The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.
I had a dream last night. I was hanging out on my rooftop with current city councilman Pat McKinley. We got talking about building an overhead patio. I felt like I was talking to my grandpa, who was always handy and full of ideas for home improvement. In the dream, my apartment looked out on a pre-developed Fullerton, on orange groves and sheep pastures. We talked about building a ranch house together. It was as if we were good friends.
I awoke and thought about my dream. Right now, Pat McKinley is taking a lot of public criticism in Fullerton. There is a campaign to recall him and the other two senior members of City Council for their apparent lack of leadership during the recent Kelly Thomas beating incident. I’ll admit, I disagree with a lot of Pat McKinley’s ideas, and I have criticized them at City Council meetings.
But the dream made me think about a different side of Pat McKinley. I have probably gotten to hang out with Pat more than most people my age. When I ran for city council, I participated in candidate forums and “meet and greets.” The impression that I got of him was not of an evil or corrupt man. He is a little gruff (a career in the police force will do that to a person). But he is also a nice man.
At one meet and greet at the library, Pat and I got talking about my tattoos. He said, “I’ll admit, I don’t care for tattoos, but I understand that young people see them as art.” I talked about my little prince tattoo, about how it is a good book.
In the midst of public controversy like the current Fullerton recall, I think it is important to see everyone (on both side of the issue) as a human being with thoughts, feelings, good qualities, and flaws. Should Pat McKinley be recalled? Perhaps. Does he deserve the same respect and compassion as any other human being? Absolutely.
One problem, as I see it, with American politics is a pervasive “Us vs. Them” mindset. In a community as relatively small as Fullerton, this mindset can tear a community apart. In America, we are free to disagree with each other. But when we start making personal attacks, we debase ourselves.
Pat McKinley co-authored a book with my friend Emily Roberts about female self-defense called She Bear.