Thursday, March 08, 2007

Matt Sanchez and The Future of Political Activism

Joshua Claybourn poses an interesting question in this post about the revelations of Matt Sanchez's past.
What does all of this mean, and should it be an issue? When does someone become a public figure, and when they do, what are the limits of personal investigation? How relevant are the personal lives of activists?


I'm in no position to judge Sanchez, in large part because I know very little about his background or the positions he's taken. But I do know that this revelation and media reaction will have larger implications on political activism, and I'm not so sure the result will be a good one.(emphasis added)
Claybourn presents a real difficult proposition. We as a nation like to exalt the common man who stands up for what he beleives in, makes a few waves and effects some sort of change. We celebrate the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington mentality and believe it to be an example of the best in America.

But when does such a person become a public figure? I tend to think that a person becomes a public figure when they actively seek media attention for themselves and not for their cause. In that respect, I think maybe Sanchez crossed the line from a private crusader with a public cause into a public figure. But the difficult situation is that sometimes causes need a public face and when it comes to leftist behavior on college campuses like Columbia, having a public face maybe the only way to effect change.

Having said all that, Sanchez's record on his issue does not mean the press has a free reign to dig into his past. To his credit, Sanchez is not denying his past and the kind of work he did is not illegal, and should not detract from his message about the climate on college campuses. Sadly, his message and ideas will be drowned out by the media salivation over his past. While the past may shape a person of today, it does not define that person in some nice littel pigeonhold.

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