A good friend (and strong supporter of my candidacy for the council seat in Cleveland’s 7th Ward) was perturbed by a conversation he recently had with an acquaintance. When my candidacy came up in conversation, the woman said that I “rubbed people the wrong way” (with my writings, I guess) and assurances had been given to her that someone “high up” in the Democratic hierarchy was moving to assure that I would not win the seat.
Explaining to my friend that I was not the least bit concerned, I further said “rubbing people the wrong way” is how I earn my daily bread — that’s what I do for a living. Not that I set out to piss people off when I express my opinion in an article mind you. But I’m damn sure not going out of my way to try to spare anyone’s feelings or make people like me either. Indeed, if I didn’t — to at least to some degree — anger folks who disagree with me, I’m probably not properly doing my job, now am I?
Once I threw my hat into the ring for the council seat I had to look myself squarely in the mirror (as I have done a few times in the past) and ask myself, “Can you do this?” Can I remain true to my calling and profession as a journalist, or will I begin avoiding hot topics, or, just as importantly, will I begin toning down my arguments in fear of losing votes?
Each time I’ve asked myself that question over the years the answer has been the same: “Yes. Yes, I’m going to stay true to the dictates of my conscience. And if someone doesn’t like something that I’ve written, then oh, well.” Or, more succinctly, tough shit.
Was the woman right? Will some folks refuse to vote for me because of something that I’ve written, some position I’ve taken, or some cause I’ve championed over the years? Of course they will hold it against me. But the way I see it is that I’m going to attract more people to support my candidacy with my version of the truth than I’m going to repel, and that, in the end, my work will prove to be a net gain for me.
But the real fact is, I’m not writing anything in hopes that someone will find favor with it and vote for me because of it. That would be pandering for votes, and I’m not going to do that. What I’ve been able to do is, to compartmentalize; when I sit down at my computer to write I leave that other guy, the candidate, that other “me”, out on the campaign trail.
Of course what I’ve written over the last 20+ years is bound to have an impact on my run for office. This is how people have gotten to know me, by my work. And evidently quite a few of them like what they’ve come to know.
To wit: In the space of three days I’ve won the endorsements of the Northshore AFL-CIO, the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, and AFSCME Ohio Council 8 and Retirees Council 1184. I have to think that the members of these organizations support my candidacy because I rubbed them the “right way” with my writing over the years.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com.