I am a candidate for the Red Wing City Council in 2016. When I am introduced as such and people ask me why I am “running,” I tell them it’s more like I’m walking for the office. One of the heroes of my youth was Minnesota’s Senator Eugene McCarthy. Likewise, Senator McCarthy was a reluctant politician, far more comfortable with academia and the solo lifestyle of a historical and political author. He once said, “I said didn’t want to [be President], but I was willing which is a much stronger commitment than wanting the Presidency.”
The man who wrote one of the best books about what our government should look like--insteaad of what it did look like--titled The Limits of Power, changed everything about how many in my generation felt about what democracy should be. Of course, like many of the idealists who crashed and burned against the Democratic Party’s corporate machine in 2016, we were eventually convinced that the United States was unwilling to be a democracy. Lightweights like Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey grew half-of-a-pair and lightly challenged the no longer standing President Johnson and pretended to have a plan for exiting the war in Vietnam. Nixon and his cronies came up with their “secret plan” to resolve the war, while working behind the scenes to sabotage the Paris Peace Talks that Johnson had made the main objective of what remained of his Presidency. Nixon also set the course for the Republican politicians who would come after him, particularly the Reagan administration which felt justified in dealing directly with Iran to rig the 1980 election. The idea that a Republican congress would do anything to prevent an African-American President from achieving any of his goals to restore the US economy--including costing Americans’ thousands of jobs, homes, security, and savings—isn’t much of a stretch after Nixon’s treasonous example. Eugene McCarthy not only demonstrated honor, duty, humor, and sacrifice in his attempt to enlighten the American public, he taught some of us that there is no such thing as a non-participatory democracy and that every citizen has to make an effort to be part of local and national politics if we ever hope to have a society that is just, decent, and equitable.
So, I’m walking for Red Wing’s city council. If I don’t “win,” it won’t cause me any sort of anguish. Like Senator McCarthy, I have a full and complete life and I despise meetings. If I’m elected it will mean that I have to attend 2 long, tedious meetings a month and do an untold amount of research on every issue the council acts upon. If I’m elected, I will go way out of my comfort zone to talk to people who are involved in and affected by the council’s decisions. I’ll spend my evenings reading city policy documents, contracts, budget details, and becoming familiar with the state and federal guidelines for city government. I am not a Political Science student, a representative of or vested in any special interests, or someone who enjoys public speaking or power and authority. I have more hobbies and interests than I have time to pursue. I have a family that gives me all of the company and relationship time I have patience for, so I’m sure not in this for the attention.