Why I Am Here and What I Pledge to You
"Why are you even bothering to run? You're twenty-three years old!"
This is a perfectly understandable point that some folks may raise in response to what I am trying to do here. It is for this reason that I would like to begin by telling you the story of why I am running despite a guarantee of losing.
Here's what gives me my passion:
I am running because I feel, overwhelmingly so, that it is a duty of Americans to work to fix those things in our system that are currently broken. I have a message that I believe in and one that transcends age groups, partisan divides, and any other cross-sectional designations one can imagine. The message is premised on the following four theories:
What we have today is a system where our elected officials make decisions based on elections rather than citizens electing officials based on decisions. This has resulted in a startling decline in Americans’ perceptions of the government’s ability to work for them and the degree to which they can have control over their own destinies. Ultimately this contributes to the current climate of hyper-partisanship.
Due to the first observation, the quality of candidates for Congress and President alike have been declining in terms of their sense of genuineness. This is reflected in the stonewalling constituents receive upon answering questions, the half-truth attacks lobbed from candidate to candidate, and the lack of consistent views out of candidates despite what polls indicate.
Elections have come to be utterly dominated by campaign finance to a point where the quality of a candidate – and said candidate’s commitment to the people – becomes overshadowed by their bank account, cash-on-hand, and ability to fundraise. Conversations about quarterly fundraising hauls have supplanted substantive questions about policies designed to advance the well-being and opportunity of Americans.
A solution to the problems identified in the first three bullet-points is a commitment by elected officials to adopt good-governance practices if elected, to make specific commitments regarding constituent access, and to include as a part of policy platforms the ways in which they intend to increase citizen efficacy.
With these in mind, the message goes: I am running, dedicating my time and personal resources to this cause, not because of a self-serving hunger for power – I cannot even hold the office – but rather, because of a deeply held belief that it is my duty as an American citizen to exercise my rights and to use my abilities to offer a starting-point solution to the problems I’ve noticed – those listed above. Running, to me, is the best way to give voice to this issue and to remind all Americans that our voices are what matters most.
In terms of method, I believe that the vast majority of politicians today speak two languages – elections and polling – and that the best way we have to communicate a message to them is on their own turf – in the electoral arena. If we can meet them where they prefer to be by gaining even minor support for a candidacy so far out of the norm, then we can communicate to them the following points:
That American citizens want increased access to their officials and to the democratic processes of lawmaking and law executing;
That they are not hopeful that the current slate of established candidates can deliver that; and
That they need to see concrete policy platforms adopted by major candidates before deciding to support a candidate that can actually hold the office.
As foolhardy as it may seem, I genuinely believe that if enough folks support my, perhaps quixotic, campaign, then polling can reflect that to a point where major candidates take notice of the sentiment that they otherwise would not have an incentive to acknowledge.
I am excited for the opportunity to carry forth this message and I hope that I can earn your trust and respect and count you among those who share my vision. To this end, I pledge the following to you:
I pledge to always listen to and engage with any and all stakeholder groups. Representation is the bedrock of democracy and I pledge to lead in a manner that respects the perspectives of all groups and the agency of all individuals. This goes to my first theory and first point above.
I pledge to be direct in my engagements with the American people. If asked a question, then you can expect to receive an on-point answer. That is how normal human beings engage with each other in their day-to-day lives and there is no reason that government servants should depart from that norm. This goes to my second theory and third point above.
I pledge to work towards an amendment to our Constitution that places clear, reasonable, and enforceable limits on campaign finance donations. As it stands, I firmly believe that the act of donating money is a protected act of speech, but that does not mean that it has led to positive outcomes. By pursuing an amendment to our Constitution, we can take the issue of campaign finance out of the courts and put it back into the hands of the people. This goes to my third theory above.
I pledge to work towards legislation enhancing constituent access to legislators and executive officials via transparency and accessibility measures. Our governmental institutions should not be a black box, the processes of which are invisible to the citizenry. To the fullest extent practicable, I will work towards opening the doors of government to increased citizen participation. This goes to my first and fourth theories and my third point above.
Lastly, I pledge to work tirelessly for each and every American citizen. I will consider my work to be a failure if it does not result in the uplifting of every single citizen of this great Nation. We have been gifted by our ancestors opportunity unparalleled in human history. I define success not by how high the highest go - and let it be to heights never before seen - but by what we do for those who thought they had been forgotten, for the voiceless among us. This pledge is to put every ounce of grit, energy, and skill that I have into delivering the bounty of our freedoms and spoils of our liberties to all. This goes to who I am as a person and to who I will be as a leader.