You should run for the Florida Legislature in 2010.
Yes, you. Why not?
No doubt you can answer that question. "I'm busy with my life" is a good answer. "I would lose my job" is a good answer, too.
On the other hand, I hear from smart people all the time who don't like the way things are going. I ask again: Why not, then? Florida needs you.
This is a serious proposition, which is why I am bringing it up in early January even though the formal qualifying doesn't begin until June. These things take time.
Are you worried you aren't qualified? Really? How much worse a job would you do? I mean, even if you ran on a platform that said:
I promise to make snap judgments about Florida's long-term future based on slogans, obey my party bosses in Tallahassee no matter what, attack the environment, maintain an unfair tax structure, do favors for big campaign donors, and run Florida's higher education system smack into the ground.
Heck! You would already be just as good as most of 'em.
It does not really matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat, a tax cutter or a tree hugger. The main thing is that you be a nonsheep with your own brain who promises not to follow blindly the Democrats or Republicans already up there. Unfortunately, this is a lot harder than it sounds.
C'mon. It'll be fun.
Of course, a few warnings are in order.
First: You probably aren't going to win, especially if you are running against an insider. Do it anyway.
Second: You can't run as an amateur. You need some clear idea of what it is you want to do, and that has to go beyond "fighting crime" or "keeping taxes low" or "good schools" or that kind of pap.
Third: Did I mention that you can't run as an amateur? That goes for the nuts-and-bolts campaign, too. You have to get good advice on how to run one to be credible.
Fourth: You need money from other people. You do not need to match the insider dollar for dollar — I'd say that $1 can beat $5, although I doubt that $1 can beat $10. But the cruel reality is nobody takes you seriously without some money.
Fifth: On the other hand, the very act of getting money starts the process of selling your soul.
Now suppose, miracle of miracles, you actually become a credible candidate. Two other things are going to happen to you.
One is that people are going to take a whack at you. It might be the other party, turning you into a devil or an idiot in attack ads. It might be media coverage — your skeletons are relevant, all of 'em. Think now about how you will deal with it. Otherwise, accept it, know that what other people say does not make you a bad person, and stay focused.
Last, here is the worst thing of all. If you do become a serious candidate, then Tallahassee will reach down to try to co-opt you on the front end, supplying you with money and "advice" and prepping you for how to vote once you get elected. This is your most dangerous threat. And few really withstand it.
Since I am telling you what to do, the question might have occurred to you: "All right, Mr. Hypocrite, why don't you do it?" I plead Good Reason No. 2 from up above, and would like to think I'm more useful here. But I'm only 50 and increasingly cranky, so you never know.