Is there a candidate waiting in the wings, ready for their entrance to come on stage for the 9th Congressional District? Current Representative Dan Meuser is ready to run for re-election on the Republican ticket. No Democrat candidate has filed as of this writing. There’s little time left before the April 28 primary. Filing deadline is Feb. 18. You only need a $150 filing fee, your nomination paper, and a nomination petition containing a minimum of 1,000 signatures. I’ve asked the Pennsylvania Democratic Party several times if they have recruited and backed a candidate. They’ve thanked me for my inquiry and solicited a donation. Perhaps I should contact the county parties (Berks, Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill) to see if they have a candidate ready to run. You’d think somebody was on the ball.
Sure, Meuser is the incumbent. Sure, it would be tough to defeat him in November. So? Is winning the seat the only purpose to stand a candidate? Isn’t it also the chance to voice policies, debate the kind of United States we wish our children to inherit, raise civic awareness, influence the voters and invigorate more voters (whether Democrats, independents, unaffiliated, uninterested or real Republicans) to support whoever challenges Trump for the presidency?
The Saturday before Christmas we had the pleasure of being introduced to a young man who is running in the primary to become the Democratic candidate for the 10th Congressional District. It was at a local "Meet and Greet" held here in Mahoning Township. Our hosts offered nibbles, beverages and sandwiches. We mingled, we chatted. The young man spoke and answered questions in the living room. It was classic retail politics with youthful energy.
Why was he talking to us here in Montour Country? He explained how he may be from Hershey, but if he is chosen to the U.S. House of Representatives, he serves all of us. "Meet and Greet" also means fundraiser. He mentioned how he began his campaign in February 2019. He was well coached by veteran campaigners. He discovered he needed $100,000 to jump-start his campaign. He predicted it would take a million dollars to be competitive. It’s easy to become critical about money in politics, harder is to be realistic given current climate and rules. Advertisements, staff, commercials, fliers, transportation, phones – they cost. Can we gripe today, given that the average price to attend a prom is about $1,000?
The young man, Tom Brier, was smart, articulate, personable and down-to-earth. He’s an athlete and author. My gut says we’ll hear more about him in the future. We need fair and fresh politicians of caliber, temperament, courage, commitment, integrity and intelligence. My spider-sense tingled that he possesses that rare leadership gene. I felt confident that he has the courage to do what is right when right is required. I appreciated his moderate pragmatism when it came to discussing policies, domestic and foreign. I liked how, given today’s acrimonious feuds and negativity, he trusts us to do our duty as citizens of this Republic to be engaged, active, questioning, learning. He’s banking on his conviction that we citizens are fed up with the reckless extremism of Trump on the right and Ocasio-Cortez on the left. Isn’t it amazing how similarly noisy those two are? I prefer positive common sense. We require candidates wise enough to reject imbalanced ideology. We want purveyors of the possible.
What I most appreciated about this young man was his sense of calling to a political profession. If I weren’t aware that envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, I could be jealous of this young man and his ambition to serve the public good. I confess a public secret: My youthful ambition was to enter politics. I dreamt of becoming a senator. I might have pursued that path had I not been sidetracked by the Civil Rights and the anti-Vietnam War movements. I found my calling not in legislation but in souls transformed by the Gospel.
In my tradition of the Reformed Faith, the highest calling a person could receive from God would be to shoulder the duty of politics and become a public servant. Yes, the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution are documents that express the social and political will of Reformed Theology. There is honor in the elected obligation of governmental leadership. What could be a greater honor than to protect the people’s inalienable rights, to insure domestic tranquility, to maintain justice for all?
Refreshing, isn’t it?
The Rev. Robert Andrews is retired pastor of Grove Presbyterian Church in Danville. Read more of his work at robertjohnandrews.com.