Don Young Is Not A Racist!   Leave a comment

First, let me preface this by saying I’ve met the man several times and spent an entire day with him back when I was in college. So this is not just a distant observation. Politics in Alaska is closer than it is in almost any other state.

Don Young made an unfortunate comment that is “so Don”. He’s a free-speaking, off-the-cuff, doesn’t-care-if-he-offends Alaskan. This is what Alaskans love about Don. He’s one of us! You Lower 48ers can keep your suave, not-exactly-sure-where-they-stand Congresspeople. We’re hoping to replace Don with someone more conservative/libertarian and just as Alaskan.

His wife of several decades, Lulu, was a Gwich’in Athabaskan (Alaskan Indian). His daughters are also Indians. He and Lulu were completely devoted to one another. His early career was as mayor of Ft. Yukon, a Native village. He still has a home there and still goes back there during vacations and people there say he’s “just folks”. He’s not a racist.

What he said was inappropriate, although if you enter the country illegally, you are a criminal, so you really shouldn’t get up in arms when a citizen calls you a derogatory name. It might have been more appropriate to just say “illegal immigrant”, but the man’s getting old and maybe he’s tired of being politically correct when – like most of the state he represents – he isn’t.

Don has had a long and distinguished career. He chaired the House Transportation Committee for six years and the House Resources Committee for six years. He is currently the second-highest ranking Republican on both committees. He would be chairman of one of them if he hadn’t refused to sign the “no earmarks” pledge. His voting record is moderate, mostly because he has a very pro-labor record. That’s not surprising considering that almost 25% of the workers in Alaska are represented by labor unions.  He’s also anti-abortion, anti-gun control and anti-federal land control. He is one of far-too-few Republicans who voted against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. From a purely Alaskan standpoint, he has been very good to Alaska – steering a lot of federal dollars our way. As an Alaskan, I see that as a drop in the bucket to what Alaska’s resources pay to the federal government and what economic opportunities Alaskans have missed because of the federal stranglehold on our land, our resources and our environment. I used to say “Release the land hostage and Alaska will take no more federal pork.” These days, I see the federal government is in so much trouble financially from all the spending and I advocate for our delegation to cut pork wherever it can – but I still think the feds ought to release the land hostage. Don also is a big promoter of the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which is still on the table – languishing in the Senate.

So, Don is a mixed bag as a representative. I don’t think he’s any more corrupt than any of his colleagues. I like him personally. He’s very Alaskan. And, he is definitely not a racist.

This is not to say that I am not working toward the goal of replacing Don in the House. Sean Parnell nearly won against him in the 2008 primary and he’s already announced he won’t be running for a second (and a half) gubernatorial term in 2014, so chances are good, Don will be retiring. I personally hope that Don chooses to step down gracefully and allow Sean Parnell (or some other equal candidate) to take his place as the nominee. I’d really like to see an Alaskan Independent Party candidate go to DC. Don’’s done well by Alaska, but the times have changed. We need legislators who are willing to cut the pork and the regulation while still fighting for Alaska’s equal treatment among the 50 states.  Don needs to let younger folks take up that challenge.

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