My Turn, Pam Bloom: Don’t be afraid to make ‘good trouble’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 10, 2021

By Pam Bloom

As a child of the ’70s and still possessing a keen distrust of authority, I never imagined such a down the rabbit hole political reality as I’ve seen these last several years.

I am constantly reading across the political spectrum, attempting to find both sides of an issue and trying to understand the nuances and, in particular, what they mean on the local level. I’m concerned about our Salisbury municipal election and think it’s time to ask questions and make what the esteemed statesman John Lewis called “good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Once upon a time city politics could be legitimately nonpartisan. Indeed, a Salisbury strength is small town friendships. Yet that strength can be our weakness. The usual old boy/old girl club of “let’s all get along” may feel comfortable and appear collaborative. However, I’ve noticed a tendency to lip service agreement, with controversial ideas quickly swept under the rug or sent to committee, politely avoiding real action or healthy discussion.

Sadly, I’ve reached a point of skepticism with the motivation of some nonpartisan contenders in the mayoral and city council race. Candidates whom I might have considered moderate a few years ago and worthy of my vote have now chosen to align themselves with the more radical factions within our county. If you remain silent when the company you keep continues to move away from traditional conservatism and are complacent in your silence or acquiescence to these new norms, I have to ask what will you do if you have to take an uncomfortable stand?

Four candidates in our mayor and city council election appear either willing participants or opportunists with their attendance at a July 31st event billed on flyers as the Rowan County Patriot’s Rally. Their four names were listed as representing county seat elections and all spoke at the event. The poster carried the official Rowan County seal and the promise to  “Come meet your fellow patriots in the community so you know who has your back and who you can turn to if things get worse.” Sponsored by the Rowan County Patriot Alliance, names listed also included 2022 candidate hopefuls and our current N.C. General Assembly representative and senator. Guest speakers were the Rowan Rifles commander and Tea Party leader and a Fame Preservation Group representative. One of the council candidates described our current mayor pro tem as being the recipient of a lobotomy. A friend from the Sloan Park neighborhood attended and said the remark was received with laughter and applause. In a follow up interview by the Post, that candidate said it was just a joke. The Post noted that the mayor pro tem did not respond to a request for comment and that was the end of the story.  Interestingly, there was no coverage of the views of the other three candidates about the inappropriateness of speaking of a contender in such a derogatory way. Post coverage also described this event as a candidate forum rather than calling it by the advertised name. The Post did note that it was “hosted and moderated by members of the local Republican Party chapter.” (Perhaps the Salisbury Post will share the original poster.)

I’ve noticed for years that a common element of Salisbury and Rowan politics and culture is to make nice and to be quiet to those in power. Why would anyone ask uncomfortable, unsettling, disagreeable questions? Can’t we all just get along? Yet life, like politics, is about ideas that can make us uncomfortable. I remind myself regularly that feeling uncomfortable isn’t a bad thing. It keeps me growing as a person and those unsettling and disagreeable questions often lead to positive change. I want elected officials who ask hard questions and push the envelope to make Salisbury a more vibrant city. I want progress for all of us, not the same old, same old. In the words of John Lewis, “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Let’s use our voices and ask questions, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Pam Bloom is an unaffiliated voter who lives in Salisbury.