Post-Campaign Blues: What I Learned, and What’s Next

Or, how less than 0.86% equaled 3.5%.

The voters spoke two weeks ago today, and declared that I was not their choice to represent District D on the Town Council of Cary, North Carolina. C’est la vie.

I am grateful to everyone who voted for me, and a little pleased that I garnered 3.5% of the vote while investing less than 0.86% of the total money spent on the District D campaign. How much less than 0.86% I’m not sure, since the other candidates haven’t filed their final reports (and two of them are continuing to spend money on a runoff); that figure is based on their reports from 2 weeks before the election, and I know one candidate in particular spent a whole lot more money on mailings and robocalls and such right up to election day.

Prepare for the Worst: Political Ads are Coming!
(“Prepare for the Worst: Political Ads are Coming!” by Jeff Gates, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

I do wonder how many more votes I might have gotten if I had mailed out a postcard or two, or put up a few signs, or advertised a little. I think I might have made it competitive, but it’s hard to do when you spend less than $100. But, to paraphrase the song,

I’d like to run for [office] and play the political game
But I don’t have very much money to wage a big campaign

“I Think I’ll Run for Congress”

So, besides the obvious lesson that you have to be willing to spend a great deal of money — either your own or someone else’s — to get elected, what other lessons did I learn, or have confirmed? I’ll catalogue a few:

  • Cary, NC, is not a small town — just the district I ran in has more registered voters in it than the entire combined populations of three of the towns I’ve lived in: Georgetown, SC (my hometown); Seneca, SC; and Plattsmouth, NE — which, as a small-town guy at heart, was a bit overwhelming
  • There is no such thing as a nonpartisan race — the parties came out in force, even at this lowest level of government
  • Board of Election rules are hard to interpret — so hard, in fact, that the State Board still hasn’t answered my question about one of them
  • Changes in polling places cause problems — I was told that some people got frustrated and drove away from the old polling place without coming to the new one to vote
  • Word of mouth is good and useful, but limited in its effectiveness unless the message is really compelling
  • Being noncontroversial — and especially being quiet and deliberative instead of raucous and divisive — doesn’t attract much in the way of attention
  • People who are content, and think things are pretty much okay, don’t vote in large numbers

So what’s next for me in politics? Not much.

I will continue my Anti-Campaign: Anyone, anywhere, can write me in for any office at any time. I remain the Anti-Candidate, and continue to approve that message. (I have it on good authority, for instance, that at least one person wrote me in for Mayor of the Town of Cary. But since the Board of Elections doesn’t release the tallies for write-in votes, I have no idea how many people might have done so.)

Will I ever run for office again? Maybe.

That is to say, I could be convinced to run if enough people wanted to recruit me. You’d have to be willing to handle the campaign management — the paperwork and reporting, the scheduling and coordination, the fundraising, advertising, and so forth. Why? Because I’m more than willing to serve, and willing to stand in the arena and talk about issues and experiences and qualifications, but I don’t have any desire to work on another campaign. (Not even my own.)

After all, as the song says,

I just want your money, I just want your cash
I just want all your treasure, whatever’s in your stash
It’s strictly voluntary, it’s not highway robbery
I just want your money … and that’s why politics is for me

“The Anti-Candidate Song”

But rather than just hold my hand out for you to drop money in it,* I prefer to offer a little something of value. So I’m happy to sell you some CDs or other merchandise, or stories when I can get them published, or to write a speech for you or help you edit something. I will continue to try to produce content that people want to buy and to provide services that help people tell their own stories in the best possible way.

So … let me know if you have any questions, or if I can do anything for you, and sign up for my newsletter (using the form in the right sidebar) for periodic updates and info!

And, if you happen to have voted for me (or written me in), thank you very much!

___
*Don’t get me wrong, if you want to send me money I’m okay with that. If any of this has been entertaining for you, we’ll call it a fair trade. Send me a note and I’ll be happy to give you my PayPal information.

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Campaign Chronicle: Election Day!

Okay, sports fans, get out and vote!

If you can see your way clear to do so, I’d like you to vote for me* — but from the standpoint of the society we live in, I hope you’ll at least get out and vote for someone. As Robert A. Heinlein wrote in Time Enough for Love,

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for, but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

I quote that by way of explaining that I don’t mind if you vote for me because you think I’m a swell guy or you appreciate my record of service or you like my sense of humor … or if you just happen to cast your vote in my general direction because you’re voting against one of the other folks. (This also applies if you live outside Cary’s District D, outside Cary itself, or even outside North Carolina, and you just want to write me in for some other office.)

To go along with my tongue-in-cheek approach to all things political — and especially to my own campaign — you can also vote for me for one simple reason:

vote no1
(“vote no1,” by Sean MacEntee, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

That fits, doesn’t it? After all, on my first album I sing,

Politics, that’s the life for me
It fits my arrogant, megalomaniacal personality
I’ll get my name in the papers and my face on your T.V.
And take good care of myself, my friends and my family — yes, that’s the life for me

“I Think I’ll Run for Congress”

And on my second album I follow that up with,

Politics, politics, the life I want to lead
To make sure I get what I want, and you get what you need
I may be arrogant and megalomaniacal but it’s just because I’m great
Come out and join me any time — fifty bucks a plate

“The Anti-Candidate Song”

You don’t mind a little arrogance and megalomania in your politics, do you? At least I’m honest about it.

Anyway, today is the day! so I should probably be a fraction more serious.

Since it’s time now to stand and be counted, don’t worry any more about spreading the word about my campaign, unless you want to pick up the phone and call your neighbor to encourage them to vote — or pick up your neighbor and bring them to vote! And if you need a reminder about what I really stand for, I wrote a few weeks ago that

  • I believe the fundamental purpose of government is to preserve your (and my) rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;
  • I believe that our rights, both individual and collective in the form of the government, should not infringe on the rights of others;
  • I believe that government action intended to help anyone should be carefully evaluated on the basis of who it is likely to hurt in the process, and rejected if the benefits do not justify the cost;
  • I believe in being accountable, by which I mean being “able to give an account,” i.e., able to explain one’s reasoning for actions taken … and not taken;
  • I believe that many if not most people who present themselves as politicians take themselves far too seriously; and
  • I believe that serving in office is more important than running for office.

If any of that appeals to you, I hope you’ll consider voting for me.

___
*For today’s election in particular, I’m on the ballot for Town Council in Cary’s District D.

Spending Disclosure: As of this date, my campaign has spent a total of $84.

This blog post was “paid” for, at the cost of $0 and whatever time it took Gray to write and upload it, by The Gray Man: Service, Leadership, Creativity.

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Campaign Chronicle, 1 Week to Election: Vote Early, Vote Often!

I’m only partly kidding with that title, and in a second I’ll explain why.

First, two important notes regarding the 2015 Cary Town Council election:
– TODAY (the 29th) is the last day to request an absentee ballot. Your request needs to be in the Board of Elections office by the close of business.
– TOMORROW (the 30th) is the first day for early voting in Cary. You can vote at the Herb Young Community Center from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, but only from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

So, vote early if you want to!

VOTE
(“VOTE,” by Theresa Thompson, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

Now, about that “vote often” bit, remember that even though I’m on the ballot for the District D seat on the Cary Town Council, I’m also the Anti-Candidate, available as your convenient write-in vote for any office, anywhere, at any time. So whether you live in Cary or not, whether your election is on October 6th or in November with all the normal elections, if there’s a “write-in” slot on your ballot and you don’t have any strong feelings about the people vying for the office, put me down for the job! Just be sure to spell my name right: G-r-a-y R-i-n-e-h-a-r-t. Don’t confuse the election officials.*

I think it would be hilarious if, in addition to getting votes for District D, I got a few write-in votes for other offices on the ballot. So spread the word:

  • tell your friends;
  • share the link to this post on social media;
  • forward the link to a friend (or even an adversary);
  • print a flyer in either color or black and white and put it up somewhere;
  • hire a skywriter to put “Vote for Gray” up among the clouds;**
  • stand on the streetcorner and encourage people (but don’t harangue them; nobody likes to be harangued) to vote and even to write me in.

Vote for Gray, for everything!

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*The fact that there are two “Gray Rinehart”s in the world may be confusing, but I’m the only Anti-Candidate.
**Fair warning: If you do something silly like that, be prepared to send LOTS of paperwork to the Board of Elections.

Spending Disclosure: As of this date, my campaign has spent a total of $84.

This blog post was “paid” for, at the cost of $0 and whatever time it took Gray to write and upload it, by The Gray Man: Service, Leadership, Creativity.

For additional updates and info, sign up for my newsletter using the form in the right sidebar or visit the election page on my website.

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Campaign Chronicle, 2 Weeks to Election: Taking the Pulse of District D

We’re getting down to the wire in the Cary Town Council election. Early voting starts this Thursday in Raleigh, then next week in Cary, and the local election day itself is the 6th of October.


It’s a fair question.

In advance of the election I’ve been out canvassing nearby neighborhoods, asking two open-ended questions to see what people like and don’t like about Cary. I’ve hit only a tiny fraction of District D — the district has over 20,000 registered voters in it — but here’s what the people I’ve talked with have told me about their top issues.

First I ask people, What is your favorite thing about living in Cary, or the thing about Cary that you think works the best? The top answers have been:

  • Parks & Greenways (24%)
  • Location: 4 Seasons; Proximity to RTP, Raleigh, Conveniences (18%)
  • Security / Public Safety (11%)
  • Established Neighborhoods / Good Family Environment & Schools (7%)
  • Small-Town Feel (7%)
  • Town Services / Attentiveness to Needs (7%)

A few people mentioned other things like the town’s friendliness, its cleanliness, its people, and even its emphasis on recycling. But consider those top results for a moment.

For many people the thing that sets Cary apart is the care the town has taken to ensure a variety of green spaces for recreation and relaxation — and as someone who walks the greenway around Bond Lake several times a week, I feel the same way! But for nearly a fifth of the people I talked to the best thing about Cary is not what the town does but rather where the town is. “Location, location, location,” as they say.

What those top results tell me is that the resources we put into keeping the town livable and safe are likely to pay dividends in the form of a continued high quality of life for Cary residents. That’s been a priority for the Council as well as the town staff, and should remain so.

Then I ask people a contrasting question: What about Cary would you most want to change, or the thing about Cary that you think doesn’t work so well? The top answers have been:

  • “Nothing” / “I Don’t Know” (17%)
  • Need a Better/Revitalized Downtown Environment (15%)
  • Excessive Growth / Density / Urban Sprawl (15%)
  • Crumbling Traffic & Other Infrastructure (10%)
  • Loss of Trees from Excessive Construction (7%)
  • Crowding: Schools, Roadways (7%)

No kidding: When I asked that question, more often than not people seemed to struggle to think of anything substantial that they would like to change or see done differently. One gentleman I spoke with yesterday just smiled and shook his head, as if I shouldn’t have bothered with such a question. I don’t remember his exact words, but they were along the lines of, “We have the lowest taxes and the best services in the county, what else do we need?”

Some people did mention other issues, like the need for clearer rules and exceptions (e.g., about Cary’s infamous sign ordinances), the need for more activities, better broadband access, and more affordable housing, but even some of those responses appeared to be second thoughts rather than immediate concerns. Undoubtedly some citizens in my district are concerned about other issues, but I can only report on what people have told me, and no one — I must emphasize, not a single person — has so far mentioned the kind of things that I expected to hear, like wanting better government accountability, or lower taxes, or public transportation, or even better parking downtown.

In other words, for the people I’ve been talking to, Cary is a nice place and there’s precious little about it that needs to be changed. That’s part of the reason why I wrote to someone recently that I’m not running to “make a difference,” and I’m not on any “damn fool idealistic crusade” (to quote a famous movie character). I’m running because I’m interested in making sure Cary stays the safe, prosperous community it is, and that it doesn’t ruin itself by growing too fast and discarding its small-town feel and charm.

If that appeals to you, and if you’d like someone on the council with an analytical but creative way of thinking, then I’d be happy to have your vote on October 6th … or early, if you prefer!

___
Want to help my campaign? Tell someone about it today! Share this post on social media or forward the link to anyone who lives in North Carolina (especially the Research Triangle area or the Town of Cary). Call your favorite radio station and ask them to play “The Anti-Candidate Song” a few times. Download a Print-It-Yourself Flyer in either color or black and white and put it up in your office or at your favorite hangout. And for occasional updates and info, sign up for my newsletter using the form in the right sidebar or visit the election page on my website. Thanks!

Spending Disclosure: As of this date, my campaign has spent a total of $84. (And that includes the T-shirt I’m wearing in the picture.)

This blog post was “paid” for, at the cost of $0 and whatever time it took Gray to write and upload it, by The Gray Man: Service, Leadership, Creativity.

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Campaign Chronicle, 3 Weeks to Election: My Distant Cousin Founded This Town

As I began my run — okay, my ambling walk — for the empty Town Council seat, I was surprised to find that I am related to the man who founded Cary, North Carolina.

Back in 2011 I wrote about my family connection to the Pages of Williamsburg, Virginia, and at the time I didn’t give any thought to the possibility that those Pages might be related to the Page family here. But they are.

First, it’s important to point out what my friends have known for a long time: the Gray Man was adopted when he was young, which muddies the water a bit when it comes to tracing lineages and such. For those who don’t know the story: I was born Thomas Graham Lipscomb, and my father was Thomas Page Lipscomb. He died when I was three, and my mom later married Herbert Wade Rinehart. Shortly after moving to Georgetown, South Carolina — where I learned about the Gray Man and latched onto the legendary ghost as my alter ego — my stepfather adopted me and I became Graham Wade Rinehart. Or, as most of my friends know me, Gray Rinehart.

I first wondered about the connection when I was on Chatham Street in downtown Cary and noticed a historical marker about William Hines Page (with whose statue I’m pictured below). Oddly enough, before I thought about whether I might be related to him I thought about a friend of mine named “Hines” from grade school. But once the possible Page family connection came to mind, it was easy enough to check out.


(On the Cary Town Hall campus, I’m standing next to a statue of a distant cousin who was Ambassador to Great Britain and the son of the town’s founder. See any resemblance?)

William Hines Page, who was at one time Ambassador to Great Britain — itself something of a nod to the family history, since Colonel John Page originally came from Britain to settle at Williamsburg — was the son of Allison Francis (Frank) Page, who founded Cary and served as its first Mayor and postmaster. He built the Page-Walker Hotel, which stands behind the Town Hall building and is now an art gallery and focal point for local events. Frank Page’s father was Anderson Page, whose father was Lewis Page, whose father was Robert Edward Page, whose father was Mann Page II, whose father was the Honorable Mann Page.

The Honorable Mann Page, it turns out, is our nearest common ancestor.

The Honorable Mann Page had another son, about whom I wrote in that linked blog post: the Honorable John Page, who was friends with Thomas Jefferson at the College of William & Mary. The Honorable John Page’s son was Major Carter Page, whose son was Dr. Mann Page, whose son was Carter Henry Page, whose son was Carter Henry Page, Jr., whose daughter was Katherine Carlisle Page. She was my “Grandma Kate.” Her son was Thomas Page Lipscomb, my natural father.

Thus, as near as I can figure from looking at canon law relationships, Frank Page — Cary’s founder — was my fourth cousin, three times removed.

I doubt that makes anyone more or less likely to vote for me for Cary Town Council. But it’s an interesting coincidence!

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Election Day for the Cary Town Council race is October 6th, but early voting begins on September 24th!

Have you told anyone about my campaign? It’s easy! Just share this post on social media or forward the link to anyone who lives in North Carolina (especially the Research Triangle area or the Town of Cary). Better yet, download a Print-It-Yourself Flyer in either color or black and white and put it up in your office or at your favorite hangout. For additional updates and info, sign up for my newsletter using the form in the right sidebar or visit the election page on my website. Thanks!

Spending Disclosure: As of this date, my campaign has spent a total of $84.

This blog post was “paid” for, at the cost of $0 and whatever time it took Gray to write and upload it, by The Gray Man: Service, Leadership, Creativity.

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Campaign Chronicle, 4 Weeks to Election: People Who Shouldn’t Vote for Me

I wrote this post while riding in the van on the way home from Dragon Con, the largest science fiction and fantasy convention in the Southeast. You can judge for yourself whether that may have anything to do with the content.

Don't Blame Me...I Voted for Kodos
(Image: “Don’t Blame Me…I Voted for Kodos,” by Steve Snodgrass, from Flickr under Creative Commons.)

We’re still counting down to the Cary, NC, Town Council election, and if you don’t live in Cary — and particularly in District D — you can’t vote for me even if you might want to. (You can, however, always write me in for some office in your area; I will not renounce my Anti-Candidate availability.)

However, you should not vote for me if …

  • You want the government to do everything.
  • You want the government to do nothing.
  • You don’t proceed when a traffic light turns green because you are too busy messing with your cell phone.
  • You dislike or disapprove of the U.S. military.
  • You dislike or disapprove of all public safety professionals, especially police officers.
  • You regularly watch and derive significant entertainment value and home economics tips from television shows about “real housewives,” and/or frequently seek life advice from people who are famous primarily for being famous.
  • You believe that your rights include the right to take rights from others.
  • You believe that other people exercising their rights represents an existential threat to your rights.
  • You are a member of Al Qaeda or any other group that has sworn enmity to the United States of America. (Hat tip to James Galt-Brown.)
  • You think having more money or things makes you a better person.
  • You think buying something on sale leaves you with more money in your pocket than not buying it at all.
  • You think the solution to all our economic problems is for the government to just print more money.
  • You would let this or any other Internet list make up your mind for you about what you should do. (Hat tip to Martin Shoemaker.)
  • You believe everything you read on the Internet.
  • You believe everything that politicians tell you.
  • You don’t necessarily believe everything that politicians tell you, but you find their empty platitudes and impossible promises comforting.
  • You call all Muggles “mudbloods.”
  • You have no discernible sense of humor.

I could have come up with many, many more such examples. Probably you can, too, and I welcome any suggestions you’d like to put in the comments.

And remember: If you are eligible to vote but don’t, you relinquish a power that was yours to use, and for which others have sacrificed much.

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Election Day for the Cary Town Council race is October 6th, but early voting begins on September 24th.

Help spread the word about my campaign: Share this post on social media or forward it to anyone you know. Or, if you live in North Carolina, especially in the Research Triangle area or the Town of Cary, download a Print-It-Yourself Flyer in either color or black and white and put it up in your office or at your favorite hangout. For additional updates and info, sign up for my newsletter using the form in the right sidebar or visit the election page on my website. Thanks!

Spending Disclosure: As of this date, my campaign has spent a total of $84.

This blog post was “paid” for, at the cost of $0 and whatever time it took Gray to write and upload it, by The Gray Man: Service, Leadership, Creativity.

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Campaign Chronicle, 5 Weeks to Election: Various Political Thoughts

I’ve done a little canvassing around my district (still lots more to do!), but so far I’ve found that most people have expressed similar preferences on what they appreciate about living in Cary and … let’s say, what they find annoying. And since I’ve been talking with folks who could be my constituents one day, I thought I should relay some of my thinking about what you might expect from me in terms of political service.

First, a reminder: Election Day for the Cary Town Council race is October 6th, but early voting begins on September 24th!

Liberty
Looks as if this eagle is deep in thought. (Image: “Liberty” by Joel Olives, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

For about as long as I’ve been running this blog, I’ve occasionally written about political topics — long before I started this “election countdown” series of posts, at least. In this current series, though, I’ve discussed how my long practice in telling people “no” may have made me a poor political candidate, why I’m not making any promises to anyone, and how you can help spread the word about my campaign.

But some of my older posts might be instructive to people who are deciding whether to vote for me.

I did a series of posts called “If I Were My Own Representative,” for instance. In that series, I discussed my intention to understand, as fully as possible, any bills I would be voting on, why my default position on legislation that would hurt people would be “no”, and the message I hope I always deliver, that the U.S. is still “the greatest hope for peace and prosperity in the world”.

I also wrote a series of posts in which I floated various ideas for tax reforms, such as taxing long-term investment income at a lower rate than income from short-term speculation, eliminating taxes on interest from savings below certain amounts, and phased-in business taxes to help young businesses succeed.

And I’ve written about broader political topics, like putting civility back into civil discourse, metaphors for the opposing ends of the political spectrum, and why we shouldn’t punish good people when bad things happen.

I hope voters who might be considering me as their candidate will read a few of those that interest them. I don’t expect anyone to read through all of them (those series, for instance, were longer than just the ones I mentioned), but reading a few would give anyone a deeper look into how I think about political subjects. I have more political posts to choose from, too — plus some that I didn’t even categorize as such. But for a quicker assessment of what I’m about as a candidate, consider this:

  • I believe the fundamental purpose of government is to preserve your (and my) rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;
  • I believe that our rights, both individual and collective in the form of the government, should not infringe on the rights of others;
  • I believe that government action intended to help anyone should be carefully evaluated on the basis of who it is likely to hurt in the process, and rejected if the benefits do not justify the cost;
  • I believe in being accountable, by which I mean being “able to give an account,” i.e., able to explain my reasoning for actions taken … and not taken;
  • I believe that many if not most people who present themselves as politicians take themselves far too seriously; and
  • I believe that serving in office is more important than running for office.

If any of that appeals to you, I hope you’ll consider voting for me.

___
Help spread the word about my campaign! Share this post on social media or forward it specifically to anyone you know who lives in North Carolina, especially in the Research Triangle area or the Town of Cary. Or download a Print-It-Yourself Flyer in either color or black and white and put it up in your office or at your favorite hangout. For additional updates and info, sign up for my newsletter using the form in the right sidebar or visit the election page on my website. Thanks!

Spending Disclosure: As of this date, my campaign has spent a total of $84.

This blog post was “paid” for, at the cost of $0 and whatever time it took Gray to write and upload it, by The Gray Man: Service, Leadership, Creativity.

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Blogging the New CD: A is for Anti-Candidate

First in a series of blog posts about the songs on my new CD, Distorted Vision.

Since I’m currently a candidate for a real political office — the District “D” seat on the Cary (NC) Town Council — it seemed appropriate to start this series of posts by focusing on a political song. A disclaimer is in order, first: Nothing in this blog post should be construed as having anything to do with the office I am seeking, or with my actual campaign.

This is about the Anti-Campaign.

I’ve been unknown, and rarely sung, I’m an Anti-Candidate
And I’d serve in any office, in any district or any state
But I have a little problem, it’s an introvert’s disgrace
I’d rather rely on social media than to meet you face to face

“The Anti-Candidate Song”

I started the Anti-Campaign during the 2008 election cycle because the idea tickled me: I made myself available as a convenient write-in vote for any office, anywhere. It became a running gag, and now even has its own bumper sticker!


Bumper stickers are $2 each plus shipping and handling. Buy yours on my Bandcamp page.

And every campaign needs a theme song, right? Well, in this case the campaign has two.

The first Anti-Campaign theme song was “I Think I’ll Run for Congress”, which was on my 2013 album Truths and Lies and Make-Believe. “The Anti-Candidate Song” is something of a sequel, and like “I Think I’ll Run for Congress” it pokes fun at politics and politicians.

“The Anti-Candidate Song” plays off two characteristics that the first song attributed to the candidate singing it: arrogance and megalomania. In the first song, I sing that politics

… fits my arrogant, megalomaniacal personality

and in this song I sing

I may be arrogant and megalomaniacal but it’s just because I’m great

I leave it as an exercise to you to decide how much of that is true, and how much is the kind of convenient falsehood which career politicians seem to spin so easily. (And, if you will, how much of the Anti-Campaign as a whole infuses my real campaign.) But I will point out that if you look closely at the bumper sticker in the image above, you’ll see it says, “Arrogant & Megalomaniacal: What could go wrong?”

In the end, even if you can’t quite be sure whether I’m being serious or silly, I hope you find something to smile about when you listen to “The Anti-Candidate Song”!


___
Reminder: I’m playing a concert as part of the Dragon Con Filk Track, on Sunday the 6th of September at 4 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency’s Baker Room. Come out and see me!

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Campaign Chronicle, 6 Weeks to Election: STAR TREK, Slush Reading, and Politics

Or, how years of telling people “no” may have made me a poor political candidate.

I’m afraid I don’t know how to tell people what they want to hear.

First, a story from this past weekend. On Saturday I went to Lazy Daze, the annual arts festival here in Cary, armed with a few brochures — yes, I finally broke down and spent some money — to hand out if the occasion arose. It was a lovely day, and I saw a couple of my opponents out and about, one of whom was working the crowd pretty hard. (I did not see my third opponent, who reportedly was also campaigning hard — and in a way that might be considered a bit devious.)

Anyway, I wandered the booths and examined the wares, bought a great 2016 calendar featuring some spectacular calligraphy, and at one point a gentleman walked by me and said, “Nice shirt.”

Since I was wearing my STAR TREK United Federation of Planets shirt, I turned and said, “Live long and prosper!”

To which he replied, “Qapla’!” (If you’re not up on your Klingon, that means, “Success!”)

We both laughed, and I mentioned that a friend of mine is the founder of the Klingon Language Institute,* so we chatted for a minute and I asked if the fellow lived in town. No, he said, but his in-laws did — and when his mother-in-law happened by, you better believe I gave her a campaign brochure!

So my STAR TREK shirt led to a campaigning opportunity, which was probably the furthest thing from my daughter’s mind when she bought it for me.

Broken mask
Sooner or later, it seems every politician’s mask breaks. (Image: “Broken mask” by Josef.stuefer, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

My other campaign stops have been less successful, though, and I think I may have figured out why.

One stop was sort of a pro forma meeting, because I anticipate the group’s endorsement will go to a particular candidate they have worked with for some time. It was a quite pleasant meeting, though, and I feel I at least provided a little entertainment value.

At another stop, however, I definitely turned off some potential voters by — again — refusing to commit to specific courses of action without knowing all the facts. My “if I don’t make a promise, I can’t break a promise” message fell rather flat, and one attendee approached me afterward to explain why they were disappointed in it.

I was surprised. Even though the halls of government are littered with the shards of once-shiny promises that wound up shattered through neglect or by design, and though the fingers of the electorate are bloody from picking up the broken pieces and trying to fit them together into something, anything, useful or beautiful, it seems that people are willing to accept and even desire more promises without substance, goals without plans. I wonder if it’s a matter of needing hope, even if it’s a slim hope, even if it’s ultimately a false hope.

If so, I’ll say it straight out: I’m not the guy to give anyone false hope.

My day job, when you get right down to it, is to disabuse people of their hopes. Every person who sends in a manuscript to Baen Books hopes it will attract our attention, hopes we will accept it and publish it and help them achieve that dream of publication. But the raw facts are that we publish a limited number of books every year, only a small portion of those can be by new authors, and we receive many hundreds of submissions in the slush pile for every potential “new author” slot.

I applaud every writer who slogs through completing a manuscript, toils over that manuscript to ensure it’s as good a story as it can be, and takes the risk of sending it in for us to evaluate. But I still have to tell almost every single one of them “no.” And even when I write to someone whose work is good enough for us to consider at length and in depth — whose manuscript two, three, or even four of us will in time study and pick apart — I have to tell them that the answer may, in the end, be “no.”

In other words, I make no promises. I do not try to bash any writer’s hope, and I do not try to crush any writer’s dream, but I will not give any writer an unrealistic expectation.

And so, I will not give any voter an unrealistic expectation.

If that is what you need as a voter, if you are desperate for some slim hope and willing to take the risk of almost certain disappointment, then I apologize that I cannot be the kind of candidate who will feed that need. I hope (and I mean that without irony) that you find and support the kind of candidate you need.

But if you are a voter who can tolerate deliberation, who can stand deep examination of issues, then I hope you can understand my position — and maybe even support me.

___
*Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen, if you must know.

Reminder: Election Day for the Cary Town Council race is October 6th. Help spread the word about my campaign! Share this post on social media or forward it specifically to anyone you know who lives in North Carolina, especially in the Research Triangle area or the Town of Cary. For additional updates and info, sign up for my newsletter using the form in the right sidebar or visit the election page on my website. Thanks!

Spending Disclosure: As of this date, my campaign has spent a total of $44.

This blog post was “paid” for, at the cost of $0 and whatever time it took Gray to write and upload it, by The Gray Man: Service, Leadership, Creativity.

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Campaign Chronicle, 7 Weeks to Election: No Promises

This week I had my first sit-down session with a group of citizens who wanted my take on issues important to them. I suspect I disappointed them a little; I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, I already have a few other such meetings on the calendar but I’m willing to add more. I’ll sit down with anyone who wants to discuss the issues. If there’s food involved, so much the better.

Second, I observed that optimistic scheduling doesn’t work with certain classes of people, among them serious politicians who tend to be a bit long-winded. In fact, I almost left when my scheduled session was delayed because the candidate before me was late arriving and continued into my time. (I had to be convinced to stay.) But once it got started the actual interview was fine, if too short to actually delve deeply into anything because I made it a point to wrap up as close to the end of my scheduled slot as possible. So if you really want me to explain my thinking on a subject, be sure to allot a good bit of time.


The ghost of Jacob Marley (Alec Guinness) visits Ebenezer Scrooge (Albert Finney). This has something to do with politics, trust me.

As I said, I suspect I left the folks in the room feeling disappointed that I had not agreed to champion their causes. They seemed to expect me to make a commitment to them, but I reiterated what I said when first started on this adventure: I am not making any promises to anyone about anything.

Why? Because I can’t break a promise that I haven’t made.

Think about the scene in A Christmas Carol in which the ghost of Jacob Marley intrudes on Scrooge’s quiet evening. What was Marley wearing? A great chain that represented his failure to care for the destitute and downtrodden, a chain he forged “link by link, and yard by yard.” Imagine if every living officeholder had to carry a chain forged of their broken campaign promises — perhaps formed “lie by lie, and pledge by pledge.” The halls of government at every level would ring with the sound of rattling chains.

Promises are cheap. Keeping them is hard.

I intend, if elected, to study every issue that comes up and listen to different viewpoints. I have stated my principle for staking out a position on proposals: since most proposals are quite clear about who they would help (or intend to help), I would like to consider who they would hurt, and how much, and then weigh whether the intended benefit is worth whatever cost is involved.

But I won’t make promises, because that way I can’t break any.

___

Election Day for the Cary Town Council race is October 6th. Help spread the word about my campaign! Share this post on social media or forward it specifically to anyone you know who lives in North Carolina, especially in the Research Triangle area or the Town of Cary. For additional updates and info, sign up for my newsletter using the form in the right sidebar or visit the election page on my website. Thanks!

Spending Disclosure: As of this date, my campaign has spent a total of $10. But I’m probably going to spend a few bucks later this week.

This blog post was “paid” for, at the cost of $0 and whatever time it took Gray to write and upload it, by The Gray Man: Service, Leadership, Creativity.

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