Warning to the Ben Dictors of SG

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12 Responses

  1. Good post, Ken. Unfortunately, you knock the guy for being a Republican leading GDI’s, then you knock him for being a Republican switching to Obama in the 11th hour.

    While I concur with you in that Simmons Indie-cred is on life support, largely over the Pants walkout, I think you’re critique is lacking in that many notable GDI’s have come from the right.

    Dictor is not going to nationalize Student Government, he is not going to expropriate SGP and Accent and establish revolutionary republics throughout campus. Dictor is not going to create a workers’ state (though America would not be in this chaotic economic state were that the case).

    If elected, Dictor will have to abide by the same Student Body Statutes that either Mark McShera or Jordan Johnson would have to and suggesting anything shy of that, is a bit (dare I say) sensationalist.

    Everyone deserves a second chance. For years now I have been attacking Simmons and I’m not quite sure he’s redeemed himself just yet, but I think the Dictor ticket is promising. I want to see the Left mobilized in SG and by LEFT – I am not referring to young democrats whirling around in ecstacy over the next four years of obama-mania. Democrats are not – and never have been, ‘the Left.’

    i also would like to respectfully challenge your inquisitiveness. Ben Dictor is not a communist, just like Barack Obama is not (despite GOP-friendly automated calls to Cuban American Miami households said to the contrary).

    Power in the indie movement has never been much of an issue – mainly because the GDI’s never had much of a chance. Now that that has changed, we need to have more internal democracy, more internal disclosure, and more power-sharing.

    Since you’re posting at length….may I get your thoughts on Article 4? The concept that older Indie party members can hold sway vis a vis Member-At-Large positions, in completely undemocratic fashion over newer members of current Indie parties? What are your thoughts on this novel course of governance?

  2. Ken says:

    Josh sold out the SG version of liberals (the GDI/insurgents) to sattle up with its version of the Right (FBK). And the only reason he appeared to even switch sides nationally was to get press attention, not as a shift in ideology (I never pegged Josh as much of an ideologue either way as much as an attention-grabber). But any Republican attempting to lead a leftist in any campaign is rather suspect, especially since that Republican has a turncoat history – we’ve had Republicans as Independents before (Capezza for example) but they had credibility to lead the Independents. Josh doesn’t.

    And I agree with you, Dictor’s national politics don’t matter in the SG context, especially since the biggest element of socialism SG could do has already been done (we hold a 50% share in the Reitz Union’s operating budget, and control the biggest speaking and concert gigs on campus). And as I pointed out elsewhere, the ideology of the independent movement can allow diversity of thought not as welcomed in the national parties.

    Again, my problem with the Dictor/Simmons alliance is that Simmons lacks much Indie cred and the two of them (with reputations for big egos) ended up splitting the movement when it finally had a chance to beat FBK on its own terms (perhaps without even needing a Greek on the ticket).

    Now, I don’t know much about how O&B is structured, and without taking a look at their bylaws, I am ill-equipped to comment.

    I know MAL positions are common in the college council system and the residence halls (to encourage regular participation and not just a flood of activists at a key meeting). If O&B structured their MALs like IRHA and the BOCC umbrellas, then I might not have a problem with it – if O&B held regular meetings like any other club.

    On the other hand, if MALs are used by O&B to keep voting rights limited to certain people based on seniority, that’s a little more dubious, given that the Fall iteration of O&B was very much powered by the progressive movement that was particularly active due to the Obama/McCain battle. For example, it would be fairer to offer a vote to any and all members of the last two Senate slates that O&B put up.

    But I also know that the tradition of SG parties is that they aren’t long-lasting, and are always officially created around a presidential candidate – whose candidacy is decided in a backroom and an informal caucus of influentials that will form the party’s Exec during that campaign. While O&B (like Vision in 2000) wasn’t trying to do anything different than this, except to have the process be more open in a PR-stunt called a convention. Only problem is, unlike Vision, O&B had a contested nomination that couldn’t be resolved in closed doors.

    Is this entirely fair? Probably not. I’d certainly say there was a way to make the nomination both more transparent and less rooted in some sort of independent establishment (how contradictory a notion is that?).

    At the very least, as I said elsewhere in this long-ass comment, O&B should have granted voting rights to any UF student who ran with them before, and probably develop a system to recognize the activists and influentials who have been regular supporters but not candidates of O&B. And this should have allowed Dictor’s faction to be represented, but exclude any possibility of a whole bunch of first-time folks showing up to wash away control of the party.

    Dictor should not have felt the need to leave O&B, but he should also not have the ego to let himself split a movement that needs to be united to just have a long-shot at winning.

  3. Ken says:

    What I meant to say near the end is that SG parties are usually created by a presidential candidate, not vice versa. O&B’s success, and the determination of Dictor and McShera to run, has lead to a terrible embarrassment of riches. So in this way, O&B’s organizational problem (which may have compounded its factional split) is rather unique.

    Dictor’s Progress Party response to losing O&B’s nomination is the more common way to create a party and nomination (by back-room meetingss followed by a press release to the Alligator) than what happened this year (an existing party tries to settle a contested nomination in public and it backfires).

  4. Kevin Deros says:

    Ken,

    O&B did give voting rights to anyone who worked with us before, that is why people like Huey and Stinson voted. Dictor could have brought in anyone he showed was a volunteer, he didn’t.

    The problem is not O&B, the problem is Dictor’s ego.

  5. Ken says:

    As I said, Kevin, I am not privy to how O&B operated, so I didn’t want to comment on their legitimacy. The truth is, it sounds like O&B tried to do in the open what most SG parties preemptively do in the backroom before they even announce their existence. It’s admirable, and historically rare, even if it failed to resolve the differences between the two candidates.

  6. Kevin Deros says:

    The truth is O&B was decided at Cafe Gardens when no one wanted to run (Dictor said no). So everyone talked Mark into running. Mark did a lot of footwork and outreach, looked like he had a chance, and then Josh somehow talked Dictor into running. The O&B party then had a convention to allow its members to pick the candidate. A date was picked, then cancelled because some officials couldn’t make it. Dictor’s folk raised a stink, so they reinstated the meeting (the officials moved some of their other meetings around) and Dictor’s people never showed. The rest you know.

  7. Josh says:

    Ken, I’ve obviously taken a lot of flak, online or not, anonymous or otherwise, for many of my past decisions, so I’ve become rather immune to it. In this case, though, I consider it a little bothersome coming from someone who is nowhere near the current situation, and who I thought would at least make an attempt to reach out and hear my side of the story before commenting on it.

    First of all, let me say that I’m not perfect, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be. I did not handle the situation surrounding my vote for Obama very well at all – I should’ve “come clean” immediately or not at all, rather than mull the decision for nine days. When I finally decided that I shouldn’t have to hide what I believed, I should have realized that it was too late and that I would only create a big shitstorm. But I didn’t, so I did.

    To think that I did it out of ego is laughable. I lost quite a few friends by my actions, practically all of my political connections, and to this day am still dealing with the fallout. You can think of me what you will, but at least be able to admit that I’m smart enough to know that two days of national “press” (to my knowledge, the story was picked up only by several blogs – I didn’t get a single call or e-mail from a reporter about it) is not worth losing friends or a political future.

    Now, to address these claims that I somehow “sold out” the independent movement when I decided to support Ryan Moseley, who turned out to be one of the most capable Student Body Presidents of recent memory, instead of some ill-fated and time-consuming independent candidacy. See, I always thought that being an “independent” was about thinking for yourself – making a decision based on what was best for the student body, not what was best for you or for your political party or for the decision-makers in a (metaphorical) smoky back room who hold the (metaphorical) keys to your future.

    When I realized that whatever candidate we ran in that spring couldn’t possibly be as qualified or capable as Ryan Moseley, I decided that supporting Ryan Moseley was the better option. Now admittedly, there was some self-interest in the choice, but nothing like what some people claim. After three semesters of pouring my heart and soul into SG, my GPA was barely hovering above the level necessary to keep my scholarships. I was offered the chance to slate for the Gator Party, with no promise of actually being picked to run, and turned it down to write a column for the Alligator. I held no party affiliation and did not campaign for any political party that semester. I am unaware as to how this somehow constitutes “selling out” the “independent movement,” and I haven’t any clue where you got this idea that I have “long supported” FBK, an organization that I do not belong to, have no intention of ever belonging to, and consider elitist, exclusionary, and a concentrated exemplar of everything that is wrong with Student Government at this University. But then, I’m sure you’ve heard a twisted, sensationalistic version of that story and of course never talked to me personally to verify it.

    Finally then, to address the current situation, let me outline the course of events that you probably aren’t as aware of. Last September, in the week prior to the LSAT, as I recall, I approached Sam Miorelli about helping the Orange & Blue Party win the Student Body Presidency in the Spring. As my last semester here, I only have a few classes left to take, and expected to have quite a bit of free time on my hands. As my girlfriend will woefully tell you, I always have to be under a lot of stress to operate properly, and honestly wanted to leave an Impact on SG before I left here. Sam seemed receptive to my ideas and my offer for assistance, and although I expressed concern at the fact that O&B didn’t seem to have any SBP candidates immediately standing out (a concern Sam shared, although as we’ve now learned, already knew that Mark McShera was the anointed O&B candidate) we went on our merry ways, deciding to wait until after the Fall elections to see where to go from there.

    After the Fall elections, I approached Ben Dictor, having been impressed by the way he handled himself in Senate and while talking to students, and told him I wanted him to run for Student Body President and that I would be willing to do whatever it took to help him win (inspired a bit, I have to admit, and as you’ll surely appreciate, by Josh Lyman’s entreaty to Matt Santos). At the time, he was noncommittal. He took some additional coaxing after the (national) election, but eventually seemed to warm to the idea after I started a Facebook group encouraging him to run and watching it skyrocket to over 200 members in a few days.

    I’m not entirely sure what was happening behind the scenes in the O&B Party at this point, but obviously they had already decided on a presidential nominee, and blatantly refused to even consider the possibility of running Dictor as their candidate. Beyond that, certain elements within O&B, who to this day cowardly hide behind a veil of anonymity, had started smearing Dictor’s character on The Radikal and in whisper campaigns among those within the party. When called out, they all feigned ignorance and even seemed to blame Ben for causing the fracas by simply having the chutzpah to seek the nomination.

    The nail in the coffin for O&B was discovering the truth behind the “Green Means Go” e-mails, told by someone who was intimately involved in their theft and publication to the current O&B Party President and two Senators affiliated with the party. The manner in which the e-mails were acquired is most likely criminal, and the way in which they were distributed completely deceptive. Yet no one with this knowledge, aside from Ben Dictor, is willing to come forward with it. From my perspective, the Orange and Blue Party is now no better than the Gator Party. We’re not “splitting the independent movement” – the Orange and Blue Party is no longer party of the “independent movement.”

    The system is broken on both sides. I don’t believe that it is impossible for Ben Dictor to win, in fact I believe that if we run our campaign as well as I think we can (and perhaps if I don’t waste time writing responses on blogs) then we have a damn good shot at it. You’re free to have your reservations about anything I’ve written here – I’ve waxed rhetorical at times, to be sure, and I certainly only represent one side of the story. I’d only hope that in the future you have the courtesy to actually ask me about my motivations first, instead of just assuming.

  8. Ken says:

    It is fair to say that I didn’t know your side of the story, nor did I seek it out. I apologize for that. Nor am I at all aware of these emails that may have been criminally obtained, so I can’t say for sure what to believe about the O&B.

    All I do know is that Dictor needs more than just an energized progressive caucus to win, and the presence of both Dictor and McShera on the ballot greatly reduces the chance of either winning – especially since you need a majority to win, and FBK’s party tends to do better in the runoff (since they usually come out in front on the first ballot).

    Your smart, and you’ve known independents past and present for a long time, so I’m sure you know what you’re doing. But this whole election is a mess and I just don’t see a good way out of it unless you’ve managed to steal pieces from both sides of the broken system. I see you’ve not yet announced a Treasurer (as of last week), so maybe you’ve got a popular candidate that will build upon your coalition. And if so, good luck.

    I’ve seen strange things happen (from Jess Johnson not running for President to Jamal Sowell being elected President to the four-way race in 2000). So I know, at UF, as predictable as a Key victory is, no election is without some entertaining drama.

  9. Kevin Deros says:

    Is Josh a big scaredy cat? Name the students involved in this “criminal” act if you trust this intimately involved source. Once you have actually named names I want you to post your claims verbatim in the progress Facebook group.

    Put up or shut up you coward.

  10. Kevin Deros says:

    I take josh’s silence as affirmation. If Josh insists someone hacked the emails then Josh needs to man up and name names.

  11. Josh says:

    Kevin Deros isn’t your real name. Come find me in person and I’ll tell you the whole story, although I’m quite sure that you already know it.

  12. Kevin Deros says:

    You failed to man up.

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