Is there any common ground here?
Here are a couple of my thoughts and observations. Please feel free to respond to them in comments to this post.
(1) Strongly contested elections in which unrestricted free speech is highly valued and allowed to run its course will almost always involve both positive and negative speech. Candidates for office cannot reasonably expect to be spared the negatives in a free speaking campaign in which not only opposing candidates but also their supporters actively participate. It just doesn’t work that way. For example, I was repeatedly called a “Quisling” in the course of this campaign, which raised my blood pressure more than a notch whenever it happened, but as a candidate running in an election with extremely emotional hot buttons affecting voters all around, it is my job to grin and bear it. Other candidates on both sides of the AoA and trustee elections no doubt experienced similar affronts. Like it or not, modern Dartmouth electoral politics require candidates to have skins thicker than ever before. This will undoubtedly discourage a lot of outstanding and enormously talented alumni/ae from running for office. Shouldn’t we be concerned about this?
(2) Trustee candidates in this past election spent more money campaigning than ever in history. There seems to be no question that trustee candidates need to be able to raise or spend from their own pockets a substantial and rapidly increasing amount of money to have any realistic chance of winning a contested Dartmouth election. If this election cost the winner $100,000, then how much will it cost to win the next election? What does this mean for nominated and petition candidates alike? Must they either be wealthy themselves or have the financial support of organizations like Dartmouth Undying or the Hanover Institute? Must they be willing to divert a huge amount of money which could go to Dartmouth into alumni politics instead and still face the prospect of losing both the election and their money? How can we reasonably expect to persuade the Board of Trustees to increase the number of alumni trustee elections without first acknowledging the presence of this “elephant in the room?”
Unlike other blogs which target Dartmouth with their often negative posts, this blog invites comments, so please fire away!