Sunday, September 22, 2013

“I’m Not Into Politics”

Them: "I'm not into politics."
Me: "Oh that's alright, politics are in you."
Running for public office has been one of the most educational experiences in my life. Not just on the 'Politician' side, but also what I’m learning about the politics of people, places, and things. Since announcing my candidacy for Niagara County Legislature on July 4th, 2013, I am now about three months into this Election Year. That’s three months of campaigning, learning, and gaining valuable experience about a terrain that’s not reflected on a map.

On Tuesday September 10th we had our Primary Election, and the unofficial results show that I won the Working Families party line endorsement. This means that in our November 5th General Election, I will be on the ballot representing 3 party lines; our Niagara Youth Party that I created, the Working Families, and the Green Party. The unofficial results for the Democratic Primary show that I got about 25% of the vote with a write-in campaign; a voter turn-out that has never happened in our district before. People were being told by poll workers that they could only mark the bubble for the candidate on the ballot because the ballots are jamming the machines, others didn’t know how to spell my name correctly, some simply marked an “X” in the write-in spot, and still others just voted for the other candidate simply because they were confused about how to do a write-in vote. I was speaking to a woman at a polling site and after she voted she came right outside and told me that she didn’t vote for me because she wasn’t sure about who I was and what I’ve been doing in our community. After a few moments of talking she realized that I was a Guest Speaker at her church Christ Redemption Tabernacle for a Black History Month Program a couple of years ago. She also reminded me that I had given her the framed picture of Jesus and his Disciples found in the catacombs of Domitilla Rome, that she proudly has on her wall and she sees every day. All of these challenges I saw and heard personally, or voters shared with me about their experience at the polls. And despite these challenges, without one lawn sign, house mailers, media coverage, or etc. our voter turn-out was a great success.

As I mentioned, one of the most educational parts of this whole experience is what I’ve been learning about the politics of people, places, and things. See, people are often under the impression that “politics” is an isolated world that people called “politicians” are associated with. The reality is, everything is political. Politics, by one definition, simply means “the science of power or influence.” Science comes from the latin root ‘scire’ which means “to know”, so everyone, on some level, even a baby crying for milk, knows how to use power to influence their environment. The clothes you chose to wear today are influential. The music you like has the power to persuade (influence). Every advertisement we see has a political aim, whether it’s influencing us to buy food, get a flu shot, or watch a new sitcom. The reason celebrities do or don’t speak about certain current events is political; they may not want to lose endorsements, they may been looking for endorsements, or there may be some other reason. Whether we know it or not, every person, place, or thing in this Interdependent Universe has a fundamental influence, a matrix, and that power was forged through a political process. What does this mean locally? What this means is that the less aware we are of our personal/collective power to influence our environment, our community, and our families, the more power we relinquish, by default; thus allowing others to influence our environment, community, and families for us. More times than not, those who we allow to influence the needs of our environment, community, and families, in a public official capacity, end up using this power to advance only themselves, or use this influence to only help their family. Hence why we have the common phrase, “politics are dirty”, which I don't agree with. The way people use politics can be dirty and our City has seen a lot of that over the years. 

In closing, I want to reiterate that “politics” are not an isolated world that people called “politicians” are associated with. Everything is political and was forged through a political process. The same politics some Politicians use to enrich themselves in office, are the same politics some Pastors use to enrich themselves in the pulpit. The same power of persuasion some Politicians use to get voters to accept a resolution, is the same power of persuasion some Employers use to get employees to accept a policy. The same influence a Politician has to positively or negatively impact the district they serve, is the same influence a Teacher has to positively or negatively impact the students they serve. For those of you who claim you don’t get involved in politics, that idea of neutrality doesn’t change the fact that you already are involved, and living on a local political landscape where the decisions of others impact your life each and every day. You mind as well find out more about the people making these decisions, their reasoning for doing it, and if these decisions are helping serve the needs of the community you live in. If not, then you do have the power to personally/collectively change that. Vote Tuesday November 5th.
Website: Saladin for Niagara County Legislature
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