Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Why I would never tell anyone to run for office


You should run for office.

We throw that suggestion out to the people we think would make a tremendous difference in leadership roles in our government. I used to carelessly toss that out to people. Then my husband ran for office - a state representative office, lower level on the political ladder  - and I don't carelessly urge others to run for office any more because I know "you should run for office" is akin to "you should throw a bomb into the middle of your own life and not care if it blows the entire thing apart."

In a system that is designed, like all systems, to be navigated most easily and successfully by people with money, the political system in America is a field of landmines to the average citizen candidate.

There are other reasons but that, in a nutshell, is why I would not tell anyone they should run for office unless they have disposable dollars. A lot of them.

There are a million run for office organizations out there right now, as there should be. My voice of dissent is a small dose of reality.

Last year taught me a lot about politics. It is inconceivably dirty on both sides, even dirtier than you imagine it to be. If you are a candidate who will not bow to the establishment - regardless of which side of the establishment you're on - you're going to get screwed by your own party. It’s you, and you are on your own with the people who join you to build a team outside of party operations. I saw it happen in my own home, and I've seen it happen to numerous acquaintances who ran/are running for political office as democrats or independents.

If the party can't control you, they are not going to throw their support behind you monetarily or bodily with feet on the ground to get your message out. If you don't have a lot of disposable dollars of your own (I’m not kidding, the state democratic party people suggested raising $300,000-500,000 for ONE small state race...multiply that by all those races across the country then choke back your own vomit on the absolute monetary waste) and are raising money from people you know, you are less likely to be what they refer to as a viable candidate with a viable campaign. You also won't get help from Establishment people up the ballot from you unless someone deems you viable. Basically do not count on anyone. Just because someone is on the same "side" as you does not mean they will help you while you're campaigning. There are of course people who will because they like you and believe in what you believe in, but don't count on it from  everyone.

Some other things you might not know...Incumbents will almost always get endorsements from organizations because incumbents usually win...they're backed by the machine which has the money and the reach and everything you don't. Some unions are absolutely not only contributing to democratic candidates who uphold the ideals of the Labor Movement. They are also donating to incumbents from a party that supports right to work in many places and they’ll tell you it’s to keep their support but it’s just a payout. There are a lot of back room deals. People at all rungs of the political ladder are grappling for power and candidates get caught in that crossfire. I have seen democrats have democratic candidates removed from the ballot if they think they are too powerful or their opportunity is too great. They will torpedo something you busted your ass to build for months simply to hold their own place. You have to run the first time to see who will put a knife in your back, where the roadblocks are, and who the players are. And that’s just in your own party, not what’s coming at you from across the aisle.

The layers of bullshit are so deep we could talk about it forever. So when people say politicians suck, I get it. I do. I haven't even gotten into attack mailers - in a low level office, to give you an example - friends in the district received more than six (that we actually saw/have proof of) anti-MFD mailers that we estimate were sent to over 10,000 people per mailing. Even if you are squeaky clean, please disabuse yourself of the notion that people need a photo of you with JS Dolls  (NSFW) to put together a campaign attacking your character. If it doesn't exist, something will be made out of nothing. Do not attempt to run for office if you have thin skin. Or limited funds and time - during the last two months on the campaign trail for state rep offices and above you'll be pushed to campaign like it's your job even though there is $0 salary and you probably have an actual job you need to do to pay bills and live.

I could write an entire book on this but it’s late and I need to go to sleep. The problem is a million fold but much of it boils down to two things: money and corruption.

Unfortunately in order to root out both, average citizen candidates without millions in disposable income who are outsiders to the system and not corrupted by power or influence MUST run for office. So I write this knowing there must be sacrificial lambs among us. Citizens United must be overturned on the federal level, dark money must be extracted from the equation, and we must support candidates who refuse to take money from corporations.

In an ideal world, I'd like every candidate to have the same amount of money to spend (varying based on level/office) and for them to actually have to get out and meet people where they are in order to campaign. I’d like no corporations, lobbyists, unions, or the FOP to be able to fund campaigns. Then no one could afford ads on TV that we all freaking hate or to waste money on attack mailers and they'd have to rely on themselves, their beliefs and plans. And real people without economic privilege would have more than a fighting chance against the Machine. The amount of money spent on campaigning is completely gross given the poverty in this country. Combine that with the fact that people from lower economic classes and marginalized communities who have the best real life experience with problems and areas where innovation is needed are almost impossible to get elected and our class system is on proud display for all to see. It’s disgusting. Don’t even get me started on the trash women running deal with.

Despite the cesspool to swim through, there are people out there committed to running the gauntlet to actually serve people, and maybe you're one of them. And I support the hell out of that despite the title of this post.

Where do we go from here? If you are not a candidate, please do NOT give money blanketly to a party organization (DNC or RNC) or a PAC that engages in shitty activities. Please tell incumbents and prospective candidates not to take money from those PACs. Please donate directly to candidates who inspire you and help make them viable. When they say your $15 or $25 matters, they really mean it. If you don't have $$ but have time, volunteer to knock doors or make phone calls or work the polls on Election Day as a friendly face to everyone coming out to vote. If you are a candidate, gird your loins.

We can change the wretched system. But it's going to take all of us, and those of us who get in need to keep promises to do away with the crap and provide a government that is for the people, not for the people in power.

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