My Foray Into Politics and the Resulting Dilemma

February 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I talk a lot about politics.  I have a blog that focuses largely on politics (thanks for reading it).  I read a lot about politics.  Well, I also tried to break into politics and I’m considering giving it a second go.  Unfortunately, it’s left me ill at ease and struggling with what I view as a moral dilemma.

In 2012 I ran for my local Republican committee.  I was seeking election to the position of Committeeman.  This is basically the lowest level of elected political office.  The role is that of “vote-getter”.  Responsibilities include voter registration, staffing the polls on election day, signature collection to get candidates on the ballot, “get out the vote” efforts, door-to-door canvasing and placing all of those political signs that appear everywhere before an election.

At the time when I ran for the position it was vacant, and had been for over a year.  I contacted my county GOP and expressed interest in fulling the vacancy, which can be accomplished by appointment by the GOP county executives.  I had a meeting with the GOP executive responsible for my part of the county which I thought had gone well.  My appointment to the post never came to fruition.  I was told that one of the other GOP executive was blocking it due to a prior disagreement with the executive I was working with.  Thus commenced the politics – the dirty, nasty politics that we all hear about.

With appointment now out, my next option was to campaign for the position, which was up for election that year (had I been appointed I would have needed to campaign for it anyway, but would have had the advantage of being the incumbent – a valuable distinction in a contested race).

In my county the process involves first getting on the ballot.  In order to do that, I had to circulate a petition and obtain a minimum of 10 signatures from other registered Republicans in my voting precinct. The petition has to be filled out precisely, with each signer printing their name, address and then signing.  In place of the city, they had to list their municipality.  Failure to follow these instructions resulted in my ending up with about 4 signatures that I knew would not be admissible.  I think I ended up collecting about 18 signatures total.  After the signatures had been collected, the petition was notarized and turned in to the county Board of Elections.  A few weeks later I received a letter notifying me that the petition had passed muster and that my name would appear on the upcoming ballot.

I was informed by the GOP executive with whom I’d been working that someone else had filed for the same position.  Instead of being a shoo-in for a vacant seat, I now had an actual race to run.  In preparation I designed and printed business card sized cards to hand out at the poll with my information.  I spent the entire day at the polling place greeting people and asking for their votes, all while handing out my card, along with a card for Ron Paul’s GOP delegates for the national convention.

The day of the election was the first I’d met my opponent.  He was a gentleman in his late 40s or early 50s and a well established local business owner.  As someone who’d only lived in the area for a couple of years, with no close ties to the local community, I was out of my league.  I was able to position myself closest to the door, so I was the first person to greet those coming in.  This is supposed to be important, but didn’t seem so much at the time, as my opponent’s friends, customers, and neighbors streamed by.  Most politely listened to my greeting and took my card, and then met my opponent as if meeting a lifelong friend.

I lost that race by a margin of 17 votes – 80 to 63.   I called my opponent the next day to congratulate him and we exchanged information so that he could involve me as an assistant.  I never heard from him again.  I later came to learn that I’d been victim to local politics.  The other GOP executive, who had blocked my appointment had recruited my opponent to run against me.  To this day I’m unsure of the exact reason.  I don’t know if it was retaliation against the executive I was working with, or if someone did some research on me and discovered my libertarian leanings.

As it turned out, it was for the better that I was defeated, as I ended up moving about 6 months later and would have had to relinquish the position as a result.  It was an interesting experience, but one that left a bad taste in my mouth.

Enter 2014.  I’m in a new town and involved in a different Tea Party group.  I’ve been considering taking another crack at the committee.  Recently I found that the position is filled and that the current occupant is of a more liberty-minded persuasion as Republicans go, though not libertarian.  I could challenge him, but that would cause significant waves and possibly create some enemies.  So I met with him at a recent local GOP event and offered to assist.  Thus far, I haven’t heard anything from him.  I’m not sure that is a bad thing.

Here is the plain truth: I hate politics.  For all that I write and talk about politics, I hate it. It’s hard to read the latest political news and it’s hard to find the motivation to write about it. The rate of decline and the level of injustice is depressing.  I don’t know how men of principle like Ron Paul manage to cope with it for as long as he did.  If I get involved with my local committee I’ll have to support candidates who I won’t necessarily support personally, whether going door-to-door collecting signatures to get them on the ballot, canvasing to get votes for them, or working the poll passing out their handbills.  I can’t bring myself to vote for a “lesser evil”, yet in this position my job would be to convince others to.  I’ll also have to deal with the politics and the backroom deals.  The idea makes me feel dirty.  It makes me want to shower with bleach and a steel bristle brush.

In a time when votes are bought with handouts and truth is censored in favor of politically correct slogans designed to pacify the populace how can an honest statesman succeed?  Sure, there are a few, but I can count them on my fingers.  In a country where the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and John McCain get reelected over and over again I have to wonder what our chances really are.

I’m realistic enough to acknowledge the fact that a society without government is unlikely within my lifetime.  The only substantive change I can hope for is a reduction in the size of government.  I could potentially be able to encourage that if I were to get into politics.  But could I stomach the ocean of BS that I’d have to swim through to do it?  I’m not sure.

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