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    Categories: Commentary

Unpredictable past

With numerous individuals declaring to run for a councillor position, or the mayor’s position, in St. Albert, I find myself being caught up in this political passion. Indeed, a few friends have suggested I should seek office, but to honour the need for full disclosure, most acquaintances have suggested I should seek help, instead.

However, recent events in the U.S.A. have caused me to exercise caution on this office-seeking idea. For example, we have seen numerous statues of Confederate leaders being removed and/or demolished by angry citizens, while Andrew Jackson will no longer featured on U.S. currency, due to racist tendencies during his lifetime. In fact, there is so much altering of history occurring now in the U.S.A. that I think it’s fair to say that America is in danger of becoming the first nation in the world with an “unpredictable past.”

A quick check shows that twelve American presidents owned slaves, with George Washington being the first, and Ulysses S. Grant being the last. Many famous presidents are included on the slave-owning list, including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, and Andrew Jackson. If Americans really are serious about “punishing” those leaders whose policies and opinions no longer fit modern culture, a lot of changes will be required. For example, Washington State will need a name change, as will the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. When we also consider memorials, municipalities, bridges, universities and other Washington-named sites, the list grows by nearly 500 additional items requiring a name change.  In the case of James Madison, 24 separate states have towns or cities named Madison, while Wisconsin’s state capital is – you guessed it – Madison, Wisconsin. Other issues include such locations as Madison Square Gardens, and Madison Avenue, both in New York City, as well as George Washington University. In fact, New York (city and state) really gets hammered on this name changing issue, as New York is also home to “Grant’s Tomb” – a memorial dedicated to President (and slave owner) Ulysses S. Grant.  The situation is much the same for presidents James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson. In fact, this issue goes beyond just the U.S.A., as the capital of the West African nation of Liberia is Monrovia – named after U.S. President James Monroe. It’s anyone’s guess as to how foreign nations will react when the U.S.A. demands they start changing names in their own countries.

Because of these issues, I likely will not run for office (despite what the cynics say, this has nothing to do with the astronomically low probability of me winning).   Rather, I fear what future generations may think of my administration, and the thought of ruined statues of myself are just too painful to consider. However, I am still accepting cash donations, so feel free to donate early and often!

Brian McLeod: