I gotta say, even at the risk of sounding bombastic, I am FIRED UP after hearing President Obama’s inauguration speech. One phrase in particular popped out at me: “Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” ACTION! So why is it that simply declaring an interest in improvement via our country’s political process seems to get people all hot under the collar? Why does it feel audacious to even say I am considering it?
I spent this past Saturday at a training day for Progressive Majority, a group that helps prepare potential candidates wishing to run for office. Just getting there was half the battle: I had to rely on two grandmas to take care of 3-year-old George and my husband, who recently had ACL surgery. I could have gone skiing. I could have just sat in a cafe and read a book. But no. Sometimes I wonder what it is inside me that is never able to just settle and rest. And sometimes I wish I could just cut that part out.
So thirty other individuals like myself also spent a whole Saturday in a cold Carpenter’s Hall in Renton in order to understand how one goes from caring about issues to legislating them. And what made me laugh as soon as I arrived is that they all looked like teachers: politely and earnestly dressed, mainly middle-aged, diverse in both gender and ethnicity. And it was a lot like a typical staff meeting: lots of acronyms, an assumed knowledge base and low quality of snacks. I mention snacks because it is the main reason why I am jealous of my friends who work in corporate America. I love good snacks. And I have never worked in a job where snacks are subsidized. I have spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking about how much better teaching would be if we only had good snacks.
I was actually really excited to meet one of the day’s speakers, Noel Frame. She ran this past November for the 36th District, and despite securing the vote of the PLP early on, she lost. I know – shocking. She is an active proponent for quality education for all WA state children. She primarily spoke about the necessity and art of fundraising, which made me want to throw a toddler-style tantrum.
Anyone who has ever even thought about going into politics knows it is all about fundraising. Like, ALL about fundraising. And as a person who identifies with wallflowers and was known for bringing books to frat parties in college, the idea of approaching anyone – much less strangers – for money makes me literally shudder. It brings out this deep-seated, youngest-child rebellious feeling in me, like I am going to be different. I’ll be the first candidate ever to win without spending money. It physically pains me that America wastes such a vast quantity of money on elections.
But I have to think about it in a different way. I have to think about the fact that someone is going to raise that money, and possibly further an agenda that I do not believe is the right course for our state or country. And if it isn’t me, who is it? To whom am I entrusting with my child’s future?
To some extent, I am putting the cart before the horse – because I still have no idea what I should run for. I think there should be an app where someone could take their primary interest and skill set (say, me and education), show what they are qualified for and what’s available when, and then how you actually get there. My generation loves apps. Our government needs to get on the app bandwagon. If any of my charming readers happen to know where I could find this information, I’d love to hear about it. I’ll end by quoting our president one more time: “It is our generation’s task to carry on what [our] pioneers began.”
C’mon everyone! Get fired up!