Many years ago when I was a junior in high school, I needed to earn a letter in one more sport before I could earn my coveted Varsity Club Jacket. Back in the days of high school, next to owning your own car, the varsity club jacket was a symbol of success.
You are, no doubt asking yourself, why this trip down memory lane? Well, bear with me for a few quick paragraphs and I’ll get to that point shortly.
My goal to get the jacket was purely a selfish motive on my part. To be awarded the jacket I had to letter in three different varsity sports before my senior year. Spring time sports were limited at our school, so I had to pick the sport and the competition at the position or in my case in the event in which I felt I could excel.
I decided my best chance to get that letter was in track, running the dreaded two mile race. I was not a distance runner. I wasn’t fast enough for the sprints or huddles. Not strong enough for the pole vault or shot-put, but I was tough enough to gut out the long distance race in order to place at least third in enough meets to get my letter. You see there wasn’t much competition at the two mile event. It wasn’t all that glamorous running around the track 8 times with your tongue hanging out while other competitors lounged around the inner track waiting for the more fashionable events to take place.
My decision to seek that role was not based in my deep rooted desire to do well for my school or team. It was purely personal and strictly about my desire to own the jacket.
So with that thought in mind I wonder if there is any correlation between my motives way back then and why we see folks from outside our political districts relocating to our communities to seek office. Our areas don’t hold great prestige. As a member of our editorial board wrote last week on this subject…. “We are older than the rest of the country. We’re losing more people. We’re sicker, poorer and less educated. Public services – are crumbling into dust”. So why does someone who doesn’t sleep here or spend their lives here among us want to represent our views in Washington, D.C.?
There must be a driving motive that caused them to wake up one day and say to themselves, “Hey I want to go represent, those poor, sick, less educated people, up north, where many of their own are moving away and their infrastructure is crumbling around them!”
Do you think that was the motive or do you think they looked at the game board that makes up the political districts and thought, along with perhaps a little persuasion from political operatives, where do I have the best opportunity to land a gig in congress?
I’ve not had the opportunity to meet any of the so called “carpetbagger candidates” running for office yet, but I must confess I do question their motives for seeking these positions. Unlike the Denton Editorial Board, I do think your roots are an important bond with the people you represent. Are we just a stepping stone in there calculated political careers? Do these candidates have a deep rooted love for this rural area and seek to make a name for themselves by giving voice and bringing opportunity to our region of the country? Let me make this clear, not being from here should not disqualify them, but I think it’s very important that we know their motivation for seeking the position and what they see as their long term political and personal aspirations.
Skepticism aside, these may be talented people who perhaps can change the way of Washington politics, but I’m not interested in being a stepping stone to boost the career of someone who seeks a permanent and lucrative lifestyle in Washington. I want to know that the person seeking my vote has my best interests at heart, not theirs.
My other fear, regarding candidates not rooted in the district they hope to represent, is the outside influences from PACs and political parties who will flow extensive dollars from outside the district to insure their hand picked candidate is elected. I know this is a political reality, but when my elected representative has greater loyalty to those outside the district, just who are they really representing and exactly where to do their loyalties lie?
This country faces many serious problems and we need serious candidates who are committed to resolve those problems rather than those who want to join the Washington elite party and follow the established trends set by the partisan leadership. We need elected officials who are able to lean on real life personal experiences in the private sector to guide them through the political maze in Washington. In the end, to this standard, every candidate must be held accountable.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.