Why I Cannot Run for Office Again

Last year (2014), I took time off from writing to run for local office — specifically, Metro Council. It was a learning experience, a time-consuming experience, a demanding experience … but a great experience. I loved campaigning, I actually enjoyed knocking on doors and meeting people, I even got to where I was okay with the necessary “dialing for dollars.” I knocked on over 6,000 doors, made some new friends, and gave it my best shot.

But I can’t do it again.

Why can I not run for office again? Two words: “advocacy” and “activism.”

On this site, I write about politics (among other things). I try to be fair, I try to be judicious in my words, and I try to push for the good without being mean. For the most part, I think I succeed.

And yet, if we push for the good as we see it, there are going to be people on the other side who are irritated or even angered by what we write. It’s just part of the deal you make when you write about politics, which is why so few active politicians also write. It’s pretty awkward to write something negative about someone’s position on an issue, then later ask them for money or support or endorsement. It can happen — people can disagree and still help each other — but it’s hard. It’s obviously much easier if you’ve only said nice things about everyone, always, forever, amen. <g>

Now comes Progress Louisville, a site that I started a few years ago, shut down while I was running, and that we are about to relaunch. If that site grows to the vision I have for it, it will be a great site for progressives and progressive causes. Many of our elected officials are progressives, and many of them work for progressive causes — but not all are, and not all do, at least not all the time. That’s understandable — but it also means that that site, as well as this one, are going to be crossways with some politicians, some of the time.

Make no mistake: I would love to serve in elected office. I believe with all my heart that it is one of the most valuable things you can do with your life. If there was an opportunity to do it, I would jump at it.

But by writing words and putting them where others can read them; by taking stands that may not always be in line with what the establishment wants; by speaking up for the powerless and ignored … I am pretty sure that support for another run will be a long time coming.

I’m okay with that. This work is what I am called to now, and I intend to answer that call. My most heart-felt goal is to make a difference. I hope that my writing will do that.