WILSON: Why even try?Posted by Wesley Wilson on July 13, 2015
A little under a year ago, I began looking into running for my local legislative seat. I received input from friends, family members, and various Mississippi politicians. Some responded positively, some negatively, and some even criticized. As for myself, I prayed, and ultimately decided to become a candidate.
At the time, Mississippi had the highest unemployment rate and was ranked last in economic freedom—not much has changed. It did not seem like there were many dedicated elected officials ready to lead that charge, and if I would not, who would?
The day before my announcement, I marched with the good folks of Mississippi, as we encouraged our elected officials to disband the highly unpopular Common Core standards in Mississippi.
Sitting in the old senate chamber, I looked around the room and saw concerned parents, grandparents, and citizens. What I did not see was more than a handful of legislators ready to take on that fight. In fact, they passed a bill later pretending to address the issue. That very day, I spoke to legislators, only to receive half-hearted responses and a few eye rolls. The people needed a voice.
Soon after, a friend and I sat in the floor of an apartment, and we prepared for an announcement. The next day, we came out swinging. My community was supportive, and I received messages from voters who felt disenfranchised by their representation in Jackson. I saw what they saw—our beloved state suffering.
As time progressed, so did my campaign. I revamped graphics, discussed policy more regularly, and prepared for a long, hot summer hitting the pavement. However, as push cards and signs arrived, so did what a “big time” politico in Jackson described to me as “Fascist Rankin County politics.”
Other challengers, including myself, found signs being damaged or stolen throughout our respective districts. It was even suggested by a candidate that maybe they were not stolen; just maybe, people realized I am “not the best candidate.”
Have you ever worked all day and night to meet a big deadline for work, and the next morning, all your work has been erased? That’s what I feel every time I pass a yard with a missing sign. Seemingly, more time is being spent replacing stolen signs than putting out new ones. It is like jogging backwards.
Just a few weeks ago, on my birthday, I received a text message threatening to blackmail me if I did not drop out. To my surprise, these things really happen. To quote my dad, “They could’ve at least found a candidate who cares what others say about him.”
Frankly, I do not care what people say, and I never have. However, this should not be a reality in politics; no one should be deterred from running for public office or to share his or her views.
Truth be told, I have lived my entire life with people making negative comments about me. Essentially, every aspect of my being has come under scrutiny at some point. Whether on the playground, in the college cafeteria, or the workplace, I’ve heard it all. Although these things may hurt at times, I choose not to allow it to damage how I perceive my campaign or myself.
I refuse to believe or accept politics in America as what I have experienced thus far running for office.
I refuse to believe, like some have suggested, I just play a part in the political game.
I refuse to believe the people of my district and of Mississippi do not deserve better.
I refuse to believe stealing signs, whisper campaigns, and veiled threats will define the state of our state.
Recently, I watched one of Carly Fiorina’s interviews. She criticized the permanent political class, and the damage it has done to our nation. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Americans agree with that very sentiment.
To be honest, where better is the professional political class personified than in Jackson, MS? The people want change—they want new, energetic, honest leadership, and it is time for us to demand it.
We often ask why good people don’t run for office. Why would they? Why even try?
That’s what I asked myself today on my drive home. As I looked to my left, where a highly supportive uncle lives, I saw for the second time in two days, his yard sign was missing. As I drove a little further down the road, I looked to my right, and the same situation haunted me. “Why even try?” I asked myself.
At that moment, my gaslight lit up, and I took a turn to the nearest gas station. I pulled up to the pump, got out, and put my debit card in the slot. When I looked up, I noticed the person before me only put five dollars in their gas tank.
When I started this campaign, I stated, “I’m running for the guy before me at the gas pump, who could only afford to pump five dollars [worth of] gas.” That is why I try; however, for those who follow in my footsteps, for the people of this great state—they deserve better. This is not how politics should be.