HILL: ‘Not Top 5’ reasons to avoid elected office

ESPN ran their ‘Not Top 10’ sports moments for 2017 which showed the bloopers and mistakes made over the past year in the sports world.

Have you ever heard the ‘Not Top 5’ reasons why people will not run for public office?

I run The Institute for The Public Trust which tries to find, recruit and train great people to run for public office across North Carolina.

We all acknowledge our need for the very best people in our communities and state to run our representative democratic government. It has been that way ever since the founding of our Republic in 1789 with Messrs. Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams, Washington and Franklin to name a few.

When sane people watch the news and see only the sordid side of politics, most say not only ‘No!’ when asked to run for city council, state legislature or Congress, but an emphatic ‘Hell no!’

Why should they? A candidate or incumbent has to raise money all the time; they have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and vicious attacks, sometimes true but many times not; and they basically have to take a vow of poverty to serve the public unless they are independently wealthy.

Want to run for the North Carolina General Assembly? The pay is $13,951 per year.

Here are 5 common reasons why good people don’t run for office:

5. ‘I am too busy’

Of course you are. You are busy at being great at what you are currently doing in your business, avocation, family and charity work. That is why we want you to take your immense talents and put them to work for the common good as our elective representative. Just like Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, Mr. Hamilton et al. before you.

4. ‘I don’t like to lose’

Of course you don’t. No one does. Does that exempt you from trying to run for public office where you could elevate the public debate and discourse because you actually know what you are talking about and, once elected, you can actually do something about the immense problems facing us?

3. ‘I don’t know the issues well enough’

If you are highly intelligent, talented, educated and experienced and don’t understand the big issues facing our state and country, you probably should stay on the sidelines and let someone less qualified take your rightful place in our elective representative government structure.

2. ‘I am afraid of the media’

Join the club. Hopefully, if you are as qualified as others think you are, you are not a felon; a miscreant; a liar; a chiseler; a deal-welsher; or a two-faced baboon as opponents called Abraham Lincoln, of all people. You should have no problem with the media if you are none of the above.

1. ‘I am sure someone else will do it so I won’t have to’

Have you been paying any attention at all to what has been going on in our collective elective government over the past 30 years or so? Name the top 10 people who have served in public office that you think were cut out of the same bolt of cloth as Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison or Mr. Hamilton long ago. There are not many most people can name off the top of their head.

We admire and salute everyone who has run for office and those who have been elected and served. It is a very tough job, hands-down one of the toughest “dirty” jobs anyone can ever undertake.

However, we need our best to serve. Mr. Jefferson considered public service to be the highest calling any person could be called to perform.

Help everyone by finding a good reason “to run for office.” Not away from it.