There has been a considerable amount of commentary on District 8 in the last week, and so I’ll add a few words.
In my opinion, it is a very fortunate thing that 1) The campus press does not represent student opinion and 2) Students overwhelmingly don’t read the campus papers. Regarding the latter point, I’d point out that at not a single student door has anyone ever mentioned reading about me or this race in either the Cardinal or the Herald, and certainly not in any of the blogs.
I certainly have respect for many of the people who work at these organs (I used to write for the Herald myself, of course), but the fact remains they don’t have an impact on anything, and when the intended impact is to destroy progressive causes and candidates, I think that’s a good thing.
However, unfair and dishonest criticism can be very hard to take at times, I will be the first to admit, regardless of the electoral impact. Some of the commentary in the blogosphere regarding our candidacy has crossed the line into stalker-ish territory, and so some of this stuff can be very creepy to deal with. Which is why I usually don’t read it.
However, I’m not feeling sorry for myself; I have no excuse to. Talking with my friend Brenda Konkel and others, the plight of the progressive candidate in the student district is always a tumultuous one. Another friend of mine, Ashok Kumar, faced an even more intense hatred during his time representing students. This type of thing is to be expected, and so a progressive should not run in this district if he or she is not up to being regularly portrayed as the devil incarnate.
Earlier today, the Badger Herald endorsed my opponent, and this of course will be followed by the Cardinal in a few days. It occurs to me that every issue and cause I have been involved with during my time on this campus – anti-war activity, fairness on the SSFC, opposition to the ASM Constitution, progressive slates, progressive local political candidates, immigrant rights – has been vehemently opposed by the Herald and Cardinal. To have been endorsed by either of these papers would be an affront to everything I believe in and everything I have fought for (successfully or otherwise) during my long time on this campus. It would be the surest sign that I am doing something seriously wrong as an alder candidate.
(Side note: The Herald/Cardinal will rarely endorse a progressive, however. This happens when the progressive’s opponent is looked upon as so unqualified – ie a candidate who lies about several of their endorsements or is universally opposed by a district’s neighborhood associations – that supporting this opponent would be utterly embarrassing.)
I would say that we’ve dealt with it all, but I’m sure we can look forward to more fun articles and posts in the remaining days of this election. One would think that a paper’s decision to print THREE articles about a single (very honest) piece of campaign literature would top the absurdity chart, until one is told that this same paper hasn’t even printed a response piece from the campaign.
But again, this biased treatment was understood from the beginning. It’s the cost progressives have to pay for daring to prioritize issues of social justice, workers’ rights and causes not immediately relevant to the white male non-progressives who are almost singularly behind this commentary.
As this campaign comes to a close, the intensity of this hatred very much assures me that we are doing the right thing. Ours is the only candidacy which has expressed a determination to confront issues of poverty, racism and other forms of inequality if elected. Madison’s local government currently has only a few voices which even bring up the plight of those suffering in our community, and it’s very clear that my opponent will not be an additional one if elected.
Whether we win or lose, I am very proud of the fact that we have ran a principled and unabashedly progressive campaign. It will have been worth it either way.