Why did I run? #campaignchronicles

NOTE: This is the first installment in a series on my campaign for Congress. See the introduction to the series here.

Why run?

The 2012 Goshen County Fair

I asked myself this question before, during, and since the campaign.

You have to be a little crazy.

Maybe “crazy” is strong. But you do have to be a little bit crazy to run for office. There is much to be lost and a very small chance of gain. Yep, I am just crazy enough.

I was comfortable putting myself out there. As a teacher and a blogger, I had always been an open book. Turns out that politicians are not supposed to do that.

In some sense, the thing that makes running for office crazy is the extent to which one is voluntarily making oneself vulnerable to attack. I have never had hate mail before. I have never been attacked for things that I never did or said before.

I had no way of knowing how the campaign would impact my life. However, if I knew what I know now I would not have done it. The costs were too much for both myself and my family. But it is too late for that. It is over. We are making the most of the positives that did come out of the campaign.

Would I do it again? Not likely. Definitely not in Wyoming. Am I glad I did? Yes. It was meant to be.

Belief in Congress as an institution.

I believe in the possibility of representative democracy. I am of the tradition of Rousseau. Congress could be a great example of deliberation in the making of law. This is what it was intended to be. It is obviously failing in grand fashion to live up to this potential and it is getting worse.

Partisan cheerleaders like Representative Cynthia Lummis are a prime example of why Congress is failing. That is likely not going to change anytime soon. However, I can now say that I tried.

I ran out of a belief that the United States and Wyoming could do better. Was I the better alternative? Oh, probably not. But nobody else was going to do anything about it.

Nobody else was going to do it.

The Democratic Party of Wyoming had no intention of running anyone against Rep. Lummis. They did not want anyone to do so and many of the power brokers were and still are annoyed that I did.

However, I was not and never was in politics to be a foot soldier for any party. The politicians that I have most admired at different levels have been willing to buck the party structure.

These people include my early mentor Todd Hammond.

Todd Hammond was a religion professor at Ricks College (Now BYU-Idaho). I wrote about his decision to run for State House while writing for the Ricks College Scroll back in 1998 and then volunteered a bit for his campaign. He angered the local GOP by running against the sitting incumbent. They told him to volunteer and put his time in. He ignored there advice and defeated the incumbent in the primary.

The goal of the party power structure is always to protect the party power structure. Like, Todd Hammond, I was not part of my party power structure. I still am not. I would never want to be.

I have always wanted to.

From a young age, I had thought that I would run for office. I have always liked politics. However, during my senior year of college I started to move away from practical politics and toward political philosophy. I had decided to be a teacher and a gadfly.

When I decided to run in 2012, I was motivated by the open path to the nomination. Nobody else wanted it. I also felt a need to take a more active step. I could articulate positions on federal issues. I had spent my adult life in the West and I figured that I could craft a campaign that would be successful. I would be different. At least, I thought I could be in my mind.

Of course, I had no money. That never really changed.

Successful candidates spend years shaping their image and raising large amounts of cast. I was different. I was not going to be a traditional politician, I was just going to be a different type of gadfly.

NEXT IN THE CAMPAIGN CHRONICLES SERIES: Introducing myself to the Party.

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About Chris Henrichsen

Chris Henrichsen has moved Approaching Justice off of Patheos. Find his latest posts and the new Approaching Justice. Thanks!

  • Adam Anderson

    Hey Chris, great post! I’m also a Mormon and a moderate Democrat. As someone that would like to run for political office someday, I’ve always wondered what it must be like to be LDS and run as a Democrat. I enjoyed following your campaign and am excited to read more of your “campaign chronicles!”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

      Thanks, Adam!

      I will have separate posts on the reaction of both Mormons and Democrats to my campaign. Some positive and some negative from both groups.


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