Greetings from the down ticket! That’s the first level of representation alongside city officials. That’s not meant to be a self-deprecating comment, nor is it meant to diminish the importance of state and local government; it is simply where the office of a State Representative resides in the matrix of elections.
At the top are the presidential candidates, of course, followed by the United States Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington. Governorships would be of equal stature, followed then by the State Senate and the State House.
Politicians running for a seat in Washington are at 30,000 feet, raising insane amounts of money, to yield insane media coverage, to create awareness as insanely as possible. Whereas, in a state race we are in the trenches, going door to door, handshake to handshake, to literally eyeball our constituents hoping to inspire their support.
The up ticket does that too, mostly for photo ops, to appear as connected, but here at the city and state level we are the true Retail Politicians. Our issues are ones that connect people more closely with the lives they hope to lead. We aren’t necessarily talking about Foreign Policy, Federal Income Tax, or the EPA, but we are talking about Education Funding, Clean Water, Building Roads, Creating Jobs, and Access to Medicine while drawing straight lines to our communities. I like it here.
Knocking on doors is an experience everyone should have, yet almost no one reading this ever will. It is, admittedly, a bit unnatural going door to door asking people to support you. It was a lot more comfortable as a Boy Scout selling magazine subscriptions because there was a product other than oneself and a cause that few people would argue with; namely helping a young person achieve a goal. But, few people get up in the morning, or go out to the garage to do some cleaning, hoping that a politician will come by at any moment. As one of those “politicians” it is incumbent upon me, therefore, to be as engaging as the intrusion will allow, or as brief, yet effective, as a handshake can muster.
I enjoy the process and can honestly say that meeting people is something I’ve always embraced, but politics create a plenitude of reactions, some of which are challenging. Yet I’ve always found people to be quite friendly by nature, even those predisposed not to support me because of party lines, will smile, shake my hand and say “Thanks for stopping by.” Supporters are also often brief, but occasionally someone will really want to talk for awhile about a specific issue. The candidate must be equal part ears and eyes.
As we head into the last 2 months of campaigning, I can feel lines being drawn. Yard signs are going up defining party turf and rhetoric is solidifying as ideological shields for the battle. The reactions at doors are becoming more defined, as well.
While I can honestly say that I am greatly encouraged by the majority of people I meet who are interested in my candidacy or who outright support me, there will be the occasional door that shuts with: “You’re that Hollywood Liberal!” and yesterday I was told that I am “a Hillary Democrat” as the door closed. Well….labels are just shortcuts to make the process of elections a little easier to deal with. The contradiction is that no label can accurately define anyone and when we tag a politician with such a confinement, we take a step away from knowing who they really are.
I don’t line up perfectly with any label that I’ve heard. I was not shy, for example, in my support of Bernie Sanders, particularly on the grounds of countering the oligarchic policies that are destroying the middle class and the opportunity for prosperity for most Americans, and I will continue to express myself in that regard. I am also not shy about being a Democrat who aligns with traditional liberal ideologies of civil justice and equality. But I look at every issue individually and go as deeply as I can to consider how it will benefit or detract from what I believe is best for the world my children will inherit.
Is that a Hollywood Liberal? Sure. It’s also a lot of other people from other places, including right here in Iowa. It is also, quite simply, an American who cares deeply about the engagement of ideas and the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness for us all.
Meanwhile, look for me if you’re out cleaning the garage.