The Border Observer Relies on Fear Mongering
by Jimmy Suerken
Posted on April 27, 2007
I have decided to write this piece for Newspaper Tree after a long debate with myself over allowing other, shall we say, more vociferous (borderline ridiculous) publications to engage in the publishing of blatant lies and fear mongering. For too long, I believe many of the more sophisticated civic participants have risen above the fray of petty politics and petty publications in order to refrain from giving these any sort of credibility. While that is fine, and what we should do more often than not, it is also important to address this type of criticism at important junctures i.e. election season. Therefore, I would like to do my part and clarify some of the misinformation and improper inferences found in media outlets with particular agendas.
While it is a known fact among many city government-watchdog types that attorney Luther Jones is involved behind the scenes and is suspected of authoring many of the campaign materials for various candidates, this information is not widely known. In fact, I would venture to say that most of El Paso’s voters neither know this, nor do they care. That should not be a surprise, nor should it be something that we must actively try to bring to the public. The truth is we know little about the full extent of Mr. Jones’s involvement and how much he can and does influence policy decisions in El Paso.
On the flipside of that coin, however, publications such as the Border Observer actively create conspiracy theories about many politicians, business people, and community leaders opposed to their particular agenda. For example, a recent article titled "The Fleecing of El Paso Part II," the Editor, Jaime O. Perez (infamous for spearheading numerous failed recalls) constructs an intricate theory about contributors to my campaign. He effectively claims that my campaign contributions are self-serving. He never once mentioned that my support base is broad and includes teachers, attorneys, business people, and public servants. In fact, my largest contribution to date has been from the El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association. Of course, it is to be expected that a publication with a particular agenda will engage in the molding of facts, but to insinuate that there is a giant conspiracy between seventy-eight vastly different contributors is a bit of a stretch in my mind.
I was particularly amused by the cartoon of Rep. Presi Ortega and me in this week's issue of the Border Observer. For some reason, Mr. Perez believes that broad support from a variety of politicians in El Paso including Mayor Cook, Rep. Steve Ortega, Rep. Susie Byrd, County Commissioner Veronica Escobar, as well as Rep. Presi Ortega, means that I will be influenced to vote one way or another. The problem therein lies in the fact that all of my endorsements and support, I believe, come from intelligent, independent thinkers who have the utmost respect for other intelligent and independent thinkers. I have never said that I agree with my supporters on every issue. I would hope that they disagree with me on certain issues and engage me through honest and intelligent dialogue. I know several members of council favor debate and lively conversation precisely because this is the medium through which intelligent decisions are made. This is the type of decision-making process that I hope to see on the future council.
Many times, it seems that if the other side has a tough time getting their point across, they must resort to libel and insinuation. This is a last resort for the desperate. It is an appeal to one of the most basic human emotions: Fear. We saw it during the El Paso County Judge campaign. Instead of focusing on all the great things we can accomplish at the county level, the winning candidate chose to talk about tax hikes and played on this most basic human emotion throughout the entire campaign. I must say, however, that a positive appeal was not part of the leading opponent’s strategy either. This was rather unfortunate because we were unable to see if a truly positive campaign could win over the hearts and minds of voters. The other side has interpreted the county judge win as a victory for their negative strategy. Therefore, they will continue to slander and antagonize politicians, business folk, and community leaders not on their side of the table.
What does all of this mean? Personally, it means that I will continue to wage the war against misinformation and libel by focusing on the positive aspects of campaigning. I will focus on the things that can be accomplished through collective efforts in this great city of ours. Collectively, it means that we will all continue to be subject to the destructive writings and opinions of detractors. Ultimately, this could be a positive thing. If we put it into perspective, it could serve as an indication that we are doing our best in serving the public good.
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