Guest Opinion: Mark Wallach: Stop the madness
Excerpts presented below, read the full article in the Daily Camera
This is my second campaign for a seat on the Boulder City Council, and it is vastly different from the first. The extent of the vitriol, the behaviors of some individuals in their efforts to disparage and tear down specific candidates, and the execrable level of our public discourse, particularly on social media platforms, should be a source of great concern to all of us. ...
The examples seem to be coming from every direction. Let’s start with the treatment of one of this year’s candidates for the Boulder City Council, Steve Rosenblum. Rosenblum has been subject to attack by anonymous parties who have reportedly created false websites containing false information in order to derail his campaign. (“Boulder City Council candidate sends cease and desist letter to community members, Daily Camera, Sept. 15.) In response, Rosenblum has threatened to sue via cease-and-desist letters against the alleged perpetrators of these falsehoods. Let’s be clear: this has nothing to do with whether one approves or disapproves of this particular candidate or his positions. Don’t like a candidate? State your case, organize around your principles and vote your convictions. That is how it is supposed to be done.
Whether or not these particular defendants are ultimately found accountable for this behavior is also not the point. What is undeniable is that someone did this. But how is this behavior any different from Russian interference in elections? How can the perpetrator of these false websites and posts actually believe that their conduct is appropriate in the context of a democratic process? How does anyone justify unethical, inappropriate and possibly illegal conduct simply to impact a local election in Boulder? It is despicable.
Moving on: In 2019 all candidates signed a non-disparagement pledge committing them to conduct themselves in a manner devoid of personalized attacks. Understand that this was not a pledge not to disagree or not to criticize, or not to be strong in that disagreement or criticism. It was simply a pledge to conduct our campaigns in a manner that this community could be proud of. And it worked, as that campaign was civil and issues-based, despite our differences on the issues. Yet an attempt this year to repeat this pledge, sponsored by both Plan Boulder and Better Boulder — and who would have expected that? — has failed. Not all candidates will sign and the pledge has been withdrawn. Reserving the right to be personally abusive? Sorry, I don’t care what the purported rationale for that is, it is just sad.
A wise individual once commented to me that, given the passion of Boulder’s residents, the debates are not so much “I am right and you are wrong,” but “I am right and you are evil.” ...
... we need to speak to one another, and about one another, with a greater degree of humanity, and humility, and in a manner that is a reflection of Boulder’s true values. I do not believe that the current state of our discourse accurately represents those values, and I hope that you feel the same way. We need to do better.
Read the full article in the Daily Camera