A note on campaign rhetoric

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, elections are the worst form of choosing a leader except for all the others. Elections are messy. They have winners and losers. They pit well intentioned people against each other and force candidates to struggle with balancing the greater good against personal ambitions. They require friends to pick sides and set the stage for emotional debates .

SPAH’s founders chose elections as the means to pick its leaders. It took 50 years but there is finally a contested election. There’s no point in having [them] if they “… cannot give a [an organization] a firm sense of direction [or] if it has two or more [candidates who] merely have different names but are as alike in their principles and aims as two peas in the same pod.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

The good news is for first time, there are two people who love love the organization and its mission enough to volunteer their time to serve. Because Winslow and I are not two peas in a pod, the members are now in control of SPAH’S destiny instead of a small group of people chosen by the current president.

Everyone agrees the convention experience is the heart and soul of SPAH’s identity. We all want to preserve and advance our instrument. We also agree SPAH should be the premier harmonica organization.

The road diverges, as it were, at management style and goals for how to carry SPAH’s legacy into the future.

We need someone willing to till new fields and grow different crops. Every farmer knows he can not grow the same plant in the same field in perpetuity. Looking back over the last ten years, we have not grown. Staying the same is not an accomplishment, it is maintaining the status quo.

Were the presidency about being rewarded for time in rank or accomplishments in musicianship, the choice would be clear and I would not have run.

Alas, the office of president is not a ceremonial role nor is choosing a new leader a popularity contest. We do not have an executive director who can run the business while the president presides over plates of beef, chicken or fish and gives out awards.

I am not running for president to be master of ceremonies at the annual banquet, or to get a place on the stage during the convention, or because it will help me sell books or get gigs. I am running because I believe in the mission and I believe I have the right experience for the challenges facing us today.

Civil competition, especially among friends, requires utmost care. The challenge we face as candidates is to illustrate the differences in ideas without hurting feelings. This requires both meticulous language and the ability to distinguish between differences of opinion and judgment of the person.

When the dust settles and the choices are made, governing begins. At that point, I hope we can set aside our differences of opinion and and labor together for SPAH’s benefit. And I hope we can get back to the real matter at hand: music.