- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
"I'm So Bored of Michael Nutter," and Other Popular Sentiments
I think that the internet is probably kind of a scary place for people plugged into the mayoral race right now - I can't imagine what it would be like to make a decision based on the conversations that are happening here and elsewhere. You have the weirdly unsupported triumphalist screeds of Brady fans, and the continued mockery and boasting of the Doc/Knox 98 guys - whose genre might be described as "Fuck you, preppies." (Fair enough.) You have a mind-blowing array of racial code words (and sometimes not-so-code words) passing back and forth between Nutter and Fattah supporters. Ugh. Just, ugh.
And then there's an army of Nutterites, roving around the Web like the living dead trying to get into people's brains. They are immune to self-doubt, fanatical in their Nutter-glorifying, and harshly dismissive of anyone else's personal choices. In case there's been any doubt about it, let's spell it out: PEOPLE WHO LIKE THEIR COMPUTERS ALSO LIKE MICHAEL NUTTER. This is obviously a generalization, but it seems to be based on overwhelming evidence. The level of inspiration and devotion Michael has drawn, combined with the somewhat ungenteel practices of arguing on the internet, has rarely been pretty, and it's sometimes been downright stomach-turning. Not to mention tiresome. And yes, a lot of these people are privileged white people - totally beyond any argument about what "privilege" might mean as far as race and class go.
The thing is: that's not what the campaign itself is like. You'd expect to look into the office and see 87 29-year-old Caucasian dudes with facial scruff and glasses. It's not: it's a really remarkable array of ages, genders, and races, surprisingly representative of the demographic cocktail that seems to be about to vote for Nutter. Without any established GOTV organization or union endorsements, Michael's relying totally on volunteers (and over 4,000 small contributions) to make this thing happen, and the turnout's been really good thus far. The primary motivating factor doesn't seem to be any of the more sophisticated policy points that have been made about policing or taxes in this forum over the last few weeks. I think the prevailing sentiment is a desire for a mayor who will just. Do. SOMETHING. After years of feeling like they aren't plugged in to the network of back-scratching (and -stabbing) that characterizes Philly politics, the campaign gives them a chance to feel involved and proactive, and like they can be a positive force to get great things accomplished.
Most of the media endorsements thus far have leaned on Nutter's style - both in terms of management and on the campaign trail - over his policies. More on that in a minute. For the moment, isn't it weird that this unassuming bespectacled man has acquired so much momentum in this race? The fact that Nutter's a small-case politician - not a backslapping insider, or an outsize personality, or a dynamite public speaker (or, failing that, a multimillionaire) - has really worked in his favor. He's not cut from the same cloth as Rendell, or Brady, or Fattah. People see him as their dad, or their accountant, or whatever slightly awkward guy that they implicitly trust. I know it's become a cliche at this point, but he does really listen to people. Folks have probably seem him out talking to people on the street as much as they've seen him on TV by now. And while he's not quite an A+, his reform credentials are remarkably solid for a guy who has managed to get things done while on council. None of the other candidates can quite pull that off.
And yes, I'm surprised as any to find myself volunteering my time for a tax-cutting stop-and-frisker. My history largely intersects with left-wing lost-cause candidates - I went for Bradley in '00 and Dean in '04, to name a couple. I DO find stop-and-frisk troubling, although I think conflating the problems associated with stop-and-frisk with racial profiling is a categorical mistake. I think as a limited means of immediately quelling violence in the worst-off neighborhoods, it holds some promise; as noted elsewhere, Fattah seems to think the same thing. Nutter said today that if the tactic doesn't work, he'll switch tactics, which gives me hope. I also know that Nutter has a history of being reponsive to police excesses, as one of the leading forces behingd the police advisory commission, which gives me hope as well. There are certainly other, more "progressive" elements to Nutter's crime plan, including some good material dealing with ex-offenders and healing the psychological wounds of neighborhood violence.
I am entirely sold on the limited tax cuts that Nutter proposes as a means of attracting businesses to the city. I am excited for Stan to tell me that I am wrong and that Nutter has a hidden agenda to drown the city government in a bathtub. I think Nutter's really good on education, and I'm moved by his anger about what's happened to the Philadelphia School District.
My confession is that I started working for this campaign because Nutter enabled me to take my girlfriend out for a drink every once in a while; she moved here from NYC, and the smoke was killing her. Let's hear it for altruism and broad-based concerns! Before, I basically thought local politics here were confusing and dirty and weird - now, I still think all of those things, but I have some hope that they will be less so in the future, because I've gradually learned more and more about the city's political history and the potential for change encapsuled in this campaign.
Did I write another irritating Nutter testimonial? Crap. Well, as compensation for reading this far, here is a picture of an adorable four-legged duck. Best of luck to everybody during this crazy weekend.