I know that the political campaigns can be dirty. Candidates say some pretty crazy things trying to garner favor. But these stories which I will share, feature some politicians that make pig pens look spotless.
A New York city council candidate said that "These Jewish landlords are using their ownership to engage in ethnic cleansing of black and Latino tenants." Another time he said, "Jewish landlords are the same as "builders of concentration camps."
In answer to these inflammatory remarks, it was said "Quite frankly, if he wants to run for City Council he should do so by petitioning his way onto the Ku Klux Klan party". As you can imagine, calls came from other same party political leaders in the region for the candidate to be dismissed from the party and removed from the ballot. He wasn't.
A nominee for an Illinois congressional seat raised more than eyebrows when it was discovered that the candidate was a former neo-Nazi, and current white supremacist. In an interview with CNN the candidate said, "Yes, I deny the Holocaust. If you did any honest investigation of the Holocaust you'd realize that it is nothing but an international extortion racket by the Jews to bleed, blackmail, extort and terrorize their enemies and to suck us into one war after another in the Mideast."
Completely incensed, this candidate's own party is paying for robot calls to area constituents asking voters to skip him on the ballot. Says, the party chairman in the area, "He is a Nazi whose disgusting, bigoted views have no place in our nation's discourse." His own party looked for frantic ways to remove him from the ballot, but alas it was not to be.
How in the world do we end up with candidates who are this crazy?
I intentionally have told you neither the party nor the name of the candidates because it is unimportant to the issue that we are looking at. One candidate is a Democrat and one candidate is a Republican. What we are examining today is extreme, anti-mainstream views and how in the world these people made their way on to a ballot to begin with.
I have heard and read multiple theories on how people with extremist views make it on to a ballot and would like to summarize the ideas that resonate the most with me.
First, in some cases extreme activists are the ones choosing our candidates. As both parties head for the outer poles of political thought, politically moderate or centrist candidates from either side are viewed as establishment and therefore undesirable.
Second, both parties are now magnets for candidates who are not vetted. As trust in the establishment of both parties decreases there is a call for outsider candidates. Watch some political commercials, increasingly you see candidates are running as "outsider" or saying openly "I'm not a politician."
Unfortunately in addition to being politically inexperienced , these candidates are often not rigorously interviewed about their belief systems. Some races have parties so determined to get any candidate on the ballot at all they do not bother to talk extensively with people willing to run. These candidates get through party preliminaries and on a ballot and then shock the heck out of us with ridiculous views.
Finally, being a candidate is expensive in 2018. So now, we are seeing some people crowned as appropriate when in actuality they simply have the funds (or funders) to maintain campaign costs. Parties get too focused on presenting an candidate who can carry their own weight and miss that the candidate may actually be inappropriate.
So why am I bringing this up? Colorado in general, and El Paso County is not exempt from this crazy candidate phenomenon. We have some candidates truly putting the capital C in crazy. Voters, we must closely examine all races and all candidates.
Check your own party's candidates. Look at their social media. Read their websites. Watch interviews that they conduct or are in. Go and research your party candidates in every race and make sure that their views match yours.
Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Stovall is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.