It’s obvious our current crop of “representatives” has little interest in actually representing us.
Fortunately, the 2020 elections provide opportunities to change that. If your interest in political activism goes beyond making donations or volunteering to phone bank, I’ve got a bold proposition for you: It’s time to run for office yourself.
“But I might lose,” you say.
You should run anyway.
— No candidate should run unopposed.
A number of races in 2018 and 2019 went uncontested. It’s no wonder turnout is typically under 50 percent — people feel like they have no real choice at the ballot box, so they don’t bother.
— Get an in-depth lesson in state and local politics.
I know I’m not the only person who fondly remembers “the crayon factory video” from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The clip shows the process of making Crayola crayons from start to finish. Running a campaign is similar: It’ll teach you how the (political) crayons are made.
— Other impossible candidates have campaigned in impossible districts — and won.
If you don’t believe me, a state legislative seat in Idaho, Kansas’s new governor, Virginia’s new state assembly and a city council in Columbus, Indiana would all like to have a word with you.
If you’re still skeptical, I can get you contact information for several freshmen legislators in the Idaho statehouse.
— Develop new skills and hone existing ones.
Public speaking, writing, networking, fundraising, budgeting and leadership — all marketable skills, all gained in the trenches of a political campaign.
— Clarify your own beliefs.
You’ll have to explain them, repeatedly, to curious (and often skeptical) voters. Not only will you come out better knowing what you stand for, but you’ll have ideas of how to turn them into public policy.
— Give a voice to someone else who feels they can’t speak.
Any campaign comes with a significant amount of financial and social risk many people can’t afford to take. As a candidate, you shoulder that risk on their behalf.
— Inspire others to engage with local politics.
Your example of doing hard and scary things can inspire others to pay closer attention and become engaged citizens themselves. Better engagement leads to better government.
— Learn more about your neighbors.
Find out what works, what doesn’t and what people like or dislike. Those are the building blocks of public policy. Bonus: You’ll find yourself with a circle of new friends and colleagues.
— Learn more about yourself.
And in ways you don’t expect. It’s cheesy but true: This one is why you always come out winning, regardless of the final poll numbers.
— You might win!
File a declaration of candidacy by March 13. Talk to us about it when the Bonneville County Democrats meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Idaho Falls Public Library.