I used to think of myself as unelectable. So when, from time to time, I’ve been encouraged to run for some local elected office I’ve always declined. While I do agree that we should have more CPAs and financial managers in public offices, I’m just not convinced that I’m the one. The problem, I thought, was that my past made me unelectable in today’s political process that exposes the dark corners of a candidate’s life.
First of all, my business has had plenty of ups and downs over the decades and I went through a long period of disability before I declared bankruptcy. In total, I’ve lost about 12 years’ work and income from a combined three different long-term injuries. I’ve had several slow times when it was tough to keep up with property taxes and at least three times where I’ve had tax liens issued on my homes. (There will likely be more tax liens to come as I deal with the shocking tax increases on commercial properties that we’ve faced in NJ lately).
I’m proud to be involved in occasional peaceful protests as a citizen activist. One of those protest resulted in my detainment and issuance of a citation for disorderly conduct (that was later dismissed).
I was ineffective in dealing with a conflict between my actual income that reflects my personal values as a volunteer community service worker and the substantial time spent at home with our children vs. what a judge thought I should have been earning if I tried to maximize my income. He based my child support order on more than twice the amount I have ever actually earned. After a few years is was apparent that the judge had won that battle. I wound up in jail for 5 days.
I was also asked to resign from a position as high school wrestling coach at a private conservative Christian school based on my outspoken statements to a Philadelphia news reporter criticizing the Philadelphia police raid of former private adult couples club called Kama Sutra on South Street. My position was that city officials should not exercise their moral values though the licensing and permitting process of a private business.
Then a few years later in a troubling domestic incident involving a house guest, I grabbed a 35 year old male by the shirt collar and threatened him after learning of his sexual act targeting a 17 year old girl. I threatened him with serious bodily harm if he approached the girl again. The man retaliated in local court with a citizens’ criminal complaint against me. I admitted exactly what I did without remorse and was found guilty of criminal harassment.
So there it is, all the ugly: bankruptcy, jail time, tax delinquency, disruptive social activism, publicly supporting non-traditional adult freedoms and a criminal conviction. All stuff that used to be used effectively to shame people out of a role in public office.
In the world we knew until recently, any single one of these incidents alone could be a barrier to being elected to a public office. But the emerging federal kakistocracy makes it clear that there is no character flaw that makes a person unelectable today. The president-elect is indirectly associated with hundreds of civil fraud cases, sex scandals, as well as ongoing IRS and state tax cases. As Trump said, even murder would not keep his people from casting their support. I suspect that going forward America will have a whole new way of looking at its candidates for office.
Am I still unelectable? I’ll still don’t care to know.