How starting a political blog led me to become a local political candidate
So, the national election came and departed, and I knew I had to do something other than rant and rave. My initial reactions went through that range of emotions from denial and shock to anger and annoyance. By the time, I admitted that the election results were real, at least for the next four years, I also knew that a change was taking over my commitment to the political world. I had to become involved. I had to do more than express my opinion and model my beliefs.
As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This quote held a place in my office and as the signature on my professional email for years. I may be only one person, but a small group did exist, and I intended to join. Politics could no longer just be an interest and a passion, but it had to be a place I landed, and from which I launched a renewed interest in contributing to the Democratic community on multiple levels.
I could no longer just state my opinions and head to the voting machine. From local to national to global news outlets, I was engaged in the pros and cons, the left and right, and everywhere in between. The information was everywhere. It wasn’t enough to read the articles on every online site I could find, or endlessly watch the news, or use social media to share my opinions and emotions. Even when trying to be objective, reading and listening to both (or more) sides of a story became an exercise in torment and wonder. Without a doubt in my mind or heart, I knew I had to become involved.
Nationally and even internationally, friends and family were floundering as we tried to make sense of the election results. Emotions and questions, rather than intellect and common sense, took over. From attitudes of depression to anger and every sentiment in between, I needed to determine on personal and professional levels what was good and just, and make it a reality I could live with. Based on inquiry and information gathering, my perceptions emerged, as did the judgments. I could not fathom that the new status quo was going to become an acceptable state of affairs. Action was needed beyond emoting, and there was an immediacy to my need to learn more and create change.
It seemed that the biggest challenge was in reconciling the purposes of the two largest political parties in our nation — Democratic and Republican. Were they really hopelessly at odds, defying each other, and finding nothing in common? How could this be? We are a nation of humans, with a government based on preserving and protecting our rights and liberties. The rhetoric becomes louder each day, and the questions and answers do not connect.
Conversations and even arguments with family, friends, colleagues, and on occasion strangers, confirmed the rift. There had to be another way to coexist, to seek to understand each other and what we supported or contradicted. Taking action and getting involved in something outside my current state of being seemed to be a solution.
So, I gathered a dear friend who was experiencing the same displeasure with the election results, and we made our way to the County Democratic Committee for an informational meeting, and then to the Town Democratic Committee. Now, I knew these local committees existed but I didn’t know who made up the membership, what was considered an appropriate topic for discussion, or what was even accomplished. I just knew that this could be a means to understand, compensate, and correct the disruption that had become the norm so quickly. If I wasn’t involved in resolving the current reality, then what business did I have complaining about it? Wasn’t that what I said every election cycle to those who refused to vote, to take a stand, to even discuss politics? I read that the oft quoted phrase “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” is actually a misquotation of Eldridge Cleaver, and should be attributed to Charlie Rosner who used the phrase about his company. The correct (full) quote is: “There is no more neutrality in the world.” Well, well, that seems to be the truth.
The Committee welcomed us as first-time participants, yet the observations about the election, the decisions, the individuals now leading our government, quickly became conversations about local neighborhoods, roads, and even local governance. The concept of community emerged in these meetings, not because we grumbled about the national election (and we did), nor because we showed concern for the local issues (and we did), but because we realized that as a group, we could have influence on the tone and topic of the conversations, and thus we could use our influence as voters and citizens to impact the decisions and planned actions in our town, and perhaps beyond.
There were monthly meetings and emails, new connections and a sharing of ideas, but there had to be more I could do.
So, my friend and I considered the effect of social media. Could this be a tool to networking, to sharing ideas, and creating waves of action? The Clay Democratic Committee didn’t yet have a way to communicate with the local Democrats. What message did we want to convey and how? Letters and phone calls could reach some, but could just as easily be ignored, hung up on, or thrown in the recycling bin. Social media could introduce the Committee to the Democrats living in the Town of Clay, and could also engage interested citizens of a variety of ages. To create that network, we developed a website for the Committee (www.ClayDemocrats.com), and added a Twitter account (@ClayDemocrats) in order to reach out. Reading articles related to political topics, and following Twitter and news cycles sparked my interest. Getting involved was action.
And finally, I volunteered to write a blog; a political blog that would capture my venture into local politics and also encourage others to network with us and realize that they, too, could get involved.
I’d recently written my first article on the topic of mentoring for an educational administration magazine (https://saanys.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Vanguard-winter-2017online.pdf) and I wanted to continue writing. The idea of mentoring seemed a perfect link with telling others about the Committee and guiding them to become members.
This is my first political blog — a way to develop a kinship with my community and share my interests and experiences to improve our community realities. And surprise, surprise, I decided to run for office. More next blog …