Month 8 in Evan Falchuk’s diary of his Independent campaign for Governor of MassachusettsAny campaign for public office is busy, I’d guess, but I didn’t realize quite how busy until I began running as an independent in Massachusetts.
It’s an understatement to say it’s been a busy year in my independent campaign for governor of Massachusetts. We’ve hired 20 full-time staff and interns, brought on board hundreds of volunteers, raised some money, met with thousands of voters in more than 90 cities and towns, and are working hard to steadily become an increasingly noticeable part of the political conversation.
(You can visit www.Falchuk2014.org to check in on progress made on the campaign trail)
But as important as this progress is -- and make no mistake, for an independent campaign, these are serious milestones -- what strikes me is how much these efforts are really about something greater.
I was talking to a voter in northeastern Massachusetts last Sunday at an event. She told me she was in her 50s, and had been politically active throughout her life. She was used to being able to look to political leaders for some way of explaining what was wrong, what needed to be done, and how to do it.
Today, far too many of those leaders didn’t seem to have a clue about what to do anymore.
“It feels,” she said, “like we’ve reached some kind of a tipping point in our country – and I’m worried about it.”
In a climate where Gallup recently showed a record 60 percent of Americans calling for the creation of a viable third party, her feelings likely are shared by many.
Journalist Ron Fournier has written extensively on the attitudes of people under 40 when it comes to being involved in important causes. In studying the data and interviewing young people across the country, he found that high percentages of them are involved in volunteering, mentoring, and giving to charity. They report that helping others gives their lives purpose and meaning.However, when Fournier would ask these same people if they ever considered politics as a way to find that same kind of meaning, his subjects generally laughed --
We face a great challenge. The institutions that provide the foundation for our country are deeply troubled. They are stuck, and crumbling, and populated by leaders who are failing to provide the selfless, inspiring leadership we dearly need. Meanwhile, that next generation doesn’t see politics as a way to reverse these problems.
How do we bridge that gap? How do we get new, smart, thoughtful people to become political leaders, and start to restore the faith and confidence people must have in our government for it to work?
If you want to solve any problem, the most important thing to do is clearly define what is wrong. What’s missing from politics today is an avenue for idealistic, smart, thoughtful people to become part of getting us out of the rut that the two parties have put us in.
The belief, however, is that the only way to become a political leader is to work your way up through the party system -- to make all the compromises of principle and conscious that you must -- in order to perhaps, one day, be selected as a candidate for office. It’s an offer that doesn’t interest very many people -- indeed, the majority of races for state legislature in Massachusetts don’t even have any opposition.In creating a new political party in Massachusetts, and running for governor, I am taking a step -- perhaps a small one, perhaps a very big one -- to making that future a reality. When I look forward to what the political landscape of Massachusetts will look like in only a few years, I see something that is very different from what is here today.
We can have strong, thoughtful, independent representatives in our legislature -- and in a few years we will have many. We can have a new kind political debate in our state, dominated by what’s right, not by what is politically expedient. I can tell you it is already starting to happen. The kind of future I’m talking about isn’t far-fetched, but is something we are building – now, here, every day, all across our state.
And so, as we start the countdown toward Election Day this fall, I am more confident and hopeful than ever before. We are bringing a new sense of purpose to an otherwise routine state election. Yes, voters want to be respected, listened to, and understood. But, we all want something much greater than that -- to mean something. A movement to truly change the course of our politics is what we all want, and this much is clear: we are on the right track, and the train is rolling out of the station.