Recently, I chose to experience democracy in the first person by collecting nomination signatures for Jon Rygiewicz who wants to run for the Wisconsin state assembly. Here in Wisconsin, you have to get a certain number of signatures from your prospective constituents in order to get on the ballot.
He is a brave man. He is running as a Conservative Republican in an area known far and wide as the most liberal place in North America – Madison’s Isthmus. I admire his bravery. Besides, it’s impossible to affect change in a group if you aren’t part of the group. Well, he’s in the group and representing his values with his actions! Congratulations Jon!
I remember a fellow that came to my door wanting me to sign his petition to get on the ballot. We were in different political camps. I signed his petition, and thanked him for being willing to risk personal loss and humiliation. I told him that I didn’t like his politics, wouldn’t be voting for him, but that this is the USA and anyone should be able to run for public office, and let the best person win! I shook his hand and he was on his way. I believe it was a good experience for us both. I signed his petition because, no matter how misguided I felt his ideas were, he probably came about his ideas as honestly as I did mine, and if my sides ideas are as good as I feel they are, they will survive the arena of public scrutiny.
At each door, I explained that Jon was not asking for their endorsement or approval of his ideas; that it is a sort of permission for him to get on the ballot. What I found was people wanted literature and explanations of his positions, despite the fact that without enough signatures there would be no campaign or literature. Many seemed suspicious of me or what I was doing. Some were very rude. Most were just curt and said “I think I’ll pass.” I wondered how most could call themselves democrats. Jon is the consummate “little guy!”
What happened to all the people on both sides who claim to be fed up with the establishment? This district Jon runs in is “Bernie Central!” Aren’t those “feeling the Bern” the ones who claim the loudest to be so upset at the democrat establishment? Our young watch our every word and action. The next time someone comes to your door for a nomination signature, remember, your kids can see if you are really as confident in your ideas as you say you are by seeing if you allow your ideas to be examined or challenged. I’m guessing that many of these folks instruct their kids how to vote rather than trust they possess a solid ability to reason.
Let me encourage you to experience democracy by finding a guy like Jon, with a dream, and show some support, even if you don’t fully agree with him. Everyone deserves a chance to try.
Here is a link to his page in case you want to show him some support: