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The Courage to Run for Public Office
The Courage to Run for Public Office
Written by Dr. Tom Deighan, LPS Superintendent
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Political hacks have a term – also ran­­ – used to describe people who ran for political office unsuccessfully. And by the term political hack, I am referring to the bloviating second-guessers that have plugged the drain after the election, making post-election coverage more painful than the actual election. Regardless of their political affiliations, they are never wrong, because when someone opines for a living, they learn to hedge their bets well enough to support every possible outcome. Hence, they can smugly sit behind a keyboard, camera or microphone and deride the also rans. Ironic, coming from a bunch of never rans.

After seeing what good people endure when running for public office, I am in awe of anyone with the courage to run in this digital age. Social media has become the archer’s bow for character assassination, allowing miscreants to safely take aim at people in the most despicable of ways. Gone are the days when good people could agreeably disagree. Diversity of thought has been replaced by diversity of shouting.

Most of us are arm-chair quarterbacks of the highest caliber, but the social media age seems to have ushered in an entirely new breed of commentator. Sneering has become the beauty mark of trolls worldwide. Scoffing is now a sport, scorn a virtue, and sarcasm a marketable skill. None of this is new, for human nature has not changed, but every trollish wart is now gloriously displayed in our digital age. Social media are amazing tools, with unlimited potential to enrich our lives, but some have twisted them into platforms of putrescence.

At this point in in the social media evolution, most ordinary people have experienced the double-edged blade of social media. We have occasionally swung that blade carelessly, and we have been cut in some measure, so we know how it feels. Now, multiply that feeling by a million when your life is splayed out for all trolldom to defile. Your family, friends and profession are all exposed and attacked. You helplessly cringe as the arrows whistle from every direction. That is what women and men who dare to run for elected office can expect.

We all wonder why they do it, and we consider money, power, and ego – but there is not enough money, power, or ego in the world to make this worthwhile. Nothing is worth enduring such a trial, unless . . . these women and men really desire to serve their fellow citizens, to improve their cities, states, and our nation. No one will ever get rich or famous as an Oklahoma mayor, city council member, legislator, or school board member, yet they desire to serve. I hate to disappoint the trolls, but the majority of last Tuesday’s candidates were good people who simply wanted to serve us.  

I honor the LPS employees who dared to run this gauntlet:  Jacobi Crowley, Joan Gabelmann, Ashley McCarter, Ruby Peters, Daniel Pae, and Sherene Williams. I also celebrate all others who ran for any local, state, or national seat. If you won, congratulations!  And if you lost, congratulations!  Very few people have had the courage to face the hoard of trolls roaming the internet. Whether you won or lost, you also ran, which is much more than 99.9% of us who never ran.

You are the men and women about whom President Teddy Roosevelt spoke:  “It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena . . . who spends himself in a worthy cause . . . who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  Please pray for our elected officials and please pray for the safety of our children this Second Sunday of the month.