Same as the old boss?

One of the amazing stories from the 2008 Presidential campaign was the awakening of young people into our political environment and their willingness to get involved. And then the events in Madison just over a year ago again brought out young people in droves to protest around the Capitol. And with this election cycle we’ve seen a bumper crop of young people and new faces getting involved in local politics at any number of levels. This is fun and exciting stuff…and it should be new and clean and fresh…except when it isn’t. Under their aegis, during the past six months, we’ve see some of the same ugliness in politics that we’ve suffered during several recent election cycles. Sigh!

We’ve seen a young campaign manager acquire an internal document about dirt on an opponent and hand it off to a third party friend for dissemination.

We’ve seen a young party official pass off questionably acquired documents and leak them to a known antagonist media source.

We’ve then seen someone anonymously notify party officials and bloggers about the publication of the information.

We’ve seen young political activists then point fingers at one another.

We’ve heard of young campaign managers released because of purported campaign expense irregularities.

We’ve heard young candidates ask if we can find dirt on an opponent and publish it.

We see several local candidates have decided negative campaigns are to their advantage while insisting they are talking about the issues.

We’ve watched a good cop bad cop campaign where the candidate runs the high road and someone else from the campaign takes the low…and who will get there before ye?

We’ve listened while a young candidate has adopted ageism as a campaign strategy proclaiming that old people are out of touch with reality.

I am sure that if I thought about it a bit longer that their are more examples.

The promise of these new campaigns and these new entrants to our electoral process is the involvement of the citizenry, the grass roots, the desire to debate/discuss the issues, and the declaration to run clean and open campaigns.

When we accept candidates who are just more of the same, we short change ourselves. Don’t accept the mediocre just because it’s a new face or a new name. Let all of our candidates know that we deserve and demand better.

And my thanks to Emerge Wisconsin and DemTeam for working to educate new and inexperienced candidates so that they can start out with the knowledge and confidence to run clean and effective campaigns when they are ready to make their mark!


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1 thought on “Same as the old boss?

  1. Ed.
    Nice. Really – an original topic with personal reflections that I never expected to see in “print” and yet this same situation has deeply disturbed me. I’ll try (and no doubt fail) to be brief, not too personal (fail,part two) and yet I want to mention that behaviors of the type you mention “caused” (for lack of a better word) me to remove myself from virtually all activist type involvement. Disillusionment in one’s fellow human beings has a cumulative effect, you just run out of excuses, and you run out of self-pep-talks about how this or that person/event does not represent “all”. After a while it’s hard to deny the evidence and the prevalence. Back in 2004 I had a really memorable conversation with a much older woman who’d been in politics for many decades, she had a kind of haunted look as she mentioned how important it was for her to find “one honest man”. That was just a phrase she used in a larger context, I may not convey her meaning here properly but it was kind of like an intense need in one’s twilight years to see something that does not ultimately turn to shit. Just needing to know that someone some where exists who will stand rather than crawl, or slither.
    And tho’ it’s annoying and disheartening to see an “older” person who is ruthless and slimy, there’s something much more powerful in seeing a glow of pride in a young adult’s eyes for doing crap that no one should glow over. Who in hell looks at guys like Nixon and thinks “cool, I wanna be like him”. Apparently quite a lot of people.
    To use an old persons’ cultural reference – it’s like if everyone involved in figure-skating went all Tonya Harding, as if that became the new norm. (recap on the kneecap for those who don’t recall)
    Tonya Harding was a skating rival of Nancy Kerrigan, who, rather than work towards her own goals and athletic development, chose to club Kerrigan in the knee with a police baton before a competition. So that’s kind of it now, we’re not working towards perfecting those triple-toe loops and other nifty skating feats, the celebrated art form is now creative and inventive ways of clubbing the other guy in the knee.
    Having said that I also realize that knees have always been clubbed, old newspapers are full of inflammatory horrible attitudes, F-Bob LaFollette was almost poisoned by colleagues etc. But the difference is how open and celebrated it is now, how eagerly so many people run towards that, and how you just can NOT say “hey, let’s not do this”. If you do, you’re just old and clueless and irrelevant.
    But regardless of age, I am at a loss as to how anyone is supposed to accomplish your last 2 sentences there. Current political systems seem to be self-perpetuating, and tragically not every new trend can be reversed. Once the baby has been born there’s really no way of “putting it back”, and once the nuke has been invented there’s no longer any such thing as a non-nuclear future.

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