We can’t comment about Bryan Steil’s position on systemic racism because he apparently doesn’t have one.
He claims to not know what it is.
“I think this is one of those terms that sociologists at the academic level put forward, and I think that it’s a highly charged phrase where individuals try to leverage to move forward policy agendas,” Steil told The Gazette Editorial Board.
It’s that sort of disappointing political maneuvering and avoidance that leads us to endorse Steil’s opponent for the 1st Congressional District seat.
His challenger, Roger Polack, is easily the best candidate the Democrats have fielded in the 1st Congressional District in our memory.
Steil, a Republican, has held the seat since winning it in 2018.
When pressed, Steil said he’s focused on policies to make America better for everyone.
“I’ve heard multiple definitions of systemic racism. I do not believe the United States of America is a racist country. There are individuals that are racist,” he said.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson, by the way, has defined systemic racism as “systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage African Americans.”
Polack is a Racine native and UW-Madison graduate who worked in the U.S. Treasury Department in Southeast Asia to counter terrorism funding in coordination with the military and the CIA.
He believes systemic racism is real in America.
“There’s a greater disparity in health and security, greater disparity in wealth and greater disparity in education in the Black community, and part of that, I think, is due to the fact that there is a system in place that makes it more difficult for Black America to succeed and be productive citizens,” he said.
He favors federal legislation that would ban police from using chokeholds and amend use-of-force standards.
A concerning facet to Polack’s storyline is that he’s been working as an attorney in Washington, D.C., where, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, he has two homes, one valued at $1.3 million and a second with a value of $838,000. He and his family are renting a house in Racine County, qualifying him to run for a Wisconsin Congressional seat.
Although there’s little doubt Polack moved to Wisconsin to run for Congress, his roots are in Wisconsin. He is a Racine native and a UW-Madison graduate.
The candidates also differ in their views about how the federal government should combat the coronavirus.
Like all other Republicans we talked to, Steil is opposed to the federal government imposing universal coronavirus solutions and believes a federal mask mandate would violate people’s rights.
“A one-size-fits all approach to preventing the spread of coronavirus is not as effective as having a localized approach that makes sense on the ground in our home communities,” Steil said.
As we have said in other endorsement editorials, we disagree. We believe the state and the nation need a more unified approach to battle COVID-19.
Polack said he favors widely distributing a COVID-19 vaccine free of charge when one is ready.
“The model that was set up to do coronavirus testing—something similar should be set up to get vaccines to as many people as we possibly can and quickly as we possibly can,” Polack said.
Polack is qualified and gives straight answers. He gets our endorsement.