Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Friend, the Politician

If you're like me, you might agree politics is not the answer for much of anything. On any given day, the decisions I make impact myself and my family more than any politician or government program.

In fact, mostly I just want them to stay out of my way and let me run my business.

A few years ago, I got really frustrated with politics in general and urged people to take our country back from the corruption in Washington. I still believe neighbors helping neighbors through churches and non-profits will always be more effective than any bureaucratic government plan.

To be honest, at one point I probably lost hope in the political system as a valid means of bringing about positive change or making an actual difference in people's lives. I have friends that are political, and I've cheered them on at a distance, but, more recently in fact, I've become more aware of just how difficult a job it is to get elected or be a public servant.

My friend Ben Claybaker has helped me realize that. He's running for State Representative for district 53 here in Tennessee. My wife and I have known Ben and his wife Elizabeth for a long time. We actually knew Elizabeth back when we lived in California and she attended UCLA. Ben's the real deal. A small business owner who believes in limited government, cutting taxes, and improving education (which, by the way, makes an area more attractive for business owners, their employees and their families).

Ben won his party's nomination. He and his wife have worked hard. I mean, really hard. I know something about hard work having built my own business over the past 5 years, 4 of which while working a full-time job. He's been working a marathon of making phone calls, attending events, and knocking on doors.

Unlike all of the opponents he's faced in this election, he's lived here for 6 years. I hear the other dude owns a house somewhere else and is renting here just for this election.

Last week I helped knock on doors for Ben and let the swing voters know why I support him. I got to see first hand just how hard he's been working day after day for months. He's doing it because he has a passion to serve his community, and he believes it's part of his calling and responsibility. I'm inspired by my friend who is living his life on purpose.

He's given me hope for politics. He's helped me believe, at least on the local level, that one man with a passion can make a difference.

Today, my family had the privilege of attending one of Ben's events in Lenox Village which is just down the street from our house. The kids had a blast (bounce house, cookies, and gelato), but I also enjoyed meeting Governor Bill Haslam who was there to support Ben (that's him in the picture). Gov. Haslam told some funny stories but also reminded me how close of a race this is. He recommended we each get a list of 10 people in our minds and make sure they vote for Ben this election. I'm hoping this blog post will help us do that.

If you're in district 53, and you want to be proud of your representative, please vote for Ben and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same. Share this post with them or have them contact me if they want someone to vouch for his character.

Not all politicians are evil. I had to see one of my friends first hand working his tail off to realize that. If you're like me, fed up with politicians and politics (especially on the national and presidential levels), try getting to know your local representatives. If you can't find anyone with integrity in your local office, consider running yourself. It's a lot harder to complain about a problem when you're the one willing to fix it.

I hope this post encourages Ben and lets him know how proud his friends are of what he's doing. I hope on November 6th, more people will be introduced to him as our new representative and maybe, just maybe, find hope in the system again.


henryrendleman said...

There are good ones like Ben. I feel the same way as you do Luke. If our country were run by the people who are upstanding blue and white collar citizens to make decisions that should impact other people of the same.

Luke Stokes said...

Thanks for commenting, Henry. :)

If you know anyone in the district, let them know one of the good ones is running for the first time, and we need to get him in there. Help me spread the word.

Matt McWilliams said...

I remember him for some reason. Has he run before?

Someone should tell him, though, that white shirt and bone colored pants don't go together :) And no hands in the pockets.

OK, that's all I managed to get out of the picture LOL. (I studied political campaign management for a few years so it's still ingrained in a nervous twitch.)

Luke Stokes said...

No, this is his first time running for office. Did you ever attend Bethel?

I think the shirt was a soft blue and my iPhone camera did it a disservice. As for the hands in the pockets, I guess it's better than folded arms, right? I wonder what the correct posture would be when standing next to the governor.

Ben and a Elizabeth have a good amount of experience having helped in some campaigns in Washington. Crazy thing about being in the "public eye" is it only takes one mistake to look clueless. :)

Thanks for the comment, Matt. I hope your week is starting out great.

Matt McWilliams said...

Yes we did go to Bethel for a while. Maybe that is how.

You are right about the folded arms. In fact the reverse order of what to do with your hands is:

1. Folded arms - defiant, hostile, angry
2. Behind back - hiding something
3. In pockets - humble, weak, nervous, unsure
4. Folded in front - "hi, this is my crotch," stubborn, bored

and so on.

Luke Stokes said...

Hah! Wow. Reminds me of the scene from the Adjustment Bureau where they analyzed the appropriate shoe scuff amount (just watched that again this weekend). :)

If I was standing next to the governor, I might go with hands in the pockets also, hoping for the "humble" approach. But then again, I don't know much about politics.

Matt McWilliams said...

LOL. Yeah it's hard. I was always in a flux with what to do with my hands when listening or just standing. I still am. It's not like I can be thinking too consciously about it. I learned not to keep them in my pockets and simply went with my hands to my side. Feels weird but doesn't look as weird as I felt.