Note to self: never take serious advice from a figurehead who led a predestined non-factor candidate to run and lose for office.
This week, Mustafa Rashed, former campaign manager of failed Democrat Doug Oliver’s mayoral campaign, wrote a misguided piece in Philly Mag’s Citified section attempting to provide a solution to those who are “tired of Philly politics as usual” by telling them to “quit complaining and run for office.”
The lazy and unoriginal rhetoric reads like a talking points memo from a high school graduation pep-talk of a politico who’s trying to silence the hysteria of a community that knows better.
Rashed’s mantra of to “succeed in the game, you have to be in the game” is inspirational if you’re trying to win a basketball game – but it's not how Philly politics actually work.
For one, “complaining” is democratic and can effectively scare politicians into truly giving a damn about what they’re elected to do. This is necessary given that City Council and the Mayor’s office are often tone-deaf to the priorities of their constituents. Some argue that complaining creates apathy, but it’s one strong way of ensuring political accountability.
Furthermore, encouraging more people to run for office as a way to rebuttal the “Philly politics as usual” is myopic in thought and a flat contradiction. Why waste millions of dollars that could go into improving public services for candidates who won’t win whether they are worthy or not?
If you know “Philly politics,” then you know that those who come into such races with the hope of winning on the platform of dismantling the current Democratic political machine have two options – either compromise to win or lose valiantly. Ask Isaiah Thomas or Tracey Gordon what the latter feels like.
The current names being thrown around as potential candidates for various offices – Kellan White, Abu Edwards, and Francis Nelms – have already had their fair share of local Democratic Party connection and support.
How will these relationships actually do anything to dismantle the current political machine within “Philly politics” – if that’s exactly what it’s going to take to elect them in the first place?
You can’t bite the hand that feeds you – that’s Philly politics.
So how do you actually restore hope? Answer: clean out the cobwebs that are currently ineffective in Philly’s Democratic Party and restore ethical voter leadership.
The Philly Democratic Party by-laws are undemocratic and in need of a revision given that the special election politics has now created a biased handpicking of party favorites over a more fair process.
Furthermore, City Commissioner Chairman Anthony Clark (the elected official whose getting paid $130,000 a year to increase voter turn-out and don’t vote himself) is under investigation by several watchdog groups, such as the Committee of Seventy, for his ineffectiveness.
More politicians should call for his resignation given that his inability to consistently show up to work is hurting Philadelphians’ ability to be properly equipped to vote.
This is how Philadelphians can actually change the system to ensure that better candidates can run and win. That’s how complaining can bring about change.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Metro US.