Guest Column: Response to Stanley Campbell’s acquiescence to Manzullo

Stanley Campbell’s most recent column, “Manzullo cares about me” (Aug. 23, 2006), dismayed and disgusted me. In it, Mr. Campbell, who is Rockford’s most visible dissident, announces to everyone who bothers to read his column that Congressman Manzullo—whose anti-environment, pro-war and ultra-conservative views and voting record Mr. Campbell roundly denounces—“has a job for life” and that he “will die in office, and there is nothing we can do about it.”

In so doing, Mr. Campbell has publicly dismissed as a futile endeavor the hard work that Democratic challenger Richard Auman is doing to raise money for and public awareness of his campaign to defeat Congressman Manzullo and replace his misguided political priorities with those that Mr. Campbell approves of.

This is a very strange thing to come from the pen of a man who has spent decades promoting himself as a peace and social justice activist. No other activists I have ever known have ever proclaimed, as Mr. Campbell does, that the unjust status quo they oppose and are working to reform is nevertheless invincible, inevitable and immutable.

But this is not the first time Mr. Campbell has done so. I have heard him describe those brave souls who have challenged Congressman Manzullo in past elections as “sacrificial lambs.” Moreover, when he was offered the opportunity to become the Democratic candidate for Congress in 1998, Mr. Campbell turned down this chance to provide the voters of “fightin’ 16th” Congressional District with an alternative to Mr. Manzullo and the ultra-conservative policies and priorities that Mr. Campbell abhors.

Thanks to Mr. Campbell, Congressman Manzullo was re-elected without opposition in 1998, and in every election year since then has beaten challengers whom Mr. Campbell has dismissed as losers from the get-go. I wonder whether Mr. Campbell, who tells us, presumably sarcastically, that “Manzullo cares about [him],” realizes how true this may be. I’m guessing that Congressman Manzullo cares deeply for Mr. Campbell and especially appreciates his biennial proclamations of the inevitability of Manzullo’s re-election for yet another term in Congress.

If that’s what Mr. Campbell calls social and political activism, then I want none of it. Perhaps Congressman Manzullo appreciates the political benefits he derives from Mr. Campbell’s chronic and self-defeating pessimism, but I do not. I hope that other progressive people in this town agree and will redouble their efforts to educate their friends and neighbors about how they are being grossly misrepresented in Congress by Mr. Manzullo and his ideologically extremist priorities and principles.

As for Mr. Campbell, he would do well to re-examine his own priorities and principles to determine where, when, how and why he replaced his once-vibrant and youthful activist optimism with the dour defeatism of a burnt-out case.

John M. Stassi is a Rockford resident.

From the Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2006, issue

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