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Tristan Higgins Headshot

A Note to Politicians: What Do You Believe in? What Are You for?

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I am tired of politicians, be they candidates or elected officials, who spend our time and money telling us what they are against.

Typical campaign ad: I am so and so and I will absolutely not do this... or that. Or this other thing.

Second typical ad: Hi again, I am so and so and my opponent wants to do this or that, and I don't.

Excellent, Mrs. Soandso. Now, I know all about you. Now, I am comfortable with your... erm, platform?

What I would really like is for a candidate to tell me (and anyone who will listen) what they want. What they believe in. What they are for. This is much more interesting than the reverse. Don't tell me you are a Republican and you hate Democrats. Or vice versa. That is a waste of your 30 or 15 seconds and lots of money. Same thing with those stupid mailers. I throw them them away - without reading them. Why? They always say, "Vote for Soandso. She hates Whozawhatsit and all Whozawhatsit stands for." Again, very illuminating. Stop wasting our time and all those resources.

Send me a flyer that says, "I am Mr. Whozawhatsit and I want to accomplish X, Y, and Z." Then, if I want X, Y, and Z, I know you are my candidate. Now, I know this is scary. I know you all have experts telling you that you must do this and you mustn't do that. You must wear blue. You must use the flag prominently in your ad. No, you must not use purple - are you a hippie? Yes, you must have your dog in your photos. No, you may not have your cat - are you a lesbian? You must bash your opponent (even if you sat across the aisle from her in local counsel or church and actually like her). No, do not at any costs tell people what you want to do. Then, if you don't do it, you will have failed.

Well, guess what? We all still watch (or at least many of us do), and WE STILL KNOW WHEN YOU FAIL. We aren't stupid. Plus, we know you can't single handedly change the whole government. Give us a little credit. But, we can tell when you didn't get anything done. When you didn't try. Or when you started running for reelection right after you sat down at that big shiny desk. Not telling us what you want to do will not rescue you from this eventuality.

I really want to know what you stand for. I don't want platitudes. Here's an ad I heard in Michigan recently: "I will reduce big government and cut red tape." Oh, really? And, just how are you going to accomplish this feat? By cutting road repair? Closing courts? Shutting down police stations and fire houses? Shaving days off the school year or increasing class size? Government is what keeps our country running - most of the time. If what you really mean is that you don't like taxes and will look for tax cuts - say that. Maybe we don't like taxes either. [Side note: according to the ads against this particular candidate, she wants to accomplish this by closing any abortion clinic and increasing health care costs for women. Now, don't you feel like you know exactly what this candidate does - or maybe does not - stand for? No? Me neither.]

Hey, other party, you aren't much better. "I will do the right thing. I will stand up to big money." Hmmm, again, telling me you will do the right thing doesn't tell me much/anything about you. What if your "right thing" isn't my right thing? Just because I know what party you are with (because of your tie color and the amount of flag showing in your ads) doesn't mean I have a clue what you stand for. Plus, though there is less of it, your party has big money, too.

Let me start.

I believe in equality. I will treat you, and you, and you (over there in the corner) exactly the same to start with. I won't pay you more or less, rent you a house, deny you a medical procedure/promotion/car loan because you are young, old, black, white, religious, atheist, blonde, brunette, ginger, foreign, speak another language, butch, femme, gay, straight, bi, trans, educated, not lucky enough to be educated, tall, short, fat, skinny, in a wheelchair, not in a wheelchair, famous, anonymous, carnivore, vegan, attractive, not attractive, rich, poor, freckled, be-speckled, hipster or old fashioned. I say "to start with," because of course if we interact and you are a jackass, then I will treat you differently - but that will be because you are a jackass. Not because you are a hipster. Or vegan.

Your turn.

I know its scary to put yourself out there, Mrs. Soandso and Mr. Whozawhatsit. Maybe you can start with baby steps. Non-fat milk or 2%? Romantic comedy or thriller? You must believe in something. There is a reason you decided to run. If you would like my vote, tell me why you deserve it. Declare yourself.

It's Butch to declare yourself to the world. Be Butch.