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  • Meg Kinnard

Why I'm not running for Congress

I don’t know what I’ve done to make anyone think I’d ever run for Congress - or any office, for that matter - but the question keeps coming up. I’ve done a pretty good job - I think - of concealing any political leanings I may have. I tell people all the time that my own husband doesn’t even know for whom I vote - and it’s true!

Most people who know me, know that I was born into politics. In fact, my birth was literally announced on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. 4 days after... but still.

My grandfather served in Congress for 20 years, and before that, held statewide office in my home state of Tennessee. My great-great grandfather and a few uncles were state senators and representatives, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when, just last week, I was asked at dinner, by some of Grandaddy’s former staffers, (and a former congressman) if I’d ever consider throwing my hat in the ring. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked, but coming from them, it was the first time that it was truly flattering. My answer, however, isn’t just no. It’s Hell no.

Too many people want to be a hero without first being willing to make an impact right where they are. If you desire to be an elected official, there are so many roles you can fill besides being a congressman. School boards, city council seats and others of that ilk need hardworking, dedicated people to make a difference. By starting small, you also sharpen your skills so that, if the door for a larger seat ever opens, you’ll be prepared. Does that mean I plan to do that? Absolutely not. And here’s why:

What if I told you that people can make an impact on society without running for public office? I could write a long list of names of people who have changed the world without Rep. or Sen. in front of their name. And that’s who I’ve chosen to be. I’ve also been a reporter for so long now, that I can see through the spin of political parties and politicians of all stripes. But just because I’m politically agnostic doesn’t mean that I don’t care about society. I’m just a strong believer that being a reporter is just as (and perhaps, more) important as being a congressman. (I'll save that for another blog post.) I’m also a strong believer that being a giver of my time and finances to organizations of higher learning and character development could also be more important than being a congressman.

Social media has created many overnight heroes (and villains), and many people seem to want a part of that limelight. Sure it would be cool to pound a podium and have people cheer, but it’s also cool to watch a kid be the first to graduate from college in their family, and to know I may have played a small role in that. Or, perhaps, knowing that something I did might have prevented a child from being abused. And maybe because of those things, one of those children could go on to be a far better congressman than I could ever be, anyway.

Finally, politics has gotten nasty. And stupid. And too many people are running for office who have no idea what they’re doing, in the first place. I could give you a thousand examples, but I like to keep my blog readable. Just look at my post from last week. I don’t know that person, but based solely on that, they probably aren’t ready to run for Congress. Does that mean they aren’t a fantastic person with a lot to offer this world? Not at all.

I’d like to think that I can make a bigger impact on my world by keeping my efforts smaller and more defined. I don’t care if no one ever finds out about any of it, as long it makes things better. I’d be willing to bet that, if others who’ve ever flirted with the idea of running for public office did the same, and we all joined together in our efforts, we could make a bigger impact than any congress ever dreamed of making, anyway. And who knows? We might actually be able to get some things done.

I bet we’d have a higher approval rating, too.


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