Reflections on Running for City Council
I've been seriously considering running for city council, but I've been reluctant for a few reasons.
First of all, I'm not very fond of politics. I'm interested in political issues and I think it is important for people to be democratically involved in the decision-making processes that affect them. But I also see our political systems as fundamentally flawed in that respect, as it fails to empower people to be involved in the decisions that affect them and it fails to truly represent the general will. Plenty of local issues are also significantly affected by other levels of government which we have little influence over. Issues with the politician role are also part of that picture.
This brings me to my second point, I'm not great in every way at being a politician. I may be good at facilitating communication and coming up with solutions to problems, but being a politician also requires being good at getting people's attention and getting them on your side during elections. The politicians that win elections are not the ones that have the best platforms and that are most beneficial to the public, the politicians that win are the ones who are the best at campaigning, and who are good at convincing people that they should vote for them, regardless of how good their platforms are. Having a good platform and genuinely serving the public is separate from being good at the craft of politics. I think I could make a positive difference but I'm not particularly the best at being a politician in that sense. If I run I will need a great team and at least 11,000 votes to get elected.
Finally, getting elected won't be enough. We need more participation from people and we need a completely different culture and perspective of politics in order to truly solve the problems that we are facing. That will require more than just electing good politicians, it will require a broad social movement for a more democratic, less divisive, and wiser politics. It will require some significant commitment from all of us. I could reach out more to the community, but that will go nowhere without the community buying in and participating. And that's pretty difficult considering how busy we all are just surviving.
Despite these reasons, I think I'm going to go for it. I'm about to graduate in both philosophy and business, I'm satisfied with the skills that I have at this point, and, quite frankly, I'm kind of tired of just watching on the sidelines while researching. It's kind of maddening to watch people making mistakes that are obvious to you and not being able to do anything about it. If I have the power to help, then I have a moral obligation to do so. So, if I can find a great team, I'm going to run for the city council.