Phase 1: Ask people to sign my petition to get on the ballot.
Phase 2: Get elected.
Every day I ask people to sign the form that allows me to get on the ballot. My goal is 10,000 signatures. That way I have far more than is needed because the Election Office will undoubtedly reject some of them for being unreadable or invalid .
How many signatures do I need? I’ve been saying 7,000 but it’s hard to know for sure. So my stretch goal is 10,000.
We are now a few weeks out from the collapse of the Biden administration’s plan to require nearly everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine. On January 26, 2022, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration formally withdrew their emergency temporary standard . This was just after the Supreme Court shot down the rule , which followed a bunch of lawsuits filed by various states last November .
Why did the vaccine mandate fail? The answer is, in fact, profoundly simple:
If people do not trust you, they will not follow you.
Millions upon millions of Americans do not trust this administration. Millions upon millions did not trust the previous administration, and there is a lot more overlap than you might think among those two groups.
There are many well-reasoned arguments about why a vaccine mandate is a good idea  but people don’t care about the quality of your argument if they don’t trust you. There is, of course, a long history of vaccine mandates in America , not to mention all kinds of other mandates like seat belts and traffic laws and food labeling and registering for the draft but again precedent doesn’t matter if people don’t trust you.
It gets even worse. Because if people don’t trust you and you try to make them do something…they will trust you even less.
This is where we are. We do not trust, so there is a patchwork of rules. Some employers require vaccines, others do not. Some schools require masks, others do not. There are entire cities where you have to show your vaccine paperwork to enter a restaurant, and other places where that would be unthinkable.
We don’t know who to trust, and for the most part, we don’t trust anyone we don’t know. And that decision is for good reason: over and over again, our leaders have proven that they do not keep their word and do not act with integrity.
This is why the mandate failed. And it’s why so many institutions—including our government—are failing us as well.
Trust is the answer. But only if we can find leaders who are worthy of it.
In March of 1891, eleven people were brutally murdered by a mob in New Orleans. The crowd that killed them numbered in the thousands. Those who committed the atrocity were never punished. The next day, The New York Times published an editorial praising this act, calling those who had been killed “sneaking and cowardly”, “descendants of bandits and assassins”, and “a pest without mitigation.” The Times continued, “Our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they…Lynch law was the only course open to the people of New Orleans.”
The eleven were murdered because of widespread hatred of their identity. They were Italian-Americans.
The reason I tell this story is precisely because it is not especially relevant. I come from Italian-American ancestors myself, but the events in New Orleans a century ago are not something I learned about growing up. Anti-Italian sentiments have almost entirely vanished from our culture. Whether you can tie your own heritage to Italy or not, we all generally agree: beyond the occasional joke, being Italian-American in 2022 does not put you at any disadvantage.
But today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today we honor the man who is most associated with the modern Civil Rights movement, from the 1950s to the present day. Today we remember Montgomery and Birmingham, the March on Washington, and Bloody Sunday. We remember an assassination that shook the country, and the many events and leaders that were inspired by Dr. King in the decades since.
The near total irrelevance of being Italian-American on this day brings into sharp focus the profound, ongoing relevance of being African-American every day. Because we all agree about the modern-day experiences of Americans with Italian ancestry. But we do not agree, not at all, about the lives of black Americans. Based on a survey of over 6,000 people, Frank Newport of Gallup writes:
Only 18% of blacks are satisfied with the way blacks are treated in this country today, compared with 51% of whites who say they are satisfied with the way blacks are treated .
The analysis becomes only more harrowing the deeper you dig. According to Pew Research, 84% of people who lean Democrat believe “white people benefit a fair amount (or more) from advantages in society that black people do not have.” Only 28% of people who lean Republican agree. 
This is why the issue of racism persists in America. It’s because the American people do not agree on modern-day reality of racism. And the data shows no discernible trend. For twenty years now, black and white Americans have been at least 20 percentage points apart on this question. We cannot address an issue if we don’t have a shared understanding on what the issue even is.
I am not here to convince you that racism today is worse, or not as as bad, or exactly what you thought it was. Nor do I think that national polls will be compelling to everyone in an era where so many of us no longer trust institutions.
But I do believe, upon reflection, that you’ll find you agree: we are far, far apart. And to find a way forward, we all must come together. Even if that means admitting that we do not know.
According to the authorities, there were 16,563 new cases of COVID-19 last Thursday in Indiana. I was one of them.
Like many Americans, I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know who to trust. When I got the text, I left the event I was at and went home.
I could go in for a second test to confirm, but that’s not what’s recommended . I only have one symptom (headache), but there are so many officially listed  that it would be surprising if I didn’t have one. The guidance from the CDC is that I isolate for five days, and then reevaluate .
In the meantime, almost everyone I talked to in the days before doesn’t cross the official threshold for “close contacts” so it’s not clear how I got COVID . Or even, given the false positive rate of the tests, if I really do have it at all .
What I am supposed to do? Right now, 16,000 of my fellow Hoosiers are making this same decision. They are balancing how sick they feel versus their need to work and earn a living. They are calculating the number of days they have remaining and scrambling for masks and medication. They are digging through medical studies and conflicting press reports, trying to make sense of the news they just received. And they are telling others—or not telling them—that they had a positive test.
As for me, I am going stay home. I am cancelling appointments and pulling back from campaigning and other work. That’s always the safest thing to do if you might be sick and might be infectious—if you can do it.
But not everyone has that option. And even those that do, many aren’t so sure about what the government and media are saying. Which leaves most Americans in the same place we have been for almost two years: unclear about the nature and scale of this pandemic, the effectiveness of the interventions, and wondering what incentives and motivations are getting in the way of the truth.
Without trust, there is no way forward. There is only retreat into the relatively safety of isolation. Which, for the next five days, is what I suppose I will do.
As a kid in the Scouting program, I went to Philmont in rural New Mexico. This is a rite of passage for many young people. Over 30,000 adventurers make the trek annually, lugging heavy backpacks and dried food through the rugged terrain.
It’s been thirty years but I do remember the trip. I remember hiking in wet socks, the root beer at the Abreu cantina, the bonus day at Rich Cabins. And I can recall the eccentric personalities of our crew, ever magnified by the discomforts of a week in the backcountry.
But I also distinctly remember something which happens on most every trip where you climb and climb and climb. Eventually, after slogging through endless monotony, you reach a summit. A vantage point. And from there, you can see vast distances, and often much of the path you took to reach your goal.
From the top of the mountain, we have a different perspective than we did when stumbling through the dense woods. And that’s what our country is sorely lacking at this time: a sense of perspective. We are obsessed with the drama of the current moment, when what we need is to take a longer view. We shouldn’t be panicking about issues, but asking questions: like how we got here, what choices were made in the past, and what lessons we can learn from history.
Because, not much is new. People have been talking about the wealthiest 1% from the days of Andrew Carnegie to the time of Elon Musk. Debates have raged about organized labor from the Pullman Strike of 1894 to the unions at modern-day Amazon warehouses. And every time there has been an outbreak of a virus: from smallpox in the American Revolution to the waves of cholera, scarlet fever, the Spanish Flu, and now COVID-19—every time there has been an outbreak we have had fierce arguments about quarantines, vaccinations, inoculation passports, and individual freedoms. We have been here before.
That doesn’t mean that the answers are obvious. But it does show the power of perspective. And unlike all those trekkers to Philmont Scout Ranch, you don’t need to climb Mt. Baldy to get perspective. All you need to do is have some curiosity. Ask questions. Listen to others. Take time to learn about the past.
What we need is perspective. Three decades after that hike in the woods I am still searching for it. But the answer is the same as it has always been: slow down, watch your step, and look to those who have taken this path before. Perspective is how we see where we are. Perspective is what we require to decide what to do next.
It took me most of 2021 to realize something about myself. The reason I low-key blew up my otherwise good life to run for Congress is because of what happened one year ago. Last January 6th, a thousand people stormed the U.S. Capitol. That was a watershed moment for me. But not because it highlighted just how delusional so many Americans are about what is really happening in our country. Rather, because 1/6 proved that we aren’t listening to each other anymore.
Listening. Remember that? When people with different backgrounds and points of view would try to understand each other. When we would take their claims seriously. When we would investigate in good faith, and we would use the democratic process to find a workable compromise.
But we don’t listen any longer. That’s what 1/6 showed. Instead we all retreated to our respective corners, decided that the other side was nuts, and were convinced that the events of that day and the aftermath are further proof that we are right.
What would be hilariously ironic–if this were a time for comedy–is that nearly all of us agree on some basics. We agree that democracy is in mortal danger. We agree that some powerful people are ignoring the law and getting away with it. We agree that there is dangerous propaganda out there and that millions are falling for it.
We want our country back. The country where we, the people, were in control. Where those in public office did what they were supposed to do, and were held accountable if they didn’t. Where loyalty to each other, to our nation, to our allies—that meant more than allegiance to some political party.
America is in trouble. Our future is bleak. And the career politicians who got us here, most of them can’t be trusted to help us find the way.
That’s why I am running. Because the people who are supposed to lead our country are failing. If America is going to endure, it’s up to us.
Short answer: I think so, but we can’t be certain. And this is the wrong question anyway.
Long answer: I see three steps to a legitimate election, and we only hit two of them at best. Every other national election in my lifetime has been definitely legitimate according to these criteria. But not in 2020. Let me explain.
The design of the election process includes a bunch of features to prevent fraud and ensure privacy and security, such as audit trails, locked ballot boxes, and poll watchers.
Experts all over the country know how these systems work, acknowledge they are credible and effective—and make certain they are followed during the course of the election.
Virtually all of the rest of us believe the experts and trust the results when they are called.
For the 2020 election, we definitely had the first item on this list. If you voted in person, you saw many of these provisions first hand: signature and ID checks, paper ballots, etc. And if you dropped off a ballot or voted by mail you can certainly imagine how this is supposed to work. After all, people have paid their bills by mail for centuries. With careful procedures at the clearinghouse the money pretty much always gets applied to the right account. Votes can be counted correctly.
We also had #2. It’s easy enough to find statements from experts saying things like “[this] was the most secure election in American history .” These included people at all levels from both major parties, law enforcement agencies, court opinions, academics, and leading journalists .
But not that last one on the list. An enormous number of Americans do not believe the election was free and fair. That is, these Americans do not trust the preponderance of institutions and experts who say the election was free and fair. How many Americans are we talking about? Roughly a third of voters, according to the media and the pollsters . One in three of us.
This is very, very bad. And the mainstream political response—treating this minority  as if they are crazy—is only making the problem worse. Telling people they are falling for “The Big Lie” isn’t going to win them over. Instead it contributes to events like those of January 6. And let’s be clear, these Americans who increasingly believe their government is tyrannical are going to take their cues from the colonists who believed their government was tyrannical.
If we don’t do something about this growing distrust, it’s going to get worse for everyone.
There are options, and I think we still have hope. The first step is to name the problem. If a third of the country thinks the last election was a sham, a third of the country does not consent to being governed. That is the crisis. Lack of trust is the existential and immediate threat. It will tear our nation apart long before anything else that might concern you.
There is no work today that is more urgent than regaining the trust of all Americans. And that work begins with you: speaking out on what it would take for you to trust again.
This is the essential work for all of us. Thank you for reading.
 If loads of us don’t trust the institution of American elections, then how many of us trust the institution of opinion polls based on statistical sampling? Maybe because of distrust we’re not all truthful when answering the surveys.
People ask me every single day about the issues that matter to me most. It’s not climate change or gun control or education. It’s not healthcare or terrorism or taxes or inequality. It’s not racism or mandates.
The issue that matters, the only issue that truly matters any more, is trust. We don’t trust our leaders, we don’t trust our institutions, and we barely trust each other.
Without trust, nothing is possible. It is the essential foundation of a functioning economy, a civil society, an actual democracy. We need to be able to trust. We have to trust the expiration date on the milk, that the pharmacist gave us the right prescription, that the plumber is honest and competent.
We have to trust that our vote will be counted, and that the people who we elect will be honest and faithful.
Because if there is trust, there can be respect. With trust we can do anything. We can debate and discuss and negotiate and compromise on any issue. We can find a path forward if and only if we can trust each other. Trust enough to have real dialogue and make progress together.
But this crisis is dire. Our collective distrust is unprecedented. And the great experiment that is this country is what is at stake. We can all feel democracy crumbling around us. We all know that America itself hangs in the balance.
The only way out is through. And that’s why I’m running for Congress, not as a career politician or a partisan hack, but as a regular person who believes in the American people. It’s why I’m running without accepting donations, because trust must be earned, not bought. It’s why, I hope, you’re reading these words. Why you’re still reading them. Because you want to trust someone again: trust them to listen, to be honest, and to serve others.
Trust is the only way we can save our country. And right now, as the person taking in these words, that power is in your hands. If you think I might be someone you’re able to trust, then pass this along.
My name is Robby Slaughter. I am running for Congress. This is my message.
The Constitution of the United States does not have much to say about the job for which I am now applying. In Article I, Section 2, there are three requirements:
You must be at least 25 years old.
You must have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years.
Upon your election, you must be an inhabitant of that state.
This is unlike other positions in our society. Doctors and attorneys must complete an accredited educational program, pass a difficult state exam, and maintain an active license. So must teachers and cosmetologists, architects and civil engineers, pilots and nurses. In the State of Indiana, massage therapists must have 625 hours of supervised classroom and hands-on instruction. To join the military, a candidate must meet physical requirements and earn a sufficient score on the ASVAB–the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
Running for Congress, however, is something most anyone can do. Getting elected is about getting votes. Whether or not I am qualified to serve is not about the approval of test makers, but the approval of the people.
Approval can only be sought earnestly through humility. I am not qualified to serve in Congress. No one is. No amount of study nor any set of life experiences can prepare a person to represent their fellow citizens. That requires something far more difficult than passing an exam or convincing a small panel of experts. To serve in Congress with honor one must be trusted by the people, and trust must be earned.
I believe you should trust me and I’ve answered this question here before. I’ve talked about how trust in politicians is short supply. This is, I believe, a qualification of sorts. I am writing and sharing my views. As of this moment, eleven months before Election Day, I have 72 blog posts. I am launching an issues section on this site next week with over ten thousand words and dozens of videos. Trust is about transparency and politicians don’t often commit to sharing what is on their mind. I aim to be different.
I believe you should trust me because I have worked to be a contributing member of our community. I have served on various non-profit boards and volunteered, worked jobs and run a small business. Ask most anyone who knows me, and they will likely agree that I have made a significant, positive impact in the places I have been. But trust is also about honesty. My record, as is everyone’s, is not flawless. I have made mistakes and certainly have my professional and personal regrets. And while I do not see a benefit in broadcasting the errors of my past, I will answer when asked. This is not what politicians often do. I aim to be different.
I believe you should trust me because of my dedication. We all know the relief of a team member that shows up and does their part. Of a loved one that calls when we are struggling. Of the friend who is on time to meet for coffee. This is the person I try to be, and it is the person I want to be for the people of our district in Congress. If we have been friends on Facebook, you know that I have asked a Question of the Day virtually every single day for over ten years . Trust is about reliability. I believe you can count on me. This is not what politicians often do. I aim to be different.
I am not qualified to serve in Congress. No one is. But I do seek a sliver of your time and attention. To share my thoughts and listen to yours. To travel throughout the district and show you the person I am.
Because there is one qualification that is real and essential: yours. You are qualified to make a decision. Each and every day you get to decide if I am the candidate you trust.
Every year, we celebrate. Families travel across the county or the country to be together. Friends assemble and recipes are dusted off. We rush to stores and dig through our pantries to get the perfect ingredients. And for one long day, we give thanks. This is Thanksgiving.
Of all of the American cultural traditions, Thanksgiving stands alone. It is a modern remembrance of a harvest festival from exactly 400 years ago. The story about that event is one we all learned in grade school: a group of the first European settlers arrived the year before at Plymouth Rock, endured a harsh winter, but survived through the generosity of the local indigenous people. As a symbol of gratitude, those who survived hosted a feast of friendship. And ever since then, we Americans have done the same.
Not much of that story is true. The Pilgrims arrived on the continent four centuries after the Vikings and ninety years after the first British colonists. That winter was mild. And the Wampanoags were far more strategic in their engagement with the Pilgrims, as their community had already spent the last twenty years dealing with the annual landing of English ships. Also, we didn’t really start celebrating Thanksgiving as Americans until after the Civil War.
The real history, albeit fascinating, is not what matters. Today we are doing something which we admittedly should always be doing. Reconnecting, relaxing, and most importantly: giving thanks.
Thanks that today, we are able to be with each other.
Thanks that while we could always have more, today we have enough.
Thanks that we have a past to study, and a future to create.
And thanks that what we do not need for ourselves, we can choose to pass along to others.