In 2016 I read a story in the Star Tribune in which it was reported that there are hundreds of local offices in the state where there are either no candidates running, or no candidates to challenge incumbents.
Thinking this must be a new phenomenon I didn’t have to go very far back to find another Star Tribune article from 2014 reporting, essentially, the same concern: Not enough people to run for open seats and fewer people willing to run and challenge incumbents for others.
We live in a day and age where it is extremely easy to criticize, denigrate, threaten, pressure and otherwise humiliate and disrespect anyone.
We see it nearly every day from our President and his allies who use social media as a blunt instrument of political terror against anyone who disagrees with him or them on anything big or small.
Yet, the President didn’t invent this troubling form of intimidation – it is a by-product of social media.
Nor did the President invent attacking, in particular, politicians who disagree with his point of view on the world or the size of his hands or his huge memory.
Americans have been doing that since the beginning of time.
It’s easy to pick on politicians. Sometimes they do some pretty stupid things.
It is almost an American pastime to complain about politicians. I know that it isn’t something that is unique to America, either.
People around the world have had a historic disdain and dislike for politicians of nearly every kind.
In my life I have worked with so many politicians I am now at a point that there are more of them than there are strands of hair on my head.
I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing people. Some horrible people. And, some outright stupid people.
Yet, even the horrible and stupid people began the process of getting involved in politics and government for nearly all the same reason: They wanted to make a difference in their world.
We live in a 24/7/365 world of where information has lost heft and gravitas and has simply become a steady diet of noise.
In that noise we are compelled to believe, despite the facts, that the world is coming apart and that at no time in history have things even been so bad.
The world isn’t coming apart and at no time in history have things ever been so good for more people on this planet.
It doesn’t mean that it is good enough or that it is good at all for more people on this planet.
What it does mean is that we need politicians who are committed to be a part of the solution to those challenges facing our world and capable of finding ways to take advantage of the opportunities to make the world a better place for everybody on the planet.
What is true about the news that exists out there in every form imaginable is that people are walking away from their institutions. They are abandoning the notion that public office is an important part of public service.
There’s a lot of reasons why.
And, not enough room for me to articulate those reasons.
So, in these 48 hours before Tuesday’s elections let me simply say: “Thank you.”
· Thank you to the men and women who put themselves out there as candidates for public office and those who are in public office.
· Thank you for going door-to-door to introduce yourself to people who would rather talk to the IRS than talk to you.
· Thank you for meeting with activists in your party who want you to do this and do that or not gain their support.
· Thank you for having the courage to vote against what I care about even if you know it’s going to annoy, anger and frustrate me.
· Thank you for voting what I care about even if you know it’s going to annoy, anger and frustrate someone else.
· Thank you for taking the risk and making the sacrifice to do what far too many Americans are no longer willing to do.
· Thank you for being in the arena. For facing the fear of being criticized and judged and called every name that exists on a Google search on the internet.
· Thank you for believing in your ability to make a difference in the world.
· Thank you for being an ordinary person willing to do extraordinary things for someone else.
· Thank you for having an ego and thank you for having humility.
· Thank you for going to debates and candidate forums that make you weary, for the late nights reading emails and letters and listening to your staff tell you why your neighbors think you’re a moron.
· Thank you for missing family functions, straining to make your finances work and constituents who think you literally are at their beck and call any day or night.
· Thank you for believing that you can make a difference for your family and for mine.
Thank you for believing in democracy.
Thank you for believing in your community.
Thank you for believing in America.