Back In The Saddle

img_0728_full_postI recently announced – somewhat casually – on my Facebook Page that I intend to run for public office.

This is a broader and more in-depth look at that intent and the situation relating to it as things stand right now.

I’ll spare the long intros; most people who are reading this know who I am, and eventually I’ll have all the bio stuff available publicly anyway.  A few weeks ago, I walked away from politics entirely and with all sincerity.

And then November 9th, 2016 happened, and I can’t do that anymore.

I’ve been asked, lots and lots of times, to stand for public office.

Now I’m standing for public office.

I’m not ruling ANYTHING out that I’d be potentially qualified for, but I’m also 45 years old and I have some thoughts on the more subtle implications of the internet age that actually make it to my advantage to work a broader space. There’s a whole narrative there that you can probably imagine, and which I will be discussing in greater detail, but before we talk about details like that, there are some very basic questions to be addressed.

I could seriously put a website up for this in three hours. A professional, high-quality site in maybe two weeks if I was at least half-time on it. The big barrier there is the one I’ve always faced: no money for advertising and resources. But as a political candidate, it’s absolutely expected that I’ll be raising *some* money. “Cheap” can be done; “free” really can’t, and it’s no secret that I’m not rich. If I was, I wouldn’t be running for office.

If I could put a couple of thousand dollars – eh, let’s do it right and say ten K for a budget that would potentially even include getting my car fixed so I can travel to shoot video for ads, I could literally do the entire public-facing side of it myself.  No, I’m not saying “please send money,” at least not yet.  If I get to that point, I’ll do it more formally.

What I’m lacking is the detail work. It won’t take much before there’s too much there for one person to manage themselves, especially if that person’s holding down a full time job and running for public office. There’s certainly something to be said for “boots on the ground,” but street teams have been a core marketing strategy since….well, forever if you think about it. Me going around telling people how great I am isn’t going to do anything. Other people going around and saying hey this guy deserves your serious attention will. Coordinators, schedulers, etc. The gear to hold and broadcast public interviews and meetings via web needs to come from somewhere, as well as some additional help including (ugh) demographic and market research and analysis, polling, and things like that. I need people who know the specific mechanics of politics for various places, like filing requirements (or who is interested in and capable of handling that kind of somewhat boring but specific research necessary to ensure that we’re not wasting our time only to miss a bit of red tape that leaves us stopped). I need input from people who aren’t just going to blow smoke up my ass (or troll) but offer constructive and meaningful counter-argument when they think I’m wrong.

As I’ve said, right now nothing is off the table. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that I’ll move back to Michigan and try to do something from there. It’s a far more important state politically, and I fit the culture there far better than I do here. But logistically that’s not likely – I’d have to find the money to get back there and a job stable and lucrative enough to sustain me.

From a standpoint of “can I do the job” from a technical perspective: I’m not deeply versed in parliamentary procedure, but neither are most others walking into that kind of job for the first time – and there’s got to be a first time, for everyone. So that doesn’t scare me either in terms of reality nor rhetoric. Someone starts in with “inexperienced,” the response is “of course, that’s the whole point; I’m not going to Washington to do Washington’s work. I’m going to Washington to make Washington do ours. Next question?” Intersperse with bits of reasoning and various appeals as needed – many of the very things I’m writing here, now.

So what is our work, and how am I going to do it?

Right now I don’t even know what office to attempt. That’s part of why I’m conducting this conversation in public, because I want to hear from people who are interested in contributing their thoughts and potentially their time and energy to helping me become an active candidate for public office. MANY of you over the years have asked me about this, including representatives from political parties. I don’t even know which party, if any, to run with. Don’t know yet *when* to run, in which election year. There are long and short and medium-length pathways here; I need input on which is the better option at what time. I’m not beyond the notion of intentionally running for a local office with little hope of victory but enough to gain a more public profile. I’m not beyond running as a Democrat or Independent or Green or even a Republican – I could make a very strong argument for myself as an Eisenhower Republican if that’s what my best information, analysis, and advisors determine is the most likely route to long-term success.

I’m sure an opportunity will present itself, if I’m in the right context, for me to say things other people will talk about for better and worse. Details are necessarily going to be in short supply at the outset; I certainly can’t plan to write and pass legislation in Washington if I might be running for mayor of Dogpatch, MS.  But here’s the back room summary of my platform:

  • Much is broken and needs to be fixed.
  • People are hurting that needs to stop.
  • People are hurting EACH OTHER and that SERIOUSLY needs to stop.
  • We are missing opportunities to grow and explore and thrive and improve and evolve because we’re wrapped up in bullshit, much of it intentionally imposed by the powerful to maintain their power by keeping those who might challenge that power exhausted and distracted.
  • Our government has been at best moderately effective and at worst outrageously destructive and even criminal, at all levels, for all my living memory.
  • That has to stop.
  • Ignorance has to stop.
  • Hate has to stop.
  • Inequality of opportunity must end.
  • Certain institutions and services, in the public interest simply can not be operated on a basis of profit and loss and be effective. Others cannot be operated *solely* on that basis. Education, basic human needs, things that no person and no person’s god or conscience would deny any other human being in ensuring they have every possible opportunity to achieve their greatest human potential. Food, shelter, clothing, transportation, education, communication, the opportunity to earn a living doing what one does best, whatever that might be. Criminal justice. Health care. We can and we must afford these things, not instead of paying for national security but as a part of paying for national security.
  • Our republic is on the brink of separation.  That has to stop, and it has to stop now, and it’s only going to stop if we stop being so hateful towards each other.

And no, that – by every god and goddess that ever was – does NOT give you the right to claim hurt feelings or oppression when someone tells you to stop being an asshole, if you’re actually being an asshole. Your right to be an asshole stops when it starts hurting people. The same goes for your right to be as wealthy as you can. “As you can” includes doing it ethically without relying on the destruction of not just public but vital resources to the long-term sustainability of this planet, including its people exploited in labor whether that’s as slaves or being paid far less than their work deserves.

I’m not trying to start a movement or cult of personality. Those of you who have been around me for a while know that I don’t play games like that. I don’t mince words, I don’t pander to public opinion, and I don’t stand down when I believe there is something seriously wrong going on. You have watched me pay a very heavy price for that over the years at the hands of the very same people who helped elect President Donald J. Trump.

I don’t promise I’ll be comfortable.  I don’t promise I’ll tell you what you want to hear.  In fact I promise that before this is said and done, I’ll tell every single person who reads this at least ten things they don’t want to hear and three that will flat-out piss them off.

You saw me support Bernie Sanders, and you saw me reluctantly offer at the very least my vote to Clinton as consolation prize (I’ll not get into the process of my decision-making on that, here and now)…and in every possible instance, I was told my vote was not needed. When I pointed out that there were very serious, obvious, and documented logistical, strategic, and ethical flaws happening within the Clinton campaign, when I pointed out that Sanders was polling stronger everywhere and particularly against Trump, I was abandoned by many people who have stood with me for years, people who have supported me with love and sometimes with cash as well, people who have asked me repeatedly to do what I’m doing right now.

When I said that I thought if she won the nomination she’d lose the general, more people left. I was called a misogynist and a hater, people who had professed their never-ending admiration quietly disappeared.

I saw this coming and I not only could do nothing to stop it, even attempting to try was costing me relationships I valued and making me anxious and miserable.  After thirty-one years active politically capped with a nearly complete political science minor, I walked away from politics, with the sincere intent to never engage publicly in the practice again.  There was nothing I could do and the cost was just too high.

Now everything has happened just like I said it would.  Nobody’s apologized or re-friended me on Facebook.  They’re all busy blaming third parties and independents and the usual mass contingent of those who just didn’t bother, because nobody wants to face the simple reality that Hillary Clinton was the wrong choice for Democratic presidential candidate, and millions of potential Democratic voters knew it.

The Democratic leadership overruled them and deliberately set Trump up as a leading candidate.  That is not a conspiracy theory, it isn’t even in question.  Not even the campaign denied the veracity of that e-mail.

Democratic leadership decided to be autocratic, and they handed away the best possible conditions they could have asked for to gain resounding success for possibly another 8-16 years.

Because this election, what people wanted in this election, was dramatic change away from autocracy and authoritarianism. Michael Moore was broadly interpreted as having “jumped on the trump train” in late October when he contended that electing Donald J. Trump would go down as the biggest “Fuck You” in human history. Because that’s the mood people are in, and yes that very much includes legitimate criticisms of the current administration.

And someone was going to catch that big “Fuck You.” It’s been coming for about thirty years. The Democratic Party had the perfect setup – a broadly popular candidate (whose strongest critics were entirely within the party whose nomination he sought), solid, down to earth, willing to stand his ground and fight for what he believes is the right thing, intellectually agile enough to adjust his beliefs based on relevant new information, able to pack tens of thousands of people into rallies.

The people who told me I was wrong, that my vote wasn’t needed, that my friendship wasn’t needed, that I was no longer worthy of the respect I’d previously earned, that I hated women, that I was a terrible person, that I wanted to see Donald Trump win?

They said forget all that, let’s run the candidate with twenty-five years of baggage, a tenuous ability at best to relate to the vast majority of Americans on a simple level of understanding what their day to day lives are like, some legitimately questionable decisions from standpoints of ethics and judgement, and an existence as an entrenched and participating member of the existing status quo power structure – a power structure that is the source of the very frustration that the Democratic party was trying to maintain, a power structure that has failed the people time and again, even in the midst of significant successes.

Barack Obama’s biggest regret will be compromising with the ACA rather than going to the carpet for universal health care. If he’d passed that, the Democrats would have held the white house and both houses of Congress for the next twelve years. I respect President Obama greatly, I consider him the greatest president of my lifetime by far and quite probably the greatest of this century, but he’s no more infallible than you or I, and he dropped the ball on this and a few other things.

There is only one way to end hate and bigotry, which are entirely what is driving everything wrong with this country, from racism to class warfare to our failure after all this time to accept the basic proposition that women, too, are human beings, and that is through education. I don’t just mean the education of going to school, I mean the education of knowing people, of meeting other human beings and sharing in their experiences and understanding who they are and where they come from.

Many of you know that I can be quite the showman and also that I can be quite loquaciously angry with people I perceive to be bullies or champions of ignorance, hate, and fear. I believe there is a time for those things, and I am sure you’ll have opportunity to see me engage with those people.  Many of them are in the halls of power, and they have not been listening to me.

They have not been listening to us.

That’s going to change, and it starts changing right here and now.

I’ve got a big mouth and a bad attitude when I want to.  I’m not arrogant enough to say I can’t be pushed around – I’m not suicidal – but it’s not easy.  I can be the most laid back guy in the room, and I can get in faces and raise my voice and command – rather than demand – attention, and I can go anywhere in between depending on what the situation calls for.

I can speak clearly and firmly in the best interests of people like you and me who are just trying to have a decent life being happy by doing what we enjoy to the best of our abilities, and leave something nice behind for the kids.

I’m asking you to trust me to do that in the halls of power by putting me in them and by lending your voices to mine by way of support and ultimately your vote, and thereby allowing my voice to be your megaphone.

Part of the reason I want to do that is so *you don’t have to.* Let me and my big mouth and bad attitude stand up and scream for you both at and within the halls of power, add your voice to mine to send a cleansing shout through the institutions of America.  We have learned difficult lessons, and we will continue to learn as long as the world turns, and it’s time for us to take our next big steps forward.

I’m used to taking the punches – anyone who’s been on my facebook page over the last several years and watched basically the entire group of left-leaning Facebook page and group owners do everything they could to take me out has seen that, and they’ve managed to cap me around 4K for the last few years. And I lose people, too, because I’m not in the business of validating every bandwagon that shows up just because it says “liberal” or “democrat” or “occupy” on it.

I firmly believe that bullshit is bullshit, whether it’s in my pasture or yours.  I’ve had enough of the bullshit, and so have you, and those of you who know me whether you love me or hate me know one thing beyond dispute:  I don’t bullshit.

I don’t believe that bigots and racists don’t know they’re wrong. I don’t believe that homophobes and misogynists don’t know they’re wrong. But there are enough of them that they can rely on social validation as a substitute for any reasoned defensibility of their behavior towards other human beings. We have to start saying, out loud, that no, that isn’t acceptable.

You can not be both a good person and a bigot, not in 2016, not in America. You cannot simultaneously claim the moral high ground and continue to support institutions and individuals who promote hate and ignorance and aggression and fear.

We know better, but some of us are afraid of that change, of giving up the power of privilege.  It’s even reasonable in a warped way; you don’t want someone to take away what you have, regardless of how much you earned it or whether you really have any right to it.  And for a while it seemed like that was finally dying off, that the people who so desperately wanted to remain in that world simply because it’s the only one they know and they’re afraid of any other were enlightening and moving forward.

And then this happened. Sixty million people voted for Donald J. Trump.

It’s easy to be angry at those people, and I am. My daughter has identified publicly as part of the LGBT community since she was in middle school, and sixty million people just voted to put a man who wants to electrocute the gay out of her one heartbeat away from the big chair.

I have beautiful, wonderful, loving friends who are Muslim and Christian and gay and straight and neither and both and yes, even right-wing trailer-dwelling rednecks.  Many of those friends are living in legitimate mortal fear of the consequences of the 2016 US Election.  We can’t sustain that.

It’s time for you to heal with each other and get to know each other. I’m used to being on the outside looking in, and I’ve known and experienced so many of your lives and trials already. I’ve got the big mouth and bad attitude where it’s needed; let’s get to figuring out where it’s best put to work soonest in the public sphere, and you beautiful folks get back to the process of knowing and understanding and talking to and with each other.

Finally I’ll note that there is a LOT of humility to be had and crow to be eaten throughout the spectrum.

None of us are innocent of our transgressions and our ignorances, including me; this election, if nothing else, proved that beyond any question.

It’s time we face them like grownups before we don’t have the chance anymore.

I’ve been doing that for about the last fifteen years. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t do this a long time ago; I wasn’t fit for it in the least before I was 30, and it’s taken me this long to get to a place in my life where I know with certainty that I’ve overcome my own transgressions and ignorance.

I have practice at working through parts of yourself you don’t even want to admit are there. I can help guide and empower that process of healing and growth if I have a sufficient platform, both by promoting it at every turn and by serving as the surrogate for your frustration so you don’t have to yell at each other anymore.

Now, I’m exploring the best way to accomplish that, and we’re starting from zero, and all of you folks who have asked over the years, or even agreed with someone else asking, or who are interested in engaging this outrageous situation we call America directly with me as the spearhead, are eagerly welcomed.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

  • If you are a socialist at heart don’t bother, that train wreck is going to be cleaned up, the swamp drained. The governor of MN said if you don’t like it, move… well if that attitude is good for the socialists it is time for complete reciprocity. Vermont may be the last place socialists are welcome… a perfect zoo for them too. Not sure you are a socialist… George Bernard Shaw, a revered saint of socialism wrote, “Socialism is the same as Communism, only better… Socialism means equality of income or nothing… under socialism you would not be allowed to be poor. You would be forcibly fed, clothed, lodged, taught, and employed whether you like it or not. If it were discovered that you had not character enough to be worth all this trouble, you might possibly be executed in a kindly manner; but whilst you were permitted to live you would have to live well.”

    It is time to drain the swamp. If you find GBS love of socialism… or you think it has changed for the better…. BOHICA

    • Awesome, I’ve not even decided which office to run for, and you’ve decided to vote against me.

      Congratulations on being part of the problem. Now shut up and get out of my way, the adults have work to do.

      • Typical fascist response. Please run. Your money is good.

        • So you clearly don’t understand the words “socialism” or “fascism.” Is there any other means by which you’d like to provide a case study in what needs to go away if we’re going to survive as a species?

  • NB: Welcoming your thoughts doesn’t mean I’ll be polite in responding to them if they’re ignorant, hateful, or a demonstration of the same ignorant bullshit that elected President Trump, like a psychotic hatred for a word you don’t understand (see: “socialism.”) I’m running for public office, not public best friend or public ass-kisser. Those days are past now.