Past vs. present: 35 years is a long time for change

Isabella Keaton, Features Editor

The amount a person can transform and grow within 35 years seems immeasurable. Individuals experience multiple challenges through their 20s, 30s, and even 40s that can shape someone’s character. Researchers even say that a human brain cannot fully develop until in one’s mid-twenties, and—even then—the brain still can grow, can change immensely. One might say your past is in the past, but—for some extreme cases—the past seems to challenge people’s qualifications for teaching, coaching, or governing.

On Friday, February 1, a 35 year-old photo surfaced of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and created a political war that may end in Northam’s resignation. The photo, featured in Northam’s page of his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook, showed him dressed in blackface, and a separate yearbook showed a nickname he previously went by as “coonman.”

The racial slur and racist yearbook photo both showed how Northam inappropriately acted during medical school, but neither can reflect his true professionalism nor his capability of governing Virginia.

As anyone would expect, Northam lost many supporters after the photo surfaced, but of these people, none could base their forsakened support on anything other than the leaked, 35 year-old photo.

The state legislature went into an emergency meeting during the Sunday night Super Bowl to discuss Northam’s future. The public spoke their minds and the Virginia Democratic party responded with a unanimous decision saying Northam should resign as governor to calm the public.

Comparing Northam’s situation to other politicians scared from past behavior, 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrote an essay in the 1970s glorifying rape in women’s dreams and men’s desires. When the essay originally came out to the public, the Sanders committee ignored the whole disruption and simply pushed the statements and comments aside.

One simple interview divides these two political situations—Sanders glorifying rape and Northam embodying racism—where Northam proceeded to advocated for infanticide. Northam previously expressed his acceptance of a type of post-birth abortion called infanticide. The media immediately erupted once Northam made his statement and the Republican website Big League Politics dug up anything and everything they could on the governor which which would perpetuate the demise of his reputation, and inevitably led to the unearthing of his horrifyingly racist medical school yearbook picture.

In a desperate attempt to remove the democrat from office, the media set a fire in the public to cloud his political statement on abortion. Still, Northam should not resign due to the release of an offensive photo he took 35 years ago. 35 years seems as enough time for Northam to reverse his inappropriate ways and make peace with himself.

His racist photo dated back to 1984, but his governing and political skills stay standing in 2019.