From the Trail: The Politics of Kindness

Empathy and kindness are two things that we are never in excess of. It is, to me, inherently limitless in terms of need. We can always be more understanding, more thoughtful, and more empathetic to our fellow men and women. We can always be more helpful and do more, which isn't to say we don't do enough, but rather to say that we should take solace in what we accomplish while always searching for the next step; the next area where we can unite and build rather than tear down and divide.

Last night, I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to speeches from both Senator Mallory McMorrow and future Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet. Getting to speak with and listen to Kristen is something that I've been lucky enough to experience a number of times this campaign cycle, and each time I leave being happy that I had the experience and more fired up to keep pushing for progress. Senator McMorrow was someone I had not met yet, but had appreciated and followed from afar.

Senator McMorrow speaks to something near and dear to me, and something that I've coined the "politics of kindness," which is to say; the politics of treating each other with respect, understanding, and positivity. I don't want to run a dirty campaign that brings people down. I tell volunteers all the time to take advantage of me. Build themselves up off of what I'm doing. I don't view it as anyone taking anything from me but rather me using whatever limited reach I have in my current role to lift all of us up, even if it's just an inch. I have less than zero interest in attacking an opponent in the hopes that it wins me votes. I tell those in my campaign not to attack my opponent, but rather focus on uniting our community and talking with any and everyone, regardless of political affiliation. Even if we can't convince you to vote for me, hopefully we can build a relationship and a foundation of mutual respect that will let us work together to benefit the community.

Here's the main point that gets to the heart of the issue - we want the same things. We want people to be able to work for a living. We want our children to have a good education that prepares them for life. We want to feel safe in our communities. We want everyone to feel comfortable and welcome in their hometown. Yet we feel more divided than ever. Why?

Looking past my tendency to blame money and corruption that comes with it, I think some of it has to do with how disconnected we all feel personally, while living in a time where we have the ability to be more connected than ever digitally. With that digital connectivity comes a rise in the ability to create an echo chamber where you only have to talk to those who think like you, live like you, and communicate like you do. While that may make for a nice feeling on social media, that's not how our world works. It takes all different types to make our communities thrive, and closing ourselves off only makes it harder for us to come together and help each other succeed.

So how do we fix that? I won't pretend to know exactly how to do that, but I think just starting out by being a little more understanding and respectful to each other. If we see someone in a "Trump 2024" hat, don't scoff, roll your eyes, or discount them. Would you want them doing the same if you were wearing a "Biden 2024" hat? No, because they don't know your life, your situation, or how you came to decide that you wanted to support a certain politician. Show them understanding just as you would have others show you. In short; "do unto others."

This isn't to say we should accept hate or attacks. Stand up for yourself, but don't lower yourself and resort to name calling and pitiful attacks. Instead, ignore those people living on the fringes and work with the majority of us in the middle, who just want to see our communities thrive and continue to grow for future generations to enjoy the fruits of. Show understanding and empathy instead of judgement and hate. John F. Kennedy famously said, "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." This idea is a national one, but I believe the spirit of it can be applied to many aspects of life, and it's why it has echoed through the halls of history. Do not look simply for what you can get out of your community, think of what you can do for your community. Because when we do, and when we dedicate ourselves to that unity, we end up benefitting from it all the same.

On that note, I'll wrap up this "From the Trail." I know it was a bit of a departure from my usual updates. I hope what I said resonates with some of you and sparks conversations both in and out of your normal social circles. I want to continue to fight for politics of kindness, regardless of what happens in my race. We need to continue to fight and believe and respect each other, so that we can hopefully continue to unite and focus on the majority of us who have the same goals. Again, I want to thank all of you who continue to follow and support our movement, and I hope you are all doing well as we move into the fall.

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