A Political Victory

For those who haven’t seen the results of my campaign for State Representative, let me share the most important result. Prior to the election, I spoke at to a couple classes on Critical Issues at our local high school.

Last night, a student left this comment on one of my Facebook posts:

Mr. Hynes, you were an inspiration for me. Your views and approach to leadership are fresh and exciting. I can honestly say I am truly sorry for the results of the election, but I am proud to have helped work on the campaign. Your idealism and grasp of the bigger picture are inspiring in a political world too full of short-sighted cynicism.

I won! I can think of no greater victory than inspiring people to work together to make the world a better place. Thank you to everyone who helped make this victory possible.

The Long Run

Well, I dreamed I saw the knights in armor coming…

I’m not sure why that song came to my mind after Election Day, but it was one of the first to come to mind.

Look at Mother Nature on the run, in the Twenty-First Century…

Yet, I am not feeling as down about the election as others. I’ve been skipping over much of the gloating and hand wringing on social media. It is all just part of the ongoing process. I ran. I did not get elected, but I talked about issues and got people involved. I won.

Another song came to mind soon after Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush”. Fiona is a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There is a musical episode of Buffy with the song, “Where do we go from here?” That’s what I’ve been thinking about.

It is National Novel Writing Month. I’ve written the first draft of two novels in previous National Novel Writing Months. I had kicked around the idea of writing a parody of the political biographies that presidential candidates need to write these days. My working title was, “Let’s Get Real”, sort of like Hunter S. Thompson meets the presidential candidates’ autobiography. But I knew that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to make a full out effort, so I decided not to tackle NaNoWriMo this year.

Yet as I’ve thought more about it, I’ve started thinking I need to write, “The Long Run”. I’ve gone back and forth on whether it should be a memoir or semi-autobiographical novel about running for office. I’m currently thinking of the novel approach so that I can amplify aspects of running for office without worrying about offending friends who have been so helpful. This way, I can also weave in parts of other people’s stories about running for office.

I’ve put together an outline and started writing my introduction. At the same time, I’m trying to decompress from the campaign as well as find other ideas to weave into my narrative.

On the campaign trail, I spoke about how I was not running against the incumbent, I was running against apathy. It is an idea I used in 2012 as well. This year, I expanded it to talk about not just what I was running against, apathy, but also what I was running for, empathy.

So, the question becomes, how do we increase empathy? To get ideas, I’ve been listening to various TED and RSA videos. Brene Brown has a couple good ones worth viewing. She talks about empathy and sympathy, shame and guilt, worthiness and vulnerability. All of this is tied up in connectedness.

Who is worthy of running for office? Who is worthy of being elected? Who is worthy of receiving help, whether it be food stamps, or a meal distributed to homeless people in parks in Fort Lauderdale? Who is worthy of success? How does this relate to internalized racism?

I continue to try and make sense of my experiences over the past half year as a candidate. I continue to think about empathy and politics, and I continue to seek ways to make a positive difference in the lives of those around me. You see, I’m in this for The Long Run.

We Will: A Reflection on Elections and Anniversaries

It was fourteen years ago that Kim and I stood before God and two priests in the Episcopal Church, and in front of friends to publicly proclaim our intentions to love, comfort, honor and keep each other, in sickness and in health. There have been good years and there have been rough years and I come back to a comment a philosophy professor once told me in college. “It isn’t love that keeps marriage together, it is marriage that keeps love together.”

We all make commitments in life that seem like a good idea at the time, but at other times seem like folly. When things get rough, when the love and excitement are less obvious, if we haven’t made a solemn vow, it becomes easier to just walk away, but in doing that we are likely to lose much more than we would gain by powering through.

It isn’t just our own will that gets us through, but it is God upholding us, directly and through God’s people. To me, one of the most important parts of the Episcopalian wedding service is when the priests asks those gathered, “Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?” and they respond loudly, “We will.”

Thank you, to everyone who said they will support Kim and I in upholding our vows to one another. Marriage has kept our love together.

Today, Kim and I will celebrate our anniversary poll standing. We will support our fellow citizens in their commitment to democracy. We know that elections, like marriages, don’t always turn out the way everyone wants, but that we must support them and celebrate when people uphold their democracy.

Whether you are voting for me, my opponent, or candidates in a district far away, thank you for voting. Thank you for supporting our democracy. If you are struggling with who to vote for, I’ll stay with my Episcopalian vows and encourage you to consider the Baptismal vow to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself”. Ask yourself if the candidates you are supporting are truly seeking to serve all people, or just the interests of their friends.

So, just as I thank those who have supported Kim and I in our married life together, I want to thank everyone who has supported me during my campaign for State Representative. No matter who gets elected this evening, I’ve already won. Kim and I have already won. All of us have already one by supporting one another in standing up for what is right and good.

Thank you!

The Funeral Home and the Voting Booth

Below is my speech to the Valley Democratic Breakfast this morning. I normally compose my speeches in my head beforehand. Often, I write them down, and present them “as prepared for delivery”. Today, I didn’t get a chance to write it down ahead of time, and so is more of a “reflection after delivery.”

Two years ago, I stood before you days after my mother died in Hurricane Sandy. You supported me and I greatly appreciate it. You supported me as a candidate, but more importantly, you supported me as a friend, as a fellow human, in my grief, because that is what we do.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot since then and come back to the question, why are we here? Alicia Keys has a new song out where she attempts to answer that question. She is expecting her second child and when asked why she is here, responded. “We are here. We are here for all of us. That’s why we are here.”

Yes, that is why we are here. We are here for all of us. We are here for people seeking access to quality health care. We are here for people seeking better education and better jobs. We are here to support each other, in grief and in working for better communities. That’s why we are here.

We are here to support Gov. Dan Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, our constitutional officers, and State Legislators, people like Joe Crisco, Linda Gentile and Theresa Conroy, people who have worked hard to help all of us access better health care, attend better schools and find better jobs.

I hope every gets out and shows their support this election day.

Just as you supported me in my grief two years ago, this year, I’ve been supporting others in their grief. My mother-in-law’s brother and mother both died this year and I’ve spent a bit of time at funeral homes. Funeral homes are not one of my favorite places to be. It is inconvenient to juggle schedules to get to funeral homes, but it is how we show our support for our family, friends, and neighbors.

There is another place that too many people don’t go to often enough, their polling places. It is inconvenient to go to a polling place, but it is where we go to show our support – not just support for candidates, parties, or policies – but support for one another and for our form of Government.

So, please, take the time on Tuesday to get out and vote. Get your family, friends, and neighbors to get out and vote. It’s that important.

Postscript: Before I spoke, I learned that Nina Poeta, a Seymour teen who had been battling brain cancer had passed away. Afterwards, I learned that Barbara Nappier, mother of CT Treasurer Denise Nappier had also passed away.

This Is Voting

I’ve written about David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water" before. Today, a friend shared it again on Facebook, and I stopped and listened to it, and thought about the coming election.

There is just over a week until election day and I am exhausted. I door knock, put out campaign signs, work on mailers, talk with voters, all while trying to care for my family and do my regular job. It is a choice I have made. David Foster Wallace talks about choices in his speech.

The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default-setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way

This is what voting is about. Yes, all the crappy negative campaign ads on television are annoying. The phone calls, and the direct mail, and having a politician walk up your driveway to shake your hand can be annoying. It is easy to get lost the rants online from our partisan friends. We can get caught in thinking it is all about ourselves. Even worse, we can go vote for people based on how well they will defend our petty little lives and biases. Or, we can make a conscious decision.

If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important — if you want to operate on your default-setting — then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren’t pointless and annoying. But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars — compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t.

Think, pay attention, seek compassion and love, and then, get out and vote.

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