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Campaigning and Living in the Present

March comes to a close today and somehow we start the fourth month of 2022 tomorrow. Time passes impossibly fast and will only continue to accelerate as we lurch closer to the dog days of election season this summer.

Another flip of the calendar for me is yet another reminder to try to live presently. Too often I get caught up in comparing what I am doing now to where I was a previous year or trying to project where I am headed in the future, usually with the precision of someone five beers deep lining up his aim at the bar’s dart board.

Reflection can be useful and planning has its place, but to live presently - to be in the moment - that is the ultimate goal.

The Just Wright Citrus blog spent much of the early part of the week speculating how past performance in financial reports would predict future success. This is an exercise in futility.

It was also an odd time to write an analysis of financial reports. Each report is due on the 10th of each month until we get closer to election season though some candidates file before that and the reports go live almost instantaneously. Therefore, the data that was analyzed on Monday is at least over two weeks old and could potentially be updated by the end of the same week it’s reported if a candidate filed his or her report on the first day of the new month tomorrow.

One reasonable explanation for the strange timing would be if the writer is out of other topics to talk about, and while this seems like a stretch, it appeared that was the case. Two columns on Monday and Tuesday were written about financial reports, the column Wednesday was about a social media comment that had been made during the week, and the piece today opens, “whenever I’m between topics or otherwise stumped for an idea, I count on commission email” confirming that topic selection has been a problem.

While struggling to figure out what to write about is a bad reason to report on out-of-date data, it could be redeemed with solid analysis. Unfortunately this left much to be desired as well.

Some people view elections like an Easter egg hunt. Candidates compete with each other going around to contributors and voters picking them up and putting them in their basket. Sometimes candidates will dive for the same egg, but inevitably only one walks away with it.

This is not at all how elections work. Picture them instead like much more of a race, and since long-time readers of the Concurrent will know my love of rowing, we’ll call it a race between two competing rowing boats.

The starting gun for this race doesn’t begin until the second week of June. This is the last day for candidates to qualify to get their name on the ballot by paying the filing fee, and it is not unusual to have a couple of candidates wait this long to get into the running.

After the race begins, some boats jump out to an early lead. This could be the result of truly being the faster boat, but it could also be circumstantial that the rowers are initially stronger but lack endurance to stay competitive the entire length of the course.

I coach my rowers to stay in the present in their races for this reason. Even if they fall behind early, the rowers can have the confidence in their ability to execute their race plan to change the tides by the end of the race. The only stroke in which a boat has to lead is the last one. All previous past performance is irrelevant until that point.

Floating the idea that a campaign can be judged on its overall pace by how it begins is simply a misunderstanding of how races work.

We sometimes forget how politically involved we are. If you are reading this, then you certainly fall into a special category beyond the effort that most people are willing to contribute to knowing about their civil society.

But this can also have some detrimental effects. We want to talk about the narratives we create with others and these other hyper passionate people make things that are not real seem true.

The best we can do is live in the moment. The heart of election season will be here soon enough, but to focus on the past or future now is pure speculation.


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