From December 2016 – March 2017, I explored the idea of participating in politics. In particular, I was looking into local politics, and getting to know my local legislative district and city council. I was interested in running for a city council position because I wanted to address the potentially negative (and potentially positive) impacts that the Sound Transit System would have on the city. I wanted to address these issues prior to the stations being built, in hopes that some preventative measures could be put in place that would keep this city accessible to the populations that make this city diverse, but are historically underrepresented.
In my scant free time, I invested a lot of energy into this exploration. I attended my legislative district’s monthly meetings. I arranged in-person meetings with “key” people who I was told could assist me if I did want to run. I attended a day-long seminar for women of color who were interested in running for a public office position, which explained in detail what it takes to run a campaign, and the various stages.
In my exploration, i eventually became very disillusioned with local politics. I met “liberal” “progressive” democrats who tokenized me. I confronted an older white woman for her racist remarks, and she brushed it off and continued with them. I noticed that my legislative district’s Facebook page had, for its cover photo, a stock photo of young people of color… even though the make-up of those who attended the monthly legislative district meetings were all old white people, and it did not appear that they ever made much effort to reach out to the young people of color who actually live in their district. Most infuriating was my conversation with a fellow young woman of color who was running for city council as well. We were not running for the same position, so we weren’t in competition with each other. When I spoke with her about my intent to run, first she aggressively tried to dissuade me from doing so because she wanted to be the only young woman of color running and didn’t want to share the spotlight in fear it would diminish from her campaign. When I confronted her and said “Hey, we are not competing for the same position, is it a problem for you that I am running?”, she said no, but also added that she would not in any way support or endorse or even acknowledge my campaign publicly. More than anything, she appeared hungry and desperate to climb the political ladder, rather than actually being in community and solidarity with a fellow woman of color.
My experiences exploring local politics left me completely disillusioned with the Democratic party. Even at the local level, it was full of people who cared more about party’s appearing to be into social justice, appearing to be diverse and accessible to non-white, non-old voters, but not actually living up to what they claimed in practice, in their daily lives. I hate how, for so many white people, things like racial justice, accessibility, diversity, etc remain abstract concepts that they passively praise, but never actively strive for in their own lives. This is what I found to be a theme when I explored local politics: most everyone I encountered in my legislative district were awful to interact with, and gave me nightmares. No lie.
Thes people I didn’t know, who frankly had too much time on their hands and were more obsessed with the scene than substance, were telling me how to run my campaign, what to say, how to be palatable, how to win people over… I knew politics was like this, but I didn’t know how much it would get to me. From the very start, I knew that I wanted to run a different kind of campaign, and have people I personally knew, who held the same ideals as me, who worked in various fields, who I knew to be full of integrity. I wanted to have a kind of “think tank” of kickass people to be part of my team… Not these weirdos who desperately wanted to get me into office to advance their own personal political agendas.
The whole process felt very much to me like people clambering over each other to reach the top of a sinking ship – the ship, in this scenario, being the democratic party. It’s just another instance of depressing hypocrisy. The Democratic party is just full of old white people who wish to maintain the status quo, and younger people who are desperate for fame and to climb the ladder, but care more about image rather than living what they preach. I realized that, even at this level, it takes a fucked up shitty person to run for office, or a person with the fortitude and resources to deal with such people.
I am neither. I am just starting out in my career as an attorney. I have neither the time nor the resources to run a campaign, even one for city council. I decided, ultimately, to distance myself from that stress, and enjoy my summer. To avoid feeling used, and to instead to do things that make me feel happy and healthy. To be in community with people who love and appreciate me as a person, rather than try to fit into a scene that just isn’t me.