Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why I Stand By Mitch McConnell Today

Act #62:  Don't be a hypocrite.

On February 14, the Democratic PAC group Progress Kentucky posted a picture of former Secretary of Labor, and wife of Mitch McConnell, Elaine Chao and tweeted:  "This woman has the ear of McConnell— she's his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!"

In 2001, former state Democratic Party chairwoman Nikki Patton apologized for saying that McConnell "passed up some good Kentucky pork to chow down at the Chinese money buffet."

One of my biggest personal insecurities is that at the end of the day, regardless of what I may have accomplished, how much I may be committed to the region, when push comes to shove, I will never be judged beyond the color of my skin.  Years ago, following an office renovation that included a fresh coat of yellow paint, a visitor walked in and said, "I see they changed the paint to match the new director!"  Shortly after that, when I was scheduled to speak with a volunteer group in a nearby county, someone left a telephone message with my administrative assistant that said, "Don't send anyone unless they are from Appalachia."  And there were countless people like the man on the other end of my phone line who called to complain about the international and foreign student "take-over" on the college campus that I once worked.

If someone like Elaine Chao, who holds an MBA from Harvard, 34 honorary doctorates, and who served as one of the nation's most influential public officers, as director of the Peace Corps and CEO of United Way of America, can be reduced to an all-you-can-eat food buffet, seriously, do the rest of us even have a chance?  And perhaps what stings just as much as the racist antics, is the fact that despite her own credentials, Ms. Chao is being portrayed as a brainless, manipulative, footnote in the Mitch McConnell story, someone whose sole purpose in life is to influence her husband's politics.

So, today, I will do the unthinkable and set all politics aside (yes, this is really pushing my comfort zone).  And it will only happen this once, most likely.  But you never know.  I will stand in solidarity with Mitch McConnell.  Because while we may never be in agreement about social policies, women's rights, and fiscal spending, we do have one thing in common:  we hold people accountable for attacking, race-baiting, and divisive rhetoric.  May we all remember this when it starts to get ugly during campaign season in 2014.  God bless the America that Ms. Chao's parents believed in so much, that they left their homeland for.


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