Very conservative local blogger and The Union columnist Russ Steele has a new post on his own website this morning asking, “Is liberalism a form of mental illness?” based on some of the reader comments following my blog post about Aaron Klein endorsing Barry Pruett. (More than 50 signed comments, to be exact).
He writes: “Reading these comments, I was once again prompted to start wondering yet again about the mental health of some of the folks who comment on (Jeff’s) blog.”
Russ, mind you, is the same guy whom The Union has chosen to write a monthly column as a “citizen journalist” and whom former Supervisor Sue Horne lists as a “community leader” on her election site for Assessor. Some leaders at the county Contractors Association also have told me that Russ is a good friend.
Presumably the supposedly “mentally ill” people here also are readers/customers of The Union; some might even support Sue or support contractors, so it’s a real slap in the face – again.
Here’s the response I left on Russ’ blog, where he asked “What do you think?” about his post:
“I think you are probably the worst thing that could happen to any effort to keep conservatism alive and well here. And I am continually amazed how people such as Sue Horne and others whom you endorse don’t call you out on it.
“The most offensive comment in the string on my blog post comes from Will Cunningham, who calls some of the posters ‘left wing nuts.’ If you read the comments, there are very few personal attacks – something that has become a hallmark of you and George Rebane. If I were a conservative, I’d drop you like a hot potato before it’s too late.”
As for the comments registered here, I was struck by this exchange:
COMMENT: “This conversation should be rewritten into a movie called ‘How to Fight 35 Left-Wing Nuts with Your Brain…and Win.’ I don’t know Aaron Klein. The only thing I question is why he wastes the time talking to people who can do nothing but parrot their liberal story lines. Are you people nuts? – Will Cunningham
RESPONSE: “Will, I am a liberal on some issues, a moderate and a conservative on others, I believe in the value of good governance, and I think civil discourse is important to making good decisions. I agree that you should look into the facts regarding the candidates to make your own decision. That’s what we all should do.
“Aaron has stated his reasons for making his choice, some of us agree, some of us disagree with the choice and the methods. You can do the same but omit the platitudes and labeling as though being a liberal or a moderate or a conservative was a bad or good thing. It’s just too easy to label people and what purpose does it serve.” – Bob Garza
This post by Pat Wynn on another blog item is worth considering when it comes to Russ’ response:
“Demographics in Nevada County are changing. Lists of registered voters available in the Elections Office show that the County, long considered red in political circles, is now considered ‘purple.’
“Old conservatives, and the conservative clique, exemplified in the list of Horne supporters, do not appear to be aware of that. And true, we still have a solid conservative slate on the BOS, though in the recent effort to privatize the library system, which seemed a sure thing when first proposed by the County Administrator (but bet your boots not without BOS support) we saw how much that means.
“As for Rebane and Steele, reading their unpaid columns in The Union and on-line comments, can’t help but wonder if they haven’t set themselves up as punching bags since most comments are quite unsympathetic. The Union, of course, loves controversy as it sells papers and keeps advertisers happy. So will they help or hurt Horne? Good point.”
I also would argue the county’s demographics are changing, hence the defensive “Are you mentally ill”? comments. As I’ve argued before, The Union is missing out on a business opportunity not to capture the changing demographics with a more inclusive editorial policy. I also think what worked in the past, name calling and personal attacks, won’t work now.
Once again, I’m reminded of Steve Frisch’s “A call for democracy in our towns,” which I believe accurately reflects what is going on here and in other Sierra communities. It is here.
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