My excuse for writing this post is I feel compelled. Compelled to set the record straight. Of course, this is probably why I’ve written 90% of my blog posts over the years; it really is too bad that a handful of people, lacking legitimate arguments and facts, have to resort to falsification and distortion.
Jack Craver, with all due to respect to the guy, seems to do this a lot – especially when writing about PD and other people and groups associated with the left. In particular, it’s as clear as day he doesn’t like me personally. Which is fine and all, but someone needs to tell him: It’s getting rather old. I’m really sorry I harshly criticized his best friend and former Herald Editor two years ago for writing obscene things about rape and race relations, but even this person under discussion seems to have gotten over it. How long can one hold a grudge? But more importantly, how professional is it (I take it Jack considers himself at least something of a professional) to air this laundry every time he writes a post about me?
He’s called me “crazy,” a “malcontent,” “inflammatory,” “hopeless” – and used a buffet of other pejoratives to describe me. And recently, a friend and supporter of mine, in the hopes of convincing Scott McDonnell of doing joint lit-drops on campus with my campaign – which mostly would have been to the benefit of Scott and not myself; I want Scott to beat the conservatives in the race – started a conversation (over cards) about what he believed the Executive candidate would agree with in my political history. From what I was told, he was interrupted by Jack, who was also there, and Scott was then informed that I am mentally deranged and perhaps psychotic. According to this friend, this interruption struck more than one person in the room as downright bizarre.
So, here’s my suggestion to Jack. People know you don’t like me, so rather than continuing to lose credibility through exaggeration and (as I’ll explain below) deception, why not just vent your hatred over some beers with some of my anonymous online detractors?
Because here’s another point worth mentioning. The number of people utterly shocked to meet me in person after having only been exposed to what’s been written about me online is – well, the number I’ve met who fit this description is not small. Truthfully, I can’t really blame people for thinking bad things of me having only read pieces like those written on The Sconz. These aren’t nice things! I’ve grown thick skin over the years and, fortunately, I know this type of thing isn’t relevant to election results. But it’s worth pointing out that, upon meeting me in person, people tend not to dislike me. This is why I’m usually pretty adamant about meeting fellow politicos for coffee and reaching out to them in person to avoid (always unnecessary) bad personal feelings in the midst of political disagreements. I’m actually a pretty nice guy, as my parents will tell you. In fact, I can’t think of a single seriously adversarial relationship I have with any human being who I haven’t met through the local political scene.
Anyway, the real reason I want to respond to Jack’s post is because, due to its untruthfulness, he seriously distorts what happened at the recent DPDC meeting and ends up smearing progressive Democrats – both PD and non-PD alike – as a result.
There’s [sic] no better place to see sheer human drama on display than a meeting of the Dane County Democrats, especially ones in which members vote on endorsements in local elections. The conflict often centers on the participation of Progressive Dane members, many of whom show up only to vote in the endorsement — and often against the wishes of the Dem Party leadership.
Ummm, yea – talk about distortion. I’ll assume from this last sentence that 1) Jack is not and never has been a member of the Democratic Party and 2) He is not and has never been at a DPDC meeting. This line about about PD as “interlopers” in the DPDC is so tired; I thought it had been retired by now. Apparently not. Presumably, Jack made this claim from having been an avid Critical Badger reader back in the day, not knowing that it has been entirely disproven.
A few points to this end. First, people can be members of both parties! Wouldn’t it make sense that people involved in an exclusively local organization like Progressive Dane might also want to attach themselves to a party with statewide and national relevancy like the Democratic Party? Why is this so wrong? Historically, PD members have have served in the leadership of the DPDC, worked on Democratic campaigns and served as DPDC-endorsed locally elected officials. In other words, there is no reason why there should be any hard feelings between the two parties. The truth is that the anti-PD line is simply a way for the right-wing of the DPDC to maintain control of the leadership, keep the party from involving itself in progressive activism and maintain its cozy place in the city’s establishment. This is why you will never hear prominent progressive DPDC members like Lindsey Lee or Russell Wallace use PD as a bogeyman. Whether Jack knows it or not, in writing posts like these he does a great job of promoting the Wayne Bigelow faction of the local Democratic Party.
What’s more, the vast majority of the people at last Wednesday’s meeting were non-PD people who rarely attend party meetings and showed up on that particular night to vote for the (non-PD) candidate of their choice. Assuming that showing up only to vote for endorsements is a bad thing (as Jack implies), why don’t they garner any criticism? In truth, everyone knows that these endorsement meetings turn out large numbers of people (probably about 125 at last week’s) because candidates try to get supporters there. If you go to July DPDC meeting, you’ll find about 15 people in attendance.
Neither Sam nor TJ realistically expected to get the endorsement after having been excluded from the interview process in virtue of their PD membership – and their opponents’ “recommended” for support as a result. They came mostly to say their piece as DPDC members and in hopes of garnering support from individual progressive Dems at the meeting (in this latter respect, I know both were successful). It was very distasteful to watch the hour-long verbal harassment of Sam during the D2 discussion by the right-wingers in the room; they did no favors in recruiting young people, issue-based organizers or those with a propensity for self-criticism to the party. I was also disappointed to watch the party-first mentality during the D13 debate. Apparently, enough people agree with Sue Ellingson that “Nothing is more important than the party” – including issues, values and the people she’s intending to represent. Most unconscionable though, was having to sit through the unfathomably grotesque treatment of Brian Solomon, the details of which I will never discuss on this blog. He is an amazing alder and incredibly decent human being.
Regarding my endorsement. I’m sorry it wasn’t controversial enough for Jack, but then there was no reason why it should have been anything but formulaic. The bylaws of the party state that a 2/3 suspension of the rules is required to make an endorsement before primaries in which there are at least two DPDC members in good standing, as is the case in D8. So, I got up to briefly introduce myself and stated all of the following: I’ve been a party member for a number of years, actively worked on a number of Dem campaigns going all the way back to my middle school involvement on the Gore campaign trail, most of my political work has been not through the party but fighting on issues party members support (like environmental causes, immigrant rights, labor advocacy, etc) and so I don’t see why the rule should be suspended in this case.
After I spoke, two or three other people talked right after me, all in support of what I had just said. It’s worth pointing out that I knew none of these people personally, nor were any of them PD members. The logic of my argument was just so simple yet irrefutable. It’s true, after all, that I haven’t been involved as an insider DPDC member, but then neither has my opponent.
It appeared that, without opposition to my candidacy, the debate was about to go to a vote, but then Molly Rivera of the College Democrats got up and spoke, which she certainly had every right to do. I definitely respect what she said and, as a friend and political ally of Scott’s, it was entirely reasonable. Ultimately, her remarks failed to convince people or garner a larger discussion not because she was inarticulate or ill-spoken (she was neither) but mainly because she didn’t have much of a case to make. She basically had to prove that I was somehow unworthy of seeking the DPDC endorsement; in absence of downright lies, I don’t know how this could have been accomplished. As a result, all she could say was Scott and I aren’t the same candidate (true), the 4 or 5 College Dems in the room are supporting Scott (presumably true) and that I had opposed the College Dems for as long as she could remember (I’m not really sure what she meant by this, since I don’t recall ever doing anything in opposition to an action or campaign the group was involved in, nor am I aware of specific actions or campaigns I could have opposed. It’s possible she was referring to Bryon Eagon’s candidacy two years ago, but then I did write an article in the Herald endorsing him after the primary.)
The attempted suspension got nowhere near the 2/3 needed.
It’s also true that I have criticized “prominent Democrats,” although I’m not really sure what it mean to “throw allegations” at them, as Jack states I have done. Either way, if the DPDC was a Stalinist, ideologically rigid party which didn’t tolerate internal criticism then Jack would be right: My candidacy should and would have been immediately disqualified from an endorsement. I’ve never claimed to be a “good party man” -either to the DPDC, or PD for that matter. I’m a progressive first and foremost, and my ultimate allegiance is to my values and the issues I support.
I’m sure this post will do me no favors in garnering favor with certain members of the DPDC, and that’s fine. I hope those of you who got through the entirety of this post (sorry about the length) found some useful information in it. Again, I feel it needed to be said.