Newcomer needling always amusing

It should be a special but essential requirement for an Ogden-area newcomer to avoid mistakes in a political campaign. Step in it and it’s likely the locals will tear apart your carpetbagger candidacy.

So it is with Ogden newcomer David Phipps, running for city council. He’s made some highly visible pratfalls in his campaign, as reported by Scott Schwebke in the Standard-Examiner today.

Phipps is blaming the faux endorsements of two local VIPs on miscommunication with his campaign manager, who happens to be based in Salt Lake City, at the University of Utah. Longtime residents are easily drawn to the inquiry, “Why is he using someone from Salt Lake when we have plenty of sharp people who could run a campaign right here in Ogden?” Let the savaging commence. It is a good question.

It’s been said of Ogden, in obvious overstatement but retaining enough truth to sting, “Ninety-five percent of the people are the nicest you’ll ever meet; but the other 5 percent are the meanest you’ll ever meet.” The funny aspect to me, though, is that it’s not always the Ogden natives who are the stars of Troop Mean. Some of the half-life locals can be off the charts.

How ironic is it, for instance, to hear an Ogdenite criticize a newcomer for using out-of-town talent or committing some other un-Ogden act, when that same Ogdenite was, at one time, a carpetbagger himself or herself from some other netherworld? Let me be clear: I just think it’s amusing. I’m not offended by it. There’s nothing inherently wrong about it. Perhaps it merely demonstrates that there is some validity to that Five Percent Rule and that just being here for a few years moves some people into the Ogden hypercritical group.

More likely, it’s only naturally reflexive, anywhere, to grasp the “he’s not one of us, he’s one of them” attitude when confronted by a newcomer’s candidacy. Do you want to trust the new guy, or Joe down the street?

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6 Responses to Newcomer needling always amusing

  1. flatlander100 says:

    Well, Mark, you wrote:

    “How ironic is it, for instance, to hear an Ogdenite criticize a newcomer for using out-of-town talent or committing some other un-Ogden act, when that same Ogdenite was, at one time, a carpetbagger himself or herself from some other netherworld? Let me be clear: I just think it’s amusing. I’m not offended by it. There’s nothing inherently wrong about it. Perhaps it merely demonstrates that there is some validity to that Five Percent Rule and that just being here for a few years moves some people into the Ogden hypercritical group.”

    Ah, Mark: We could quibble, I suppose, about how many years someone has to be in Ogden to become a non-carpetbagger, One? Three? Five? Ten? There’s another Council candidate who brags on his flyer that his family has been here since the 1800s — which conveys, I guess we are supposed to believe, some inherited special knowledge about Junction City today?

    And yes, it’s obvious, anyone not born here arrived here [and so was a newbie] at some point. But remember, Mark, Carpetbaggers were not simply new arrivals to the post-civil war treasonous South, they were arrivals who sought government office in order to, the defeated claimed, enrich themselves at the locals’ expense. I don’t think it’s in the least odd or funny for someone who was once a nebie himself to raise questions about whether someone who decided to run for City Council after at most a year is being…. what? arrogant? presumptuous?… to think he’s been here long enough to know enough about the city, its movers and shakers, its problems, its resources, and the back story to much that is now in the news to put himself up for public office.

    Of course he has the right to do so. No one is questioning that. What’s at issue is the wisdom of his doing so, and whether this still wet-behind-the-ears Ogdenite knows enough about his new home town to do the job well. Next cycle, he’d be a resident here three years, and the carpetbagger argument would have much less resonance — though I grant you, some would still insist he was not really an Ogdenite because his ancestors didn’t have to be rescued out of the snowbank in Wyoming they’d foolishly hauled their handcart to in the middle of winter.

    [Full Disclosure: I arrived here a little over 8 years ago and so, by your standards, Mark, am a "half-life local" --- but I wasn't presumptuous enough to run for public office barely after unloading the moving van like someone I could mention who shall remain nameless but whose initials are David Phipps.]

  2. Mark Shenefelt says:

    Good reply, Flatlander. My post was intended as a playful jab at the inexact exercise of scoring the sanctity of residency. Phipps seems to be piling up plenty of negatives all by himself.

    Speaking in general, I don’t think it necessarily a bad or alarming thing that someone relatively new to town decides to run for office. Aggressive community involvement can be quite a favorable attribute. But a new hard-charger should not be surprised to get “OK, who is this guy?” scrutiny.

  3. leftofutah says:

    Flatlander:

    Taking your definition of “carpetbagger” to heart, a definition with which I totally agree, the first and worst offenders were those religious wackos who over-ran the Salt Lake basin starting in 1847.

  4. leftofutah says:

    I owe you a disclaimer as well. I was born and raised Presbyterian and converted to Roman Catholicism at age 30 so I certainly qualify as a religious wacko.

  5. Mark Shenefelt says:

    Left, what’s the saying? Something like, \One man’s wacko is another man’s sage?\

    As for carpetbaggers, if we take it far back enough, our continent’s natives probably ran out the neanderthals and cro-magnons. (Or, probably not; I’m not an anthropologist). ;)

  6. leftofutah says:

    You’re probably right. I wonder if our continent’s natives were proclaiming “Manifest Destiny.”

    Now I’m really conflicted and my Neanderthal friends are really pi$$ed.

    I told them they should sue to get their continent back. I told them it would be simple. In fact it’s so easy…

    My friends are not talking to me anymore.

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