Matt Bevin gave a stirring speech Tuesday night after it appeared he had won the Republican gubernatorial primary by 83 votes.
Although we are awaiting the results of a recanvass requested by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who ran second, Bevin appeared in his element in accepting the nomination.
Flanked by his wife and nine children, and running mate Jenean Hampton and her husband, Bevin began by thanking his family and several people who had volunteered in his campaign. Then he took time to re-introduce Hampton to those who might not have noticed her during the campaign.
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Hampton is a well-educated, successful black woman from Detroit who is also a veteran. Her parents were divorced when she was 7, leaving her mother to raise four girls alone.
Bevin said Hampton's mother, who was in the crowd, reared the girls "not to be victims, not to make excuses, but to rise and take ownership of their lives. God bless you, ma'am, for setting that example." Stirring.
Just seeing the cute faces of Bevin's children behind him, faces that were black and white, and seeing Hampton to one side, standing next to her husband, who is white, is the type of world I believe we should all strive for. Black and white together. United.
My desire for unity is how I allow Sen. Rand Paul to pull me into his web of politics occasionally when he talks about the need to reform the criminal justice system, which has been unfair to black people.
Conservatives and liberals can be on the same page about social justice issues and differ only on economic ones.
And then I wake up.
With Bevin, the wake-up call came when his words simply did not match the visuals Tuesday night.
In talking about Hampton, Bevin said she "grew up in the '50s and '60s in inner-city Detroit when things that we are seeing in places like Baltimore pale in comparison to what happened as that city devolved into the type of chaos that happens when non-conservative ideas rise to the top."
All this time, I thought the violent disturbances in Detroit in 1967 had something to do with police brutality. I thought it started when police raided an unlicensed bar where black people were celebrating the return of soldiers from the Vietnam War.
An angry crowd gathered as the police arrested the party-goers. When the looting and burning of buildings became too much, Michigan Gov. George Romney called in the National Guard, and President Lyndon Johnson sent in the Army. The unrest lasted five days.
The initial reaction was to police tactics, but segregated housing and schools, and a high unemployment rate in the black community did not help one bit.
Don't dismiss the negative effects of racism by blaming racial unrest on non-conservatives. What could conservatives have done to lessen the reality of oppression and racism in that city? Why didn't they do it?
Conservatism is not the cure for all that ails this state or this country. And neither is liberalism. I wish it were.
I really would like to have Republicans and Democrats alike see the problems of this state and this country as something more than sound bites.
What ailed Detroit had very little to do with conservatives or liberals. It had more to do with our lack of compassion for the underserved.
I agree with Bevin's support for parental choice in educating their children in Kentucky. Yes, it would take money from the public school system, but I'm not sure why children should suffer in a system that is not educating them. Either improve the system or set parents free to find something better.
But then Bevin said his conservatism also means killing Kynect by the end of 2016. That is the only means of medical insurance for about 400,000 Kentuckians. How will they have medical care after that? Maybe he could dive into his bank account and ask his donors to do the same to help supplement the costs of Kynect so the poor can continue to have access to doctors. That would be conservatism with compassion.
I'd rather see that than endless political commercials on TV.
And he said he is pro-family. What does that mean? Who isn't? Surely those aren't code words opposing marriage equality. Where is the compassion in that?
I loved seeing Bevin's family on stage with him. I loved seeing Hampton there as well. And I truly loved the "We are Kentucky" refrain.
It's just that Bevin's words are dismissive of a lot of people that a bit more compassion could bring to his campaign.
Aren't they Kentucky, too?