Sunday, November 3, 2013

Candidate bashing won't get Democrats anywhere

Debate is good, but opposition based on false premises and biases leads to more problems

The finer points:
  • Candidates deserve scrutiny, no matter who they are.
  • But candidate bashing without context won't net a positive impact.
  • Weighing the benefits/imperfections of a candidate is worth pursuing; but "put-downs" will only serve the interests of opponents to progressive ideals.

For the past few weeks, I’ve witnessed several sites and other media outlets taking part in criticisms against Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke. And most of them have come from a strange source: the progressive wing of the Democratic Party itself, who worry about Burke’s credentials as a liberal.

These criticisms have perplexed me, and I have often engaged those who have made such statements to explain themselves a bit more.

I won’t go into the details, of who said what and so forth -- it doesn’t really matter. It’s wrong to expect everyone to accept Burke as the de facto nominee, and I’ve never demanded that of anyone in these conversations.

If someone has a problem with her, they should bring it up, and be able to rationalize themselves in a way that produces a logical argument for opposing her.

And at times, individuals have brought up good points that some could justly be critical of. No candidate will ever be perfect, and we shouldn’t expect that of Burke or anyone else, but these issues are necessary to address nonetheless.

Bringing up these issues allows us to have an internal debate, and to rationalize whether Burke’s imperfections are worth digging into deeper, or whether they can be overlooked.

But at other times, I’ve seen downright bashing of Burke, of comments whose sole purpose were only to blatantly downgrade her as a negligible candidate, with hopes that another, more progressive option would be taking her place.

I worry over such commentary. Democrats are, after all, looking for a candidate who is for environmental safeguards, for promoting public education, for defending a woman’s health decisions and access to care, for electoral and redistricting reform, and for advancing the conditions of the working class in Wisconsin.

These ideals exemplify what the candidacy of Mary Burke is about. On all of these issues, and more, Burke has stated her beliefs -- and they are squarely on the progressive side of things.

Some have concerns over Burke's desire to be cooperative, to listen to the other sides of arguments, and to make "no promises" when it comes to the campaign itself. Nobody is "wrong" for bringing these issues to light.

Yet to degrade Mary Burke over other aspects of her campaign (whether they are non-issues or imaginary beliefs that the candidate holds) creates more problems for ourselves -- and only serves the interests of our opponents.

A rational debate over Burke’s credentials is necessary. We wouldn’t be doing any good for ourselves or for the state of Wisconsin if we allowed ourselves to blindly accept any candidate without first questioning him or her.

Some of the commentary about Burke is belittling, distasteful, and hurtful towards our goals. A discussion, as I’ve already stated, is fine -- but creating a discourse out of commentaries that serve only to bring a candidate down, through unfair comparisons or straw-man arguments, won’t help create a better candidate, whether it is Burke or somebody else.

Let’s have debates, argue on the merits of the candidates’ stances, and even get mad at one another from time-to-time. Let’s also remember: we don’t move forward through unnecessary bashing of any potential nominee. Mary Burke deserves both our scrutiny and our respect, as does any other candidate considering a run for governor on the Democratic ticket.


  1. "...Burke has stated her beliefs -- and they are squarely on the progressive side of things."

    While it's arguable that she even stated the things you say she has, the fact is Burke's own behaviors have contradicted her statements. I'll believe what she has done to be more reflective of the reality than her words. And her actions are not acceptable.

  2. "And her actions are not acceptable." So Capper does that mean you'll stay home if she's the nominee? If it means you'll work for someone else in the primary then fine. But if you do stay home then the four more years of Scooter are on you just as much as they're on the pistol packin' bible thumpers trying to run this country into the ground.