Where does the buck stop? It stops with us--when we stop blaming others and assert our right and responsibility to choose a cleaner process to nominate and elect our public employees. And now, using individual resources and technology, we can do it. Our "for sale" politics is an insane joke--but my plan to run around it isn't insane and it isn't funny.
My name is Jay Williams. I'm running for US Senate in Iowa in 2014 without accepting any money—yours, mine, or anyone else’s. My campaign will receive no monetary donations and will be entirely self-organizing. There will be no paid staff to tell me what to think, say or do. There will be no paid advertising. Instead, using our own tools and technology, we, as volunteers, will do everything that needs to be done, or it won’t be done. Then, when I’m elected without the burdens, temptations and pandering required to raise money, I’ll be free to serve full time.
Money buys exclusive access and special favors while secrecy permits and perpetuates it. It’s as simple and toxic as that. Check out this video for the best research and explanation I've seen on how big and bad it is.
Pretty bad, isn’t it? But while Professor Lessing’s statement of the problems and his impassioned call to action hit me square on my patriotic sore spot, his suggestions for moving forward requires the participation and cooperation of those who are not motivated to change, inside a codependent system that is locked and rigged to fail. We must work outside the entrenched dysfunctional political processes that won’t allow their own reform. Today, with widely available technologies and resources, I’m offering an alternate process to reassert our civic responsibilities and realize the Constitutional intent of self-government. We must stop wasting time and effort trying to fix what cannot be fixed. We must stop doing what isn’t working. No more complaining, blaming, shouting, name-calling, character assassination and fighting—no more B.S. We must act.
I harbor no illusions. Any candidate running a campaign like this risks ridicule and failure, possibly even worse. I am willing to take those risks if I can help raise awareness of our real choices and amplify the voices of ordinary citizens. One Senator from Iowa who refuses to “play the game” will not change Washington, but patriotic voters everywhere, who see that we need not accept the secret hijacking and oddly frenetic paralysis of our politics, will change Washington. And it’s our duty—your duty—to insist on openness and fairness in our processes and legislation that yields positive results consistent with our Constitutional vision.
We must begin with the nominating process. The very reason for our democracy was to recognize the right of every voter to be heard, but we are being silenced before elections are even held. Presently, political parties, powerful special interests and big donors choose the candidates in relative secrecy, effectively creating political indebtedness and preempting our choices at election time. Have you ever voted for the “lesser of two evils,” or not bothered to vote at all, because the choice of candidates was so poor? When was the last time you honestly felt that your one vote really mattered or that you were really being heard? Whether you are a diligent voter or a frustrated abstainer, remember that our founders meant for everyone, not just the privileged few to be heard and to exercise the power allowed by our citizen-directed democracy. This campaign is your chance to realize that vision by choosing to run a candidate that is not already pre-selected by concentrated interests and money.
We must take the money out of politics.
What percentage of our elected officials’ time and political capital is spent chasing money? Public servants—our employees—should spend their time on public service instead of shaking down or pandering to the big donors who can buy the loudest bullhorns. My campaign will not be held hostage by fund raising, because there won’t be any. This moneyless electronic campaign will leave me free to serve full time. What a liberating thing it will be to be elected without the political indebtedness, temptations and pandering required to raise money!
But there is no free lunch. Investment is still required for a successful candidacy—investments of resources. You, and/or the people you know, together, have the investment resources to make this concept work: computers and smart phones with internet connections, social media, and friends; the knowledge that something is wrong and that there must somehow be a more fair, egalitarian way to be heard and solve our problems together. The only question that really remains to be answered is this: do we have enough love for our country and each other—for ourselves—to consciously choose to get off this political merry-go-`round to nowhere? I believe we do. If You Tube can get millions of hits on cute animals and “fails,” and Jackass can be a part of our popular culture, then my serious, if unconventional, run for the Senate can surely move the whole country forward.
They will see my simple no money, no fuss, no B.S. plan to take the “For Sale” sign off our elections. They will see cheap easy ways to pitch in, beyond just writing a check and casting a single vote. They will see an open,clean, straight, unfettered process to allow what the vast, vast majority of voters really want: good honest full time public servants disconnected from the disproportionate, overwhelming and paralyzing influence of big money.
Our politics and government are, and can only be, like the people and processes that form them. If we want a government that is straight, clean, open, honest, responsive and responsible while honoring the Constitutional vision of our forefathers, we must choose candidates and a process that are like the politics and government that we desire. Please join me, and us, on a journey to become the change we want to see in our country.
I will not affiliate with any political party. Two-party politics reinforces the polarity of competing values and the habit of thinking that we only ever have two choices. Rigid party ideologies discourage needed flexibility in the development and revision of public policy. I will seek collaboration and compromise with partners who are willing to allow a synthesis of good ideas and policies, regardless of personalities and affiliations. I believe we can begin to recognize and confront our own competing values critically, without automatically framing every problem as a “fight” with a “winner” and a “loser.”
I will not ask for or accept any money for this Senate run. We have confused our candidates with merchandise by believing that politicians are, and should be, for sale. I’m not merchandise. I’m not running to become part of the problem. I will ask for and accept contributions of non-monetary resources, like referrals, printing and all of the other ground game components.
I will not sell out, but I will sometimes change my mind. It is a mark of intelligence to revise our thinking when presented with new and better information.
I will not profit personally from inside or privileged information. I will apply all of my understanding to the betterment of the people of Iowa and the United States.
I will not have secret meetings or make secret deals. Secrecy is the root of mistrust that fuels doubts and fears about our government. I will make my calendar and contacts public on my website, while respecting the personal privacy of those I serve.
I will not pretend to know what I do not know—or pretend to not know what I do know. I will say, “I don’t know,” because some form of “I don’t know” is the only honest reply to many complex questions.
I will not promise how I will vote on any particular bill or issue. A promised vote on specific issues is often a false promise, and always the sign of a closed mind. I will explain my questions, values, opinions, thought process and rationale on issues.
I will not tell people whatever they want to hear. I will tell people what I believe they should know in the most complete and detailed way possible.
I will not relinquish my personal life. I have worked hard and continue to work hard to find balance, joy and peace in my life by honoring the truth and treating myself and others well. I will continue doing so, whether elected or not, because honesty, mutual respect and good relationships is always required for true success.
I will not be able to respond personally to every communication, nor will I respond with insulting impersonal form letters. I will post my thoughts and positions on my website and do my best to be personally available to help in emergencies and constituent services.
I will not deny the truth to save face or avoid ridicule, persecution or prosecution. I will face the truth and present it with my best understanding, regardless of how it affects me.
I will not fight. Fighting does not solve problems; in fact, fighting always gets in the way of real solutions—and sows the seeds for the next fight. I will, however, argue assertively and relentlessly to find and implement our very best solutions.
I will not talk more than I listen. I will listen more than I talk.
I will not assume that my way is the best or only way. I will think critically about every possible solution—as the style of this Senate run demonstrates.
I will not be a perfect person or representative. There is no such thing as a perfect candidate, only perfect hair and perfect teeth—and I have neither. I will go to work every day and work to the best of my ability.
I will not be a lone wolf. I will ask for your help. The style and values of my Senate run is unprecedented and will only be successful if you get involved. We have never before had the opportunity to communicate in such an interactive, timely and meaningful way—a way that traditional television, radio, and newspapers do not allow. This ability makes it possible to share our message without the need to raise staggering amounts of money. Get involved, spread the word, share your resources and encourage those you know to do the same. Together we can prove that big money and big business as usual is at best ineffective, at worst detrimental and overall, quite unnecessary. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin speaking to the Continental Congress in their time of political crisis: we must all hang together, because, right now, we are certainly hanging separately.