Editor’s Note: This weekly column is written by Jason Howell, former independent candidate for U.S. Congress. This is the second of three weekly opinion columns that ARLnow.com will be publishing in 2013. The columns, from local thought leaders across the political spectrum, are intended to introduce fresh ideas and spark community conversations about issues of local and state interest.
Long before there were political parties, there were independent minded individuals. Along the way, despite the warnings of the first elected Independent, President George Washington, party factions took over our political system. Today, they are strangling it. In Virginia, we don’t register to vote by party in part, I imagine, because we are citizens before we become partisans. That is the spirit of this column.
Beginning today, thanks to your thoughtful editor, ARLnow.com will host a regular column that pays tribute to the independent minded viewpoint founded in all of us. This column is called “Independent’s Day” and will celebrate one day a week when we can tackle local issues without partisanship. Unlike the 4th of July, which celebrates our independence as a country, on these published days we will celebrate our independence as citizens. Each is our day, hence the intentionally possessive title of the column.
Every column belongs to the reader rather than the writer. Like my 2012 campaign, all of my “wins” were yours. When I was asked to write this column I mentally added one win to that list. Serving Arlington and the entire 8th Congressional District of Virginia as a candidate was difficult but not hard. I enjoyed meeting so many of you as I knocked on doors, manned booths at festivals and stood at the Metro Stations.
Last Thursday, the 112th Congress left the stage and the 113th Congress was sworn in at noon. I looked really hard at the crowd on C-SPAN but my wife and I were not in it. Despite this rather cruel fact, I have committed to serve you in unelected ways and this column is one of those. I have also committed to stay as close to the issues as I was during the campaign. Because we are a Republic, “we the people” are responsible for the outcome of our country. I believed that during our campaign and that gave me the courage to run as an Independent for United States Congress. I believe that now, as a lay citizen of the country and Arlington resident.
ARLnow.com readers are some of the sharpest thinkers in the county. I can surmise this by your razor sharp sense of humor and your follow up research in many of your article comments. You will be happy to know that many of your neighbors are also as sharp, thoughtful and interested in keeping our neighborhoods some of the best places to live in the world. I have been asked to focus this column on local and state issues rather than the federal issues that consumed most of my campaign. Thankfully, there are many of these issues and I am excited to share an independent-minded perspective.
It is harder to be non-partisan. Not just in a campaign but when filtering the news sources and statistics that are often created by “special” interests. I will do my best to remain apolitical when analyzing the issues discussed in this column. I know you will do your part in keeping me honest.
Thank you for reading this far, caring about Arlington, Virginia and the country. Your citizenship will help us get past the partisanship. With your continued attention, we will always be better tomorrow than we were yesterday.