Lately, many people have been asking me what my intentions are this political year. After the incredible support I received as a write-in in 2012, I initially had no doubt I would run in the primary this year. As time has passed, I have officially put myself in the “undecided” category in seeing what other developments come about in the races.
Let’s be real. I will not have the time to fundraise the money that many of the other candidates have. I am not an attorney or a business owner. With the job that I have, I can’t just go out and campaign. Of course, with the state of the Democratic Party in Tennessee, one has to wonder if you even need to fundraise to win a nomination (didn’t Mark Clayton just have one sign?). If I decide to enter the primary, I will probably not do much fundraising, if any. I will go with a word-of-mouth campaign and use social media and try to get a little press attention.
If I run, it will be out of a passion for the issues that I care about: society and education. So far, the other candidates have put out little, if any platforms. Education is a “hot” issue in Tennessee, yet I have seen nothing about their views on vouchers, school choice, teacher pay, student testing, and education reform in general. Where are these guys on abortion rights? Gender equality? Where are these guys on marriage equality? If they are for it, they sure aren’t admitting to it. One of the “leading” Senate candidates does not even mention his party affiliation anywhere on his website.
I realize our state is divided. In running around some of the political circles in Nashville, I have seen that many Democrats don’t even want to discuss marriage equality and education reform because many Democrats in the state are divided. I understand they are trying to “play it safe”, but we can’t make progress if we are afraid to discuss our true viewpoints.
We are at a tipping point in education in Tennessee. Our students are over-tested. Our teachers are severely underpaid. Our teacher evaluation system is a messy “work in progress”. School vouchers will only hurt public schools more. Local school systems deserve the right to approve or disapprove of new charter schools. Charter schools have an important role in the state (many of them do great work), but there should not be a rubberstamp approval process. Zoned and neighborhood schools should have quality teachers and funding. If we are going to have our students testing to higher standards, schools need the technology, facilities, and resources to be successful. Right now, many places do not have these. Low test scores will be the result of poor resources. These issues are not just Tennessee issues, but issues that are making waves all around the country. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Marriage equality is a no-brainer. It is the defining social rights issue of this generation. We need to be on the correct side of this. People should have the right to marry the person they love, regardless of gender. More politicians in Tennessee should make their voices heard on this.
If we improve education and social equality, we will attract more businesses to Tennessee. This will create more jobs and improve the economy. Again, it is a no-brainer.
I know all of you have known where I stand on these issues since 2012, but I find it extremely frustrating that the candidates in the races now aren’t addressing any of these items. Democrats are playing it too safe. The only way Democrats will be successful in Tennessee is if we say what we truly believe in. More voters will come to the polls and change will happen. We can’t allow things to stay as they are or this state will not progress in the right direction. Are we not tired of being a punch-line on Jon Stewart each time a local politician says something completely ignorant?
So what should I do? If I run, it will be my last Senate run (unless a huge life change happens). I have no intention of being one of those perennial candidates. I do have interests in smaller, local races down the road that are, quite frankly, more winnable and that I do intend on exploring in future election cycles. However, many people have approached me about running this time telling me that now is the time to try to get this nomination, especially with the issues that are at stake. A few others have suggested running as an Independent or trying to get with a third party so I can be on the November ballot. I am more inclined to do the primary run, but I am open to suggestions.
Please take a moment to send me an email and share your opinions with me whether positive or negative. I am very interested in what you think and have to say. My inclination to explore this race has to do with important issues that simply are not being addressed by the other candidates. If this changes, I am open to the idea of supporting one of them. In the meantime, what should I do? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a conversation about it. Also, follow me on Twitter if you don't already. I promise most of my Tweets aren't all-business all the time.