Trying to not get run over as people raced with their carts
to buy bulk bottled water and toilet paper this weekend had
me thinking hard about the future of our politics. Joe Biden
and Bernie Sanders, two septuagenarians, are the last
Democratic Party presidential candidates standing in a world
moving at breakneck speed and possibly careening out of
It finally dawned on me to get a perspective from someone
with quicker reflexes than either the presidential
candidates or myself. I was pleased that Elgin Rogers, a
millennial, agreed to provide me with a panoramic view of
current politics from a millennial’s angle.
Rogers has worked as researcher and instructor at Indiana
University focusing on African American politics. He
currently serves in the Lucas County Auditor’s office where
he has held several titles including the Assistant Chief of
Staff, Executive Assistant, Director of Department of
Education and Outreach; and Assistant in the Department of
Weights and Measures.
What is your take on the 2020 Presidential race?
My take is that Bernie Sanders looks like his back is up
against the wall. He said himself that his campaign failed
to get young people to turn out to vote, those he thought
that his campaign would be energized by. The folks are
saying that they want a nominee who they may not necessarily
agree with 100 percent, but who could defeat our current
president head to head.
Perryman: Are folks saying
that young people seem to be more revolution-minded?
Rogers: I don’t know if they’re
revolution-minded. Today’s young people are policy
Perryman: Please elaborate.
Rogers: Young people no longer
understand party loyalty. I think that they have a
different view and they’re not limited to buying everything
that’s just on the menu, they’re doing things a-la-cart. In
other words, they’re pulling in the traits, characteristics
and issues that are most salient to them and they’re
supporting those things. I don’t think that they have yet
found a candidate that embodies most of what they’re
Perryman: The Trump
campaign invested millions into Facebook and other social
media, possibly with the help of Russians, and many have
said that it shifted the election based upon a lot of the
misinformation that people bought into. Will we see that
again in 2020 and will it have an effect on the election?
Rogers: I think what we’re
going to see now is that Facebook is pretty much like a
beauty and barbershop in the 2016 election. You hear what
you hear and see what you see and you take it with a grain
Perryman: Do you mean by
“take it with a grain of salt” that people will be less
naïve in 2020 than they were in 2016?
Rogers: I think people will
more likely tune into who’s supporting their values and
belief systems because they’re looking for information and
sources that will affirm them and their way of thinking.
Perryman: Former candidate
and billionaire Michael Bloomberg has pledged personnel as
well as money to help Joe Biden’s campaign. Do you think
that Bloomberg’s assistance will be a factor?
Rogers: Well, I just saw a
commercial not long ago with President Obama talking about
how great Joe Biden is, so it’s gonna take not only the
resources of Bloomberg and some African American surrogates
who black folks are in touch with and are familiar with to
help push Biden over the edge. One thing we also need to
recognize when we talk about voter apathy is that these
candidates are recruiting and posturing for black votes and
if black people didn’t vote they wouldn’t be posturing. We
need to understand that black votes matter and black folks
need to also understand that black votes change the outcome
and course of the election. We saw it in South Carolina and
you will see locally that black votes matter when it comes
to supporting levies and different ballot issues that are
put forth. We really should consider how strong of a voice
that we, as African Americans, have when we use it.
Perryman: What effect do
you think Pete Buttigieg’s candidacy might have on future
Rogers: Buttigieg gives you
another perspective as a young up and comer. He’s a
political entrepreneur, but he also transformed how people
look at small town mayors when getting on the big stage.
And, for many people he’s an inspiration in terms of running
for office and understanding issues of equality injustice.
Perryman: What do you think
about Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy?
Rogers: Warren candidacy was
very substance oriented; she had a lot of different points
that seemed very progressive and that were forward
thinking. I think it’s still a challenge if you’re a
minority or a woman candidate, because there are certain
style points in conveying your message that people are
looking for across the various demographics.
Perryman: Let’s close our
conversation with a local issue. What are your thoughts on
Rogers: People want the roads
fixed because they want nice roads. They don’t want to see
the orange barrels and cones, and in many of the circles
that I travel and listen to the people on the ground, there
is a belief that they’ve already paid for these roads. So,
where is this money going? My personal opinion is that a
lot of times they don’t understand government and that each
administration is different and I’m trusting that this
administration is going to do what’s right for the people.
Perryman: Does that mean
that you supported it?
Rogers: I want my roads fixed,
but the question is how are we going to pay for it and what
does that mean for African American jobs? I don’t know if
we have anything in the legislation that talks about
minority contracting or minority business being a part (of
the measure), but I’m definitely in support of getting these
roads fixed and developing and maintaining our
Perryman: Well, finally
then, when are you planning to run for office and what do
you plan to run for?
Rogers: Well, the first thing
that I’m running for is to do a better job in our
community. I think that we need more young people and
people of color serving on boards and commissions. It gives
them the experience and the understanding of networking,
community service and understanding complicated budgets.
I’ve had the opportunity to be appointed to a federal
commission dealing with students. I have been a part of
several boards here locally and advising different
government officials and elected leaders. I’ve worked with
the union and other businesses. That experience has helped
me in my professional and personal development. It has also
allowed me to see that issues are much more complex, but
they’re not as complicated when you have a serious network
of people who understand and trust you.
Perryman: Thank you.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at