Vol. 10    No. 25
DECEMBER 10, 2015
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                 Political Red Herrings
Editor’s Notes: I’ve had a couple of mistakes that I need to make note of in the past couple of issues.

The first is was with the cover story of our November 12th issue, “The Importance of Identity and Culture,” about American Indian students and
the issue of mascots and logos. When I was transcribing my interviews with the students, I spelled two of the tribal names phonetically. I wrote
“Navaho” instead of “Navajo,” the correct spelling. And I’m not sure how I got this, but I wrote Hickory Apache instead of Jicarilla Apache. It is
important to be accurate with the names of people, individually and collectively. I apologize for the error.

And in our November 26, 2015 issue, with the “Experience Where It Counts” cover story on Everett Mitchell running to be elected a Dane
County judge, while the story referred the reader to Page 8 for the continuation of the story, the story that was continued on Page 8 was actually
Yolanda Salazar’s. The continuation of Everett Mitchell’s story was actually on Page 5 where Yolanda Salazar’s was supposed to be. When we
were forced to upgrade our software after a major computer blow-out, I found that newer software isn’t necessarily better than the one that
came before it. I switched the jump boxes of the Mitchell and Salazar stories and the pointers to the continuation did not automatically update
as they would with the older version. I apologize for the confusion.

Speaking of Everett Mitchell, a curious article appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal by Chris Rickert on December 8. It was titled “Everett
Mitchell would be intriguing, if politically unlikely, candidate for Legislature.” I thought this was somewhat funny because Everett Mitchell is
running for Dane County Circuit Court Judge. Why would a newspaper endorse a candidate for an elective office that he isn’t even running for?

It appears that Rickert doesn’t feel that Mitchell has enough experience for the job — he points to the over 20 years of practicing law that
candidates for two other Dane County judgeships have — and was recommending Mitchell for a position that Mitchell has no desire to fill and
probably no chance of winning.

In the article, Rickert also calls Mitchell a leader of the Young Gifted & Black Coalition. That’s pretty strange and I am sure that it was news to
Brandi Grayson, Matt Braunginn, M Adams and the other leaders of Young Gifted & Black whom I am aware of. This was very strange indeed.
But then again, it wasn’t strange at all. Rickert is probably a good Euro-American columnist who would probably feel guilt or uneasiness in
stating that he did not support Mitchell’s candidacy because of Mitchell’s “lack of experience.”

And so, instead of coming right out in opposing Mitchell’s candidacy, he did the next best thing: set up a red herring to give voters a way out in
voting against Mitchell perhaps because of his race. How often do we see political commentators on the local scene recommending a
candidate for a different office entirely? There aren’t any instances that readily come to mind.

Isn’t that insulting and just a little patronizing? “You’re not qualified for this position, so I will recommend you for something you will never
achieve.” For some reason, it reminds of Ralph Ellison’s “The Invisible Man.”

I have another problem with this. Now American politics has been heavily influenced by race-baiting since 1968 when Richard Nixon
implemented his Southern Strategy to lure away white southern voters away from the Democratic Party by tinting the political discourse with
code words that meant African American.

Now why would Rickert say that Mitchell was a leader of Young Gifted & Black when he wasn’t? Why is that even germane to the discussion of
whether or not Mitchell should be a Dane County judge? Ah, but this is an election that involves all of Dane County. And if there are any voters
who harbor any conscious or unconscious biases, would the image of the protests of the officer-involved shooting of Tony Robinson come into
play, associating Mitchell that broke the law as a form of civil disobedience? Is this a way for Rickert to imply that Mitchell wasn’t qualified
because he was leading a “lawless” group of young African Americans? If this isn’t race-baiting, I don’t know what is and Rickert should be
ashamed of himself for introducing this into local politics.

And what’s up with this experience thing that you have to have been a “practicing” attorney for over 20 years in order to be qualified? Where
does it say that one must have a certain amount of experience to run for elective office?

Back in the day — and probably now — the whole thing about the person with the longest length of experience getting the job was used to keep
African Americans and other people of color out of positions or once they obtained employment, to keep them from advancing within the
company or organization. There was always one Euro-American who had more years of experience and they got the job. And when it was an
African American who had the most experience, then another criteria was cited for why the position went to a Euro-American. Sometimes that
connection was political connections. But it didn’t necessarily correlate to how well the person would do the job.

Mitchell may have only worked at the DA’s Office for two years, but he has been involved in criminal justice issues for 12 or more years. Let
the people of Dane County decide how competent Mitchell is through community forums and not through the punditry of a columnist who doesn’t
have his facts right.