Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Second Choice

Sometimes you write, and you reach your intended audience. Sometimes you don't.

Last Friday, the last time I wrote something longer than a tweet, I offered some background on the local zoning fight in the Newport Road area, and the vitriol that faux-environmentalists have launched at incumbent Janelle Rettig.

My key point in that whole discussion:
Is it fair to evaluate a candidate by the behavior of the supporters?  If the candidate accepts the support, repeats the mantra of the key code words, shares and retweets and says nothing when the supporters cross the line, they accept a share of the responsibility for the content.

How big a share? Does this make a vote for the candidate an endorsement of the supporters, the tactics, and the rhetoric?

Mike Carberry is a better person that the attacks his supporters are launching at Rettig. He's a strong enough candidate without those attacks. He's a big-picture enough environmentalist that he shouldn't need to depend on small picture messages from this small segment of his supporters. Sure, he can accept the votes. But it's time to reject the over the top rhetoric.
That section had an intended audience of one: the candidate. And I know he read it because he told me so.

I've noticed that most of the letters in support of Janelle Rettig have been about Janelle Rettig. And most of the letters for Mike Carberry have been about... Janelle Rettig. Carberry had been a little too willing to uncritically pass along some of the nastier attacks.

So my hope was that Mike would distance himself from some of the harsher attacks and focus on his own case. Unlike some of his narrow niche supporters , Mike is the real thing. Yet he's been too eager to embrace the vilification spewing from a tiny handful of self-interested neighbors.

Wednesday. there was another letter attacking Rettig from Laurie Tulchin, the single most adamant member of the narrow-interest Newport Roaders. It also took some cheap shots at former House candidate Dick Schwab and unsuccessful supervisor candidate Terry Dahms. There's a tacked-on conclusion urging a vote for Mike.

Mike had an opportunity to let this letter speak for itself without endorsing it by sharing it further. He didn't take that opportunity.
Friday I asked: "Is the most effective tool to denounce the tactics a vote for a different candidate? I don't want to vote against Mike Carberry. But I'd sure like to find a way to vote against some of his supporters."

Sure, Mike has some good supporters, and many are also supporting Janelle.

But I'm voting against Laurie Tulchin. And Jim Glasgow. And Jutta Rubright. And most of all Tom Carsner.

I'm voting for Lisa Green-Douglass.

I'm voting for Lisa on her own merits, not just to Vote Against. She brings a different perspective to the Board table, a different kind of experience: training, education and outreach. She's smart and deeply involved in the community. The party activists don't know her as well as they know Carberry, an immediate past party chair. Lisa took some time away from the partisan stuff when her children were young, but she's back now.

Lisa Green-Douglass knows all about urban sprawl. She used to live way out in the country, but fast-growing north Liberty - an area not represented on the board in a long time - is rapidly approaching her door. She was also brave enough not to kowtow to the single-interest Newport Road group when she met with them. (They appear set on wasting their second vote on no chance, no clue Diane Dunlap, who parroted a couple of their buzz words at her dismal debate performances.)

There's another thing here and maybe I shouldn't say this but I'll include myself:

Diversity matters. Other factors, skill and experience, can make up for it. But all other things being equal, men of my generation, of Pat Murphy's generation, us 50something straight white guys, need to think long and hard about setting aside our own personal ambition until the gender playing field is more level. That line of thought seems to bother Mike Carberry.

I'm a proud partisan. A "hack" I've been called a lot lately. (Still wondering in what possible universe I'm "the establishment.") It's a badge I wear with pride. Party hacks built FDR's America. I believe that political parties are a valuable institution of democracy. I've found them to be a meritocracy; if you have a skill set and are willing to work hard, you get taken seriously. And increasingly in our polarized age they MEAN something. The Democrats aren't perfect, but they definitely stand for something different than the Republicans and to argue otherwise just shows you aren't paying attention.

I also believe that when you buy into a primary process, as a candidate or as a voter, you buy into the outcome. There was one time I couldn't support the ticket, and the biggest regret of my adult political life is that I didn't resign my party post because of it. (But I didn't write editorials bashing the nominee I didn't support, either.)

If Mike Carberry is nominated, I'll gladly support him. But I expect the same from him and I expect him to get his supporters to do the same, for Lisa or Janelle or, should he lose, both. I expect the same from perennial candidate David Johnson in House 73 should he lose to Dennis Boedeker. The Republicans have the right to expect the same of their candidates.

That will be challenging for Carberry, probably too challenging. His willingness to embrace the worst of the rhetoric makes me wonder how hard he'll try - as long as HE holds those votes. The Newport Road mafia - where have I heard that word lately? -  has directly cost the Democrats two key elections. Dick Schwab and Terry Dahms should be running for re-election right now. I think they're willing to scuttle yet another race, and a divided local party in the most Democratic county in the state has statewide, even national implications.

So I think Lisa and Janelle, together, are the strongest possible ticket to work together to beat the one real anti-environmentalist in the race, the Republican.  And they're the strongest ticket to work together as supervisors the next four years.

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