Ahh, democracy. Stronghold of freedom and renowned leveler of playing fields, ’tis one of the last remaining systems where a lone principled voice can still make a difference. An equalizer against tyranny, injustice, and corrupt oligarchic rule, by any other name, simply would not smell as sweet.
And you, with your altruism, your gusto, and your ten-point vision for a better tomorrow, you’ve girded up your loins and filled out your disclosure forms and rallied your closest friends and family. You’re going to let the general public kick the tires on your best ideas with the ultimate field test; you’re going to run for office.
Not so fast, friend.
The Democrats heard you’re thinking of running, and they’re here to tell you: “that’s not how we do things around here.”
They’re sure your ideas are probably great and all, but they’re going to let Cam or Cal or Connor what’s-his-name take this one. He’s already got his crisp shirt sleeves partially rolled up and everything.
Maybe next time though, eh? Keep your chin up, and remember to vote blue no matter who.✌️🌊
For anyone who doesn’t know, here’s what happens when you surprise the Democratic Party insider-establishment by signaling a potential run for office in a race that rightfully belongs to their candidate.
First, someone catches wind of your plans and alerts a staffer on the crackerjack team of professional Democrats running the campaign for the preordained candidate.
The campaign team leaders proceed to — as the kids say — lose their shit. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy puts it only slightly more diplomatically, referring to this phase as the period of “absolute panic.”
Everybody pulls out their cell phone or BlackBerry and gets their well-groomed thumbs moving as quickly as possible.
The campaign staffers call the candidate. The candidate calls the party leadership. The leaders call delegates and operatives and donors and strategists; and everyone scrambles around like a bunch of Keystone Cops until they figure out how to respond to this completely outrageous encroachment into their dominion of paternalistic centrism.
I mean, how dare you — nay, anyone — have the audacity to campaign for this democratically elected office without checking first to make sure it was okay with them?
After their emotional flooding has subsided, they’ll blow the dust off the standard talking points, punch them up a bit with seasonal quips, and propagate the message like an all-points bulletin to insiders and party loyalists.
That’s when they start coming for you. All of them.
Sometimes it’s texts. Sometimes it’s calls and voicemails. Sometimes they’ll even flag you down in public. Their tone is often more friendly than hostile and even adulatory at times, but you know and they know what these conversations are really about.
If your run is a big enough threat to their plans, you might even get a call from the candidate themself. They have tied up a lot capital from their personal fortunes and professional networks to make their run. This is their big chance, and they paid good money for it.
That’s when you know you’ve really made waves. The only thing rich people hate more than a bad return on their investment is having to get an obstinate squirrel out of the factory themselves.
If you let them get hold of you, they’ll make their best case for why your run is a bad idea. They’ll say there’s a bigger picture that you’re missing. They’ll try to convince you that you’re out-raised, misinformed, and nonviable — that running for this office isn’t the way to accomplish what you’re trying to do.
They’ll tell you to be a team player. Seriously.
The thing is, when your competitors are twisting your arm and pressuring you to be a team player, that’s not a democracy. Scholars might call it a cartel, but that would be an insult to cartels, which, generally speaking, are better run than the Democratic Party’s insider scheme and a hell of a lot more effective.
The party loyalists will tell you that you should run for something else. Something local maybe. They’re not sure what but definitely not this. Something nonpartisan could be a good fit for you. Just not this. Because you’d be great at lots of things as long as they don’t involve running for this office. This race is just too important.
Sometimes they’ll end up grinding you down. You’ll bow out for the greater good or the lesser evil, or simply because you’re tired of trying to fight the good fight in a battle with a predetermined outcome. And that’s okay. It’s okay because you’re human, just like the people you’re running for.
But sometimes — sometimes you’ll say to hell with them and run anyway. If you do, good for you. Even if you don’t win, even if you can’t, be the ever-present thorn in their side. Ruffle their feathers. Take them to task. Remind them that there are people willing to stand up and flip the table over when word gets out that the game is rigged. Real democracy is rough around the edges. It’s uncouth and audacious. But most importantly, it isn’t for sale.
Don’t let them ever forget that.