Rex Scott: Politicians should heed Carters’ principles, lest children learn lessons of hate

Rex Scott
5 Min Read

Pima County Supervisor Rex Scott was elected in 2020 to represent
District 1 on the Board of Supervisors. He was a teacher and
administrator in local public schools from 1991-2019.

Rosalynn Carter recently died. After her husband lost the 1980 presidential election, they started the Carter Center to help further causes like democracy, human rights and peace. The center has established five principles for trusted elections: honest processes, civil campaigns, secure voting, fair oversight and trusted outcomes. An offshoot of the center in our state, the Arizona Democracy Resilience Network, publicizes and promotes these principles.

One day after Mrs. Carter passed, the ADRN held an interfaith prayer service at St. Philip’s in the Hills Church. One of the group’s leaders, former U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, was a featured speaker, as were leaders from many faith communities around our region. Each one of them addressed the crucial need for all Americans to commit to these five principles to protect and preserve our electoral processes. 

This is especially vital in a time when some politicians, in order to further their own selfish ends, promote falsehoods about the accuracy, fairness and security of our elections.

Prior to my election as a supervisor, I served as a teacher and administrator in our public schools for almost 30 years. Getting back into our schools and talking with students about Pima County government and the roles it plays in their lives gives me great joy. Not too long ago, I visited a K-12 public charter school and met with students from their elementary, middle and high school grade levels.

A 3rd-grade boy posed a question near the end of my presentation that informed and saddened me. At his young age, he knew that political candidates “run” for the offices they seek. He therefore referred to us as “runners.” His poignant and telling question was:

“Why do all the runners hate each other?”

His question demonstrated that he was already acutely aware of the divisive and toxic nature of politics in his time. The nods and murmurs of assent from his schoolmates of various ages showed their painful understanding as well. I tried to offer a response equal to the seriousness of the question but could do no better than stale platitudes about how adults needed to be better examples for him and his peers.

During the town hall meetings I have conducted with my constituents since that school visit, I have shared this story. It always evokes a knowing response from the adults in the room. After telling the story, I talk about the two commitments I have made to show that student that I understood what he was telling me.

The first commitment is to keep in mind what I tried to remember as both a parent and as an educator: our children are always watching us. They also pay more attention to what we do than what we say. Our actions as their role models must exemplify the honorable behavior we hope for from them in the future.

The second commitment is to do what I can as both an elected leader and a candidate not to contribute to the ugliness and negativity he could sadly attest to at a very young age. The Carter Center calls on candidates to conduct “civil campaigns” as one of their five principles. Those of us entrusted with public office must also do the people’s work in a civil manner that sets the right example for all of our constituents, especially the youngest ones.

With next year being one in which we will elect people to serve in local, state and federal offices, all of us planning to be “runners” in those elections need to be mindful of the fact that all the people we seek to serve will be watching how we conduct ourselves. 

We have a duty to each of them to be true to the values and beliefs that undergird our electoral systems and processes. We need to be ever mindful that those who represent our posterity will watch us most closely.

Rex Scott news,politics,education,arizona,opinion

2023-11-28 04:10:35 , All Headlines |

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