mayor, it is his responsibility to fix the racial imbalance in the South Bend police force and address ongoing racism in other sectors of his community.
But ever since Pete uttered those astonishing words of self-blame, a still stunned America has been asking, “What kind of politician would say something like that?”
I’ll take a stab at answering that question.
It’s a man of the highest moral values whose soul is wracked by the pain of the loss of a life.
It is an individual who had the courage to answer the moderator’s question with the undistorted truth — never accusing, mocking, or slandering another; and above all, not lying to redirect culpability to someone else.
It is a person who understands at the deepest level that the blight of systemic racism in America is a domestic problem and a national shame to be confronted and solved by those who lead our cities, our states and our country.
It is someone who has said that he lives for the day when a person who is stopped by police — be he white or black — has a sense of safety; not fear for his life.
It is a man who has the raw courage to answer for the unrelenting racial injustices in our judicial system, though he is blameless for them.
It is a determined, ethical leader who acknowledges that many of the worst historical injustices visited upon black citizens of our country come at the hands of local law enforcement.
It is an elected official that — according to a video just released by a black resident of South Bend — inherited a “deep seated’, but unspoken racist culture within city government; yet he owns the problem.
It is an indefatigable leader whose thorough ‘Douglass Plan’ for addressing
American racism offers well-conceived solutions to address racial inequities in housing, health care, education, policing, criminal justice, voting rights and more.
It is a man whose keenness for utter transparency and “the buck stops here” leadership approach caused him to say the words that few, if any, candidates for public office would ever express publicly. That is for fear it might spell their doom — rather than their ascension in the minds of so many who hunger for truth, truth, truth and the highest ethical leadership possible.
Well, Pete, no one person can change what is rooted so deeply in this country. (But if anyone could, I am most certain it would be you.) I know that much of the anger and frustration over this issue has been heaped upon you of late — now with the whole world watching. You have borne it with profound strength and unquestionable honor. For that, and for all you are and for all you will be as President of the United States, you have my vote and my unyielding support.
“Because I couldn’t get it done.” The bravest words ever spoken in a presidential debate.