Rumors had been kicking around for several days that Hillary Clinton would be coming to town on the day before, or the day of, Border Interfaith’s Issues Forum with candidates for County Sheriff and State House District 78. As it turns out, she’ll be here on the night of the forum, speaking at a free rally at the Don Haskins center at the very same time.
While our event was on the calendar first, I know that coordinating the travel schedule of a presidential candidate is a great challenge, and I’m sure that the local planners weren’t given any choice about the time or format. I also understand the conflict our confirmed candidates (those running in the Democratic primary) might feel as they weigh their need to be at the largest party gathering of this election season. I hope they choose to honor their commitment to be with us on Tuesday; I won’t be surprised, or terribly angry, if some don’t. [Update: as of 3 pm on Monday, most of the candidates had reconfirmed their intention to be with us on Tuesday night, and the event is on.]
Mostly, I’m just sad about the fact that real politics is getting stepped on by a poor substitute: the electioneering/marketing efforts in what our Ernesto Cortes calls our “quadrennial electronic plebiscite.” We will undoubtedly have fewer people in attendance on Tuesday night, with some choosing instead to catch a glimpse of Senator Clinton.
It is worth thinking about what is gained, and what is lost, in that substitution…
- Our event, months in the planning, is to be a chance for regular El Pasoans to get close to other regular El Pasoans, to share our stories with the candidates and to hear where they stand on issues that matter to us. The planning process, and the event itself, are real politics in the way we use the word in the world of community organizing. By contrast, the rally at the Don is an extravagant photo op.
- While I’m sure that Senator Clinton’s supporters will walk away feeling energized by the size of the crowd and the passion of the speakers, I also know that the regular El Pasoans from all walks of life whose institutions comprise Border Interfaith can find even more energy and passion (though without the campaign buttons, posters, or theme songs) in the stories of their neighbors.
- And finally, at Border Interfaith’s Issues Forum it is quite likely that we’ll learn things about the candidates that we didn’t know before. We might even make up our minds, or change them! At the Don, minds will not likely be changed or made up based on what the candidate says (for the third or fourth time that day!).
I hasten to add that I would feel the same, and would write the same post, were the candidate in town Senator Obama, Senator McCain, or Governor Huckabee. This isn’t about a particular candidate, but about two very different ways of doing politics.
I am look forward to a great and successful event on Tuesday, February 12, at the Temple.