ICYMI: 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!

  • Lyndee

    I strongly believe the it was worth it. The path has been difficult, but the rewards will be worth it in the end. Just gotta keep trekking.

  • AMC

    I think it’s lame you continue to try and attack the Wyoming Democratic Party because you were an unprepared candidate looking to get a handout from the party without actually wanting to put the time and energy in to work with the Party. Just because you put D behind your name doesn’t make you one, least of all in Wyoming. Did you run because you really believed you could make a difference in Wyoming or for Democrats in Wyoming – probably not. Did you run because you thought this would make a great book and a good opportunity to market yourself? I’m guessing yes. Keep blogging, that’s as far in the political realm as you’ll ever get because you don’t have anything real to offer Democrats in Wyoming or anywhere else. But good luck in your future endeavors.

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

    AMC,

    I did run because I thought I could make a difference. People like you sometimes make me want to leave the party, but I don’t because the party is not just about you and others in the party’s inner-circle.

    Thanks for stopping by. Maybe I will see you in April.

  • Andrew Simons

    AMC, Why is lame to attack a party with just over 10% representation in the legislature and a registration of 30% statewide. It isn’t much of a secret that the WDP has problems. If you’re only interested in patting the party leadership on the back for their abysmal performance in at least the last two election cycles how are you being the better democrat? You should also take a look at how candidates are chosen in the rest of the country before you decry a candidate that has trouble getting their message out due to a lack of funds and support from the party infrastructure. Finally the passive agressive tone, not really fooling anyone, so just grow up and give up on false well wishing. If you just want to come and beat on someone that had the courage try something that so many “good Wyoming Democrats” didn’t you shouldn’t pretend that you offer the WDP, or the people of Wyoming any better than Chris did.

  • http://www.sethpayne.com Seth Payne

    AMC — you are the reason people hate politicians. Sounds like you put party over state and country. That, in my view, is pretty screwed up and with you at the helm, I have no doubt Dems will continue to lose in WY. Dem first and American second, right?

    You may not think Chris has much to offer the Democrats but he certainly has a lot to offer the state of Wyoming.

    Seth

  • Pamela RW Kandt

    Wow, Miz “AMC” — just WOW! As a former Democratic candidate for the state legislature, your comments infuriate me and you should be censured by the state leadership. I ready don’t care what you think — you have every right to your opinion — but to spew it publicly causes our Party harm. That’s NOT the way you build loyalty. With that attitude, why would ANYONE want to step up and run for office?

    Frankly, it’s pretty chicken sh!t to try and hide behind your initials. Perhaps you forget this is a small state and an even smaller party. I have no problem attaching my name to my criticism of your comments.

    You owe Chris and the Party a public apology. (And, please, don’t think this stops here. I’ll be making sure the state leadership is fully apprised of this exchange.)

    But good luck in your future endeavors.

  • Bob LeResche

    Wow, both sides sure are touchy around this topic. I sincerely wonder why. I do hope that Chris explains his assertion that “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.” in a future post. I might be the ultimate naif, but I don’t figure there are any true “power brokers” in the WDP — that’s a status granted only by others who see ghosts everywhere. As to the “party” having an “intention,” I think that’s giving it much too much credit. But I do hope to learn something in future chapters.

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

      Bob, thanks for stopping by. Power is relative. In this case it is relative to a small dysfunctional as it is organization.

      Of course, maybe I am one of those people who see ghosts everywhere. After all, I am a Mormon. ;)


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