Change Slate Controversy …

by on June 3, 2008

To the Editor:

I was very disturbed by Paul Hogarth’s column about the “Change Slate” doorhangers. While I agree that the doorhangers were slightly deceptive, Mr. Hogarth’s column totally fails to deal with more fundamental issues, which is typical of those who want to maintain the status quo. Additionally, the column contains two highly deceptive comments, one blatantly false, that are even more deceptive than the “Change Slate” about which the column complains.

The biggest problem here is that those with money and power, in this case the media in the form of the Bay Guardian, use that money and power to influence voters. Unfortunately, progressives who own media outlets never have the courage to support candidates who stand for the values that they supposedly support when those candidates are facing strong opposition. The Bay Guardian always supports more conservative candidates when it doesn’t think the progressive one has a strong chance to win. This is, of course, a self-fulfilling prophecy, because if even the Bay Guardian won’t support a progressive candidate, that candidate stands very little chance of winning, as the Bay Guardian influences many voters.

But people with money and power, even with small amounts like the owners of the Bay Guardian, are more conservative, so they prefer that a more conservative candidate wins than to risk a really conservative candidate winning, even though this position keeps the real progressive candidate from getting elected. So this becomes a rigged game, with real progressives standing little or no chance of winning any time there’s a substantial challenger. It is instead the Bay Guardian’s and BeyondChron’s constant endorsements of more conservative candidates, such as Mark Leno, that should be called into question here, not whether someone played a trick in what has always been a dirty game. Furthermore, Mr. Hogarth makes two highly deceptive claims.

First, Mr. Hogarth falsely claims that the Change Slate’s statement about whom the Bay Guardian endorsed was in “very fine print.” This is blatantly and obviously false, as one can even see from the picture in the column that the statement is easily readable. I was able to read it on our doorhanger without glasses and without straining my eyes, and I now need glasses for very fine print. Moreover, I was able to figure out what was going on within a minute, as I saw the Bay Guardian logo but knew it had endorsed Mark Leno. Voters who aren’t paying attention will always be tricked or otherwise fooled by someone, and if anyone was fooled by this, it is their own fault.

Second, Mr. Hogarth repeats what he admits is nothing but a rumor that Carole Migden wants Mark Leno to lose if she doesn’t win. As the most progressive candidate in this race, it is highly unlikely that this claim is true, and Mr. Hogarth cites no evidence for it. Spreading a vicious rumor that’s almost certainly a lie while complaining about a somewhat deceptive mailer is nothing short of pure hypocrisy.

I realize that Mr. Hogarth takes more conservative positions than I would like because he thinks doing so is more pragmatic. The problem with this attitude is that there’s no chance of ever getting any progressive change if people constantly elect lesser of evil candidates instead of progressives. What Mr. Hogarth’s column should have addressed is why people who own media outlets are allowed to have so much influence over elections, and why otherwise progressive media outlets always support more conservative candidates in the fear that someone even worse will be elected. Instead, Mr. Hogarth plays the same political game, which does nothing but support the status quo and therefore harms progressive causes.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

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