I would never run for Congress. Not even if you paid me a million dollars. There is nothing about it that whets my chops. For starters, it takes a kind of courage to be that public. Plus, I’m conflict avoidant and I want everyone to like me. Also, I don’t remember facts, and I would never vote for or against anything because I think every perspective has merit. So there you have it. I’m going to keep my day job.
But thankfully there are some really smart, strong, strategic, compassionate people who do not feel the way I do. Like Bryan Caforio.
I met Bryan on Sunday. My friends, Pam and Evan Kaizer hosted a fundraiser for him in their home in Studio City. He’s a thirty-something year old attorney who is running for Congress from the 25th district in California. He’s running because he wants to make a difference in the lives of the folks who live in that district. I’m guessing it may take a bit of courage to take this on. I don’t know. I didn’t ask him. But how could it not be a stretch? Congressional races are never pretty. People say mean spirited things. They lie. I imagine you need a thick skin, a single-minded commitment, and an unrelenting desire to make a difference.
And that’s why Bryan decided to run. He’s passionate about making a difference in his district. Not just a little bit, but a lot.
There were about fifty people sitting thigh to thigh, in Pam and Evan’s living room and spilling out into the kitchen. We were listening intently as Bryan talked about the district–how he’s been knocking on doors. How he’s been listening to the needs and concerns of folks in the district. How, for many who opened their door, this was the first time a candidate had been in their neighborhood.
We listened, grateful to be sitting in an air-conditioned house, protected from the “unusual” 108-degree heat just outside the sliding glass doors. Bryan talked about climate change and jobs and health care. He was articulate, level-headed, and had a good grasp on both the big picture and the local needs.
I felt a sense of exhilaration sitting there in that room. Like I was on the ground floor of democracy. That I could support someone like Bryan; that he could go on to Washington to amplify a voice of civility, integrity, and rationality. That he could be a voice for his community.
It takes courage to run for Congress—especially now. It takes courage to stand solid in your integrity. To be a person of character. Yet, it is what we are aching to see modeled—in our own lives, and in the lives of our leaders. We are aching for people who have the highest and best interests of all parties. People who play well with others. People who are kind, brave, honest, and respectful.
It takes courage to run for Congress—especially now. You couldn’t pay me to do it. But I’m on the team that is lifting people of character onto a bigger stage. I’m part of the village that is raising the bar. I’m discovering that courage can be contagious.