We Will All Win, Eventually
by Chris Bowers, Tue May 16, 2006 at 09:51:18 PM EDT
I need to produce a full write-up of what was an absolutely extraordinary day for me, but that will wait until tomorrow. First, I want to say something about those candidates who were less fortunate tonight.
Tony Payton Jr. will win handily tonight. Here is a simple lesson for all Democratic establishments everywhere: challenge insurgents at your own risk. Challenge the ballot status of insurgents, and become challenged yourselves. You tried to kick Tony off the ballot, and so he responded by challenging the ballot status of the party-backed candidate. In the end, he stayed on the ballot, and you were kicked off, even though you instigated the challenge. Now, he will serve in the Pennsylvania state legislature. From now until the ending of the world, every Democratic insurgent should follow Tony's example. If you are pushed by the Democratic establishment, push back with equal force. Any ballot challenge to a reformer should be met with a ballot challenge to the establishment. Victory can unexpectedly result.
Let this also be a lesson to any Democratic establishment that does not care about making every vote count. At around 8:30 am today, I was ready to declare massive voter fraud in my campaign, because both of the machines in my district were not allowing write-in votes. Worried that darker forces had tried to keep Kevin and I from taking office by screwing with our machines, I spent much of the morning on the phone with the board of elections and with committee people in other divisions (precincts) in our ward. Eventually, it became apparent to me that the voting machine problems I was experiencing were not he result of foul play, but instead the result of an apathetic and incompetent election system in Philadelphia that really did not give a rat's ass whether. everyone had the right to vote or not. You machine is busted? Take a number. Only part of your machine is busted? Well, then we will never get to you. You reported these same problems last year? Well, we didn't do anything about them. You think this is causing disenfranchisement? Who cares. You represent a massive new media force than can expose our incompetence and general apathy? Yes, sir, we will fix your machines right away sir. Please don't blog about this sir.
The funny thing is, of course, is that this general apathy toward trying to revamp the electoral system, combined with the attempt to remove Tony from the ballot, further guaranteed the establishment defeat in the 179th district. Fist, they tried to force a challenger off the ballot, and instead found themselves off the ballot. Then. Their own incompetence in running an equitable electoral system guaranteed that they write-in campaign they attempted against Tony would fail. They screwed up the filing process and the voting process, and now defeat in the 179th is the price they will pay. Hopefully, all challengers to hollow shells of Democratic machines across the nation will respond in in Tony Payton style fashion.
Let me also say something about Chuck Pennacchio. Were it not for mavericks such as Chuck Pennacchio willing to take on long-shot campaigns, it is difficult to imagine that nearly as many new committee people would be ready to take office for Democrats tomorrow. I know I wouldn't. Were it not for people such as Chuck who are clearly unafraid to stand for what they believe in, and who are so clearly unafraid to run ground-based, grassroots campaigns, I doubt that even half of the new committee people in Philadelphia would be taking office tomorrow. Instead, the Democratic activists of Philadelphia would simply become even older and more resistant to change.
Let me also say something about Valerie McDonald Roberts, who won my ward with 67% of the vote. Always, do the right thing instead of the popular thing. Yes, the party can still stop you, but only when the same media that endorses you does not bother to cover local politics to any serious degree. The media remains a gatekeeper, but even the media is not enough. Also,\even with the endorsement of every major newspaper and blog, the party still won out easily. If the party believes it can defeat the media, and if the media believes it can do what it right by the electorate, then both groups are right. Neither source of power has to suck up to one another. Do the right thing, and you will be rewarded. Papers do not have to settle for machine candidates, and the party does not have to do what the media demands. Lapdogs benefit no one, if they are establishment media or establishment political party.
And let me close by saying this: we will all win, eventually. With few exceptions, all of the challengers who ran against the party establishment today will prove victorious in the long run. While victories such as mine were rare, all of the progressive and reform defeats will eventually succeed as long as the people who participated in those losses keep trying. If there is one thing the establishment is not prepared for, it is a dedicated group of people who will keep trying to win even after temporary setbacks. Even if our victories are few, our victories will keep multiplying as long as we keep running. Hell, that is probably how the establishment came to power in the first place. As soon as it is clear that you will win sometimes, and that you will not be deterred even when you do not win, eventually those in power have no choice but to accept that you have a role in determining the future of the party. Give up easily, and be defeated easily. Never give up, and eventually you will govern.