Why I'm Running
Edited By: Hannah Castellaneta
Hello, I’m Keegan Damron, the Democratic nominee for District 11 State Representative. You’re probably asking the same question that everyone has asked me since I started my campaign: why? Well, the answer is quite simple. Foremost, after years of talking stridently about my political views, even when I was, in retrospect, wrong, I’ve decided that my comprehensive knowledge of government and policy was better used to help the common good than to yell at folks on Facebook. Do I think that I’m smarter or better suited than anyone else and that’s why I chose to run? To simply put it: no. The fact of the matter is, that if I hadn’t been told by a progressive congressional candidate back in January that the Democrats had basically given up on my district and were going to just let the Republican candidate run unopposed then I wouldn’t have run. I simply couldn’t allow the Democratic process to be thrown out the window because it was believed that flipping this district is too hard. I graciously accept the challenge. I have been approached before about running, but I’ve been employed in such a way that stepping away for a campaign wasn’t an option. In all reality, running really isn’t that feasible of an option for me now while simultaneously holding down a full-time job, limited resources, and face to face campaigning being a virtual impossibility since I work in the medical field. I grew up in a conservative household and for the most part, other than cultural inferences, the people around me were apolitical. The exception being, of course, every four years when everyone became obsessed with blue versus red and I was almost always told one way or the other was the better of the two. To say the whole house was conservative wouldn’t be true. My grandmother, while a seemingly staunch Republican voter, did seem to be accepting of the more liberal social views of society, and I even had an aunt that voted for John Kerry. The things I was told I accepted as fact. I thought the ideas they told me were almost completely inconsequential to my life entirely. This was until high school when my lifelong obsession with history started to reveal things about the American past that didn’t sit well with my innate worldview. These discoveries only strengthened my resolve to defend those ideas that I had been told since I was a child were “right”. Living in Indiana and entering high school just three years after 9/11, it was very easy to find confirmation of my biases. That was until I began to play music. I started to be exposed to ideas that I had never known were possible to even hold. The first band that truly shocked my senses was NOFX, but the subsequent discovery of bands like The Specials, The Dead Kennedys, Anti-Flag, Leftöver Crack, and so many more would show me that I may have to figure out not only what I believe exactly, but why I believe it. To clarify, this is not me co-signing onto any suggestions made by the bands named above, but rather me stating that their messages were so drastically different than that of Garth Brooks, or Metallica, or really any other piece of pop-cultural music that I heard up to that point. This broadening of my horizons ideologically would admittedly lead me around some winding and dead-end roads. However, I blame that less on my ability to reason and more on my uncertainty coupled with a lack of self-confidence. After high school, I went straight on to college and my obsession with history was now met with critics that I had never encountered before. Suddenly, the professors were giving perspectives that were unrestrained. They gave suggestions on books to read not as an assignment, but because they cared if you had access to the information or not. I’m sure you’re wondering why is all of this relevant to why I’m running now. Well, when I finally came to the conclusion that the ideas and ideology I had supported through my childhood were not what I thought they were, and that in fact, I had been standing for a position that I was then diametrically opposed to, I was angry. I still am to some extent. I even apologized recently to one of my teachers from high school because I knew I was a huge pain in his ass. Luckily, I was forgiven, but he is just one of many I feel so remorseful towards having to deal with the incessant and energetic youth I was. More tragically than being burned by ideology, this all made me distrustful of the institutions that were set in place. A feeling that was then nurtured by music, movies, television, and my peer group. I had the knowledge and context of someone who wanted to enact major change, but I had zero will to do so because I was successfully subverted into thinking that my voice, my vote, my opinion didn’t matter. In the words of Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, “I was a teenage anarchist,” and no one could explain to me how if the government was by the people and for the people then how could it so seldomly actually do anything we willed them to.
That was to be the way I would view politics until 2015. Bernie Sanders was up, until this point in 2015, a completely irrelevant person to me. I only bring him up to point out where the shift in my opinions began. If you would ask me who I thought was a “good politician” in DC before then, I’d have told you that phrase was an oxymoron. Then I saw him speak, not once, not twice, but every single time with integrity, with decency, and an unbending slant toward the greater good of the people. He spoke towards not just some, but all, and the ones he didn’t cater to reach were the ones his opposition did. I was dumbfounded. The first time I heard a presidential candidate saying that he thought billionaires by-in-large aren’t “good people” and I couldn’t believe someone was saying it and not being killed on the spot. I was equally surprised when I saw the response from most news outlets and those who I had trusted to tell me what, I thought at the time, was most in line with my political thoughts. They hated him. They denounced him almost uniformly. That showed me that once again the trust I had put into my created and superimposed ideology was misplaced. It was because I was tired of looking at our government as a monolithic structure that just casts shadows on those that laid its very bones and imposes its will that I am running. I’m here to tell you that with my campaign, that this is not the case. My campaign is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Our government, that is conceived under the notion that all people are created equal, has been time and time again tested as to whether or not a nation so conceived can endure as well. I’m running because “good politicians” may be hard to find, but if I can become one and have the opportunity to positively impact the world around me and didn’t then I would only be complicit in the system that I so ardently opposed when I was a teenage anarchist. I am tired of feeling disaffected. I am tired of so many people telling me the process of making change is such that we are to wait for it seemingly forever. I’m done asking for someone else to do the right thing. The people in power have done everything they can to sow this distrust. They have spared no expense in making sure that every teenage anarchist grows up into apolitical, ideologically nonsensical, and lowly informed voters. If you are reading this, I will not assume that you are one of those people, but I assure you that these clouts cut both ways on the political spectrum. Disenfranchisement by choice is often something used to cast judgment while feeling unrepresented, which only further shrinks the number of people possibly sympathetic to a cause. If you don’t believe me, look at the percentages of people that do not vote versus those who do in presidential elections. In the down-ballot races, I can guarantee that those numbers do not get any closer and those are the people who will be more directly affecting other people. I want to show that it is possible to make yourself heard and show those who aren’t apolitical that it is possible to enact change with your vote by electing someone who shares their passion. Someone, who at the very least, has the integrity to stand before those who would say no, and say yes. I do not wish to tell everyone or assume that I know what is best. However, I do know my own obsession with understanding and advocating for a better course of action is motivated by nothing more than a compulsion to do what is right for my fellow human beings. I have seen and experienced firsthand what financial instability can do to a person. I have seen that toil and strife will be met with more toil and more strife. I have known what it is like to wake up and feel hopeless and feel like taking control is so far out of reach that it might as well be a thought best forgotten. I want to show people that while that may be the way you feel right now that there is hope. For when an adversary seems to stand ten stories taller that you, as an individual, you can stand with others and be more imposing than anything that stood before you. I have to stress that I cannot and have not done this alone. I will not be like every other politician who comes before you and says they have the answers and they will “fix” whatever “it” is. I have no doubt that my efforts will be stifled and that the road ahead of me is rife with peril, but when you are advocating for the many and not the few who hold inordinate amounts of power, it is to be expected. If I have the support of many there is nothing that a few can do. As a representative, I want to make that incontestable so that no one can ever question my intentions. When the people are actually represented by someone who shares not only their experiences but the same consequences for poor legislation, then you get better representation. If you haven’t looked over my platform or reached out with questions, please do. If you haven’t registered to vote, please consider doing so. If you are reading this and think someone else might benefit from my words, please share it with them. Finally, if you are someone who thinks that your right to vote is inconsequent, understand that while you may not be interested in politics, but that politics is interested in you. For one to forgo the ability to decide on what terms that interest will be enacted is, in fact, a vote in itself.