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Council candidate Eklow: It's just me

BY GUEST OPINION | OCTOBER 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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The personhood of corporations and political organizations seems obviously absurd. Then again, they seem to have a lot of friends, at least on Facebook. Although, they probably don't get a lot of event invitations.

I love parties. A party, even if thrown or organized by one or few, is a collaboration among all involved, everyone acting a different part, likely with her or his own agenda, but all working toward the general goal of having a nice time. In a dream, that description might also describe politics.

On the other hand, political parties, rallies, speeches, iconography, and efficient collective decision-making have always left a vaguely dangerous taste in my mouth. The "leaderless" quality of the Occupy Wall Street movement is appealing to me in that it is not many working to get one voice heard but rather many, together. E pluribus, pluribus.

When I walked by College Green the other day, I wanted to drop off some donations to the occupation. There are things coming out of the movement I agree with, others I do not, but it is this very nature of plurality that made me want to help, even if only to drop off a few things. I wanted to donate to my neighbors in the park.

I dropped the items off on my way to work, but was asked my first name before I left. I hadn't intended to leave my name, but they wanted to know whom to thank. I told the girl my name, and another protester said, "You're Josh Eklow, running for City Council.

"I just want to let you know that we might vote later today to not accept donations from political organizations."

At first confused as to why I was being told this, I realized she was saying I might not be able to donate after the night's vote because I was a political organization.

My hope had been that the Iowa City City Council race would be among persons.

It has seemed the race is actually a contest of political organizations. I've felt a sense of dread as I realized that by entering the race, I've become a political organization.

I've spent much of campaign season desperately looking for a job in Iowa City, struggling to pay my bills, too worried about impending debt to put money into the kinds of stuff a political organization spends its money on. I also grew wary at the prospect of having to be a political organization myself.

While many of the candidates in this race are backed by various influential organizations in town, no one asked me to run. I had some issues and ideas I wanted to bring forward, and I had hoped to represent the very group of people that have been sleeping in the park: the "99 percent."

There doesn't seem to be a place in politics for the individual, the private citizen, the person. It seemed to confound people that if they wanted to ask about Josh, they would actually have to talk to me. There is no machine behind me. I am a political organization of one, and for me, that feels like one too many.

If you vote today, feel free to vote for me. Person to person, I would appreciate it. If you're looking for another person to vote for, I ask you to consider Jarrett Mitchell. In all honesty, I just hope you vote at all. I also hope that when you do, you also give some thought to the organizations, apparent or all-to-often hidden, for whom you are actually casting a ballot.

Josh Eklow is an at-large candidate for Iowa City City Council.


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