One of the pastors of my church, who is also a friend and a dear father figure in my eyes, told a story the other day that keeps popping into my mind today. He was talking about his experience running for office—after years as a business owner and pastor, he’s running for mayor in Trousdale County.
He told about attending a funeral recently, where a man made a casual joke to him. The man said something like “On the campaign trail, eh?” gesturing around with a smile, as if my pastor’s attendance at this funeral was a political move.
This man was probably just speaking out of habit. He was probably used to saying such things to the local campaigners he runs into around town, and surely, he was not intending to be snide. But my pastor said that the comment struck him to the heart.
He went on to relate to us that the campaign is difficult for him. It is hard to feel that as you go about your business, as you go out into the community and attend cookouts and civic meetings (and even funerals), you are ‘campaigning’. He struggles to understand the process of self-endorsement, and finds it strange to be seen suddenly as politicking, simply because he shows up at things.
In his case, of course, the idea is ludicrous to me. He has always been everywhere, all the time. He shows up to things. He drove to Lousville, KY for my husband’s graduation from seminary. He has probably been to more funerals in the last five years than the average person attends in a lifetime. He shows up at rotary meetings and business meetings and church services and house parties, as well as ministering in local nursing homes and holding Bible studies outside the church on a weekly basis.
He’s always shown up. Now he is running for office. He still shows up.
I only wanted to write about this because I myself have been a little short on patience during this election season. At every fundraiser, every cookout, ever concert, every ball game, you run into The Candidates. Standing outside the entrance, handing out pens. Flashing t-shirts and ballcaps at the camera. Waving and shaking hands and asking for your vote. It is a big election season here in the county, and I like a good election, but the sheer numbers have overwhelmed me a little. I have tended to make jokes just like the one made to my pastor at that funeral:
I wanted to make a call to all of us registered Macon County voters. Remember that the people on our ballots are also our friends and neighbors. Remember them as they’ve always been, before they put their names in the hat and printed up a bunch of logo cards. This is the fun of local politics. If they’ve been involved before now, why should we fault them for staying involved, now that they aspire to serve in our local government?
Perhaps we can cut down the jokes, just a bit, and when they try to hand us that pen with their name on it… take it.
In anticipation of early voting, which begins in just a few short days, I’d like to say this: good luck, Macon County candidates. We’re thankful for you. Keep on politickin’.