You Should Be a Candidate

I was a skeptic about Gawker’s recent refocus on politics, but I’ve enjoyed what they’ve done so far. This piece, by Tom Scocca, is the best political piece that I’ve read there:

You can run for office, too. Yes, you. Why not? Why worry about how to send a message as a passive consumer of politics, when you can be an active participant? Democracy isn’t people arguing about how best to vote between foreordained options. Democracy is people running for office. You are a person.

Scocca’s mainly agitating for people to run for Congress, and primarily in places where candidates are uncontested, but it’s true on every level. Politics works better when more people are involved. The conservative side of the spectrum enjoys a full complement of potential candidates, from the humblest of local posts to the highest office in the land. Until we see more progressive volunteers, we’re not going to get the kind of progressive candidates that we need.

Speaking of running for office, the newest episode of former Mayor Mike McGinn’s podcast, You, Me, Us, Now features an interview with three first-time city council candidates who lost their races. Michael Maddux, Tammy Morales, and Jon Grant discuss the various problems they encountered as they tried to face off against better-funded candidates. It’s an interesting conversation, and it also makes clear the fact that none of these candidates are polished, perfect robots who come from some political factory somewhere. They’re people, same as you and me, and they care enough about the way things are going to take a stand. That’s all it takes. As these candidates proved, you don’t have to win to cause change——sometimes getting involved is all it takes to help alter the conversation.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.