No Stranger than Fantasy Football

I have a little game I like play, which I call How would I explain this to an extraterrestrial?

Whenever I learn something new about a topic, I literally think “If aliens came to Earth and they happened to ask me about this, how could I best answer?”

I love a short, clear explanation. I think this, the explainer game, may be my favorite hobby. And it is a key factor in my interest in running for the House of Representatives. We all benefit when someone can give us a quick, fair summary of an issue or topic. I think that’s something I can bring to the conversation.

I have many different interests. You do too. But sometimes, it’s easy to feel embarrassed (or snobby) about our hobbies. They can seem difficult to explain. We fear judgement or confusion from others. And so, we often keep them to ourselves.

Which brings me to fantasy football. Here’s what I might tell the Martians, if for some reason I was randomly given the sacred duty of outlining this one aspect of human culture.

Humans participate in a team sport called football. Fantasy football is a game of skill where participants design an imaginary team from the pool of all current players in an entire league. The fantasy game is played out by tracking the athletes’ real-world performances on their real-world teams (and trading players with other fantasy football gamers), giving the game participants a glimpse of owning their own football team.

I do not play fantasy football, but I feel this overview of the topic is balanced and accurate. Yet, to the outsider it can seem strange. Fake teams? Fake trades? How is that fun?

Of course, it is fun for those who play. And the explainer game is fun for me. And you might be interested in knitting or Buster Keaton movies or rap music or makeup. None of these is stranger than fantasy football. And fantasy football isn’t any stranger than any of these.

As this campaign continues, I am happy to talk about my personal interests. I am sure they will come up. If it helps you to trust me to know my favorite artists, my favorite podcasts, or my other fascinations, let me know.

But even if we don’t like the same board games, even if my hobbies seem strange to you or yours seem strange to me, you and I are still fundamentally connected. We both want our government to do good things and not do bad things. We both want to feel happy, secure, and free.

But to understand what our government is and is not doing, and to determine whether it’s good or bad, what we need is an explainer. Not a spin doctor or a non-answerer. Not someone repeating talking points and worn out slogans.

I’d like to continue to work to earn your trust. Explaining things feels like a great way to do that.

Ask me anything.

Bad Day at the Restaurant

I recently started a job waiting tables at a breakfast place in Carmel. A few weeks back, we had an absolutely terrible series of operational calamities. The kitchen was dramatically understaffed, key inventory was low, and we could not keep up. At one point ticket times ran to an hour, meaning that patrons who ordered food wouldn’t be eating for at least sixty minutes.

I had two tables get up and leave without paying for drinks and appetizers, disgusted with the wait. One of them cursed at me. The restaurant gave away meals and all of us apologized profusely. But angry comments still rolled in on social media. It was awful.

The eatery has only opened a few weeks before that, so the likely cause was simply growing pains. But I do think often about the diners who were unlucky enough to come in that day. Will they give us a second chance? Or are we burned for life?

A business marketing expert once told me that: “Word of mouth is always working. It might be working for you or against you, but it is always working.”

I accept that some people do not like me and would say bad things about me if asked. Some might volunteer them. But that is part of this process. I need you to talk about me. I need word of mouth to be working.

Not because of my ego, mind you, but because of the size of this project. For hundreds of thousands of people to fill in the bubble next to my name, those people need to hear that name. And if they hear it from you, that’s going to mean a lot more to them than if I interrupt their day with a paid advertisement.

And if they think I can’t be trusted, okay. I get it. I’ve had bad days. But I believe every person (and every restaurant) deserves a second chance. Because we are all still new. And we are all still growing.

So if you know me, talk about me. And if you don’t (which is obviously about million times more likely) then ask others about me.

I believe there are better days ahead. But only if we give each other a chance.

A Non-Controversial Controversy

If you want to buy a brand new iPhone, you have options. You can go to the Apple website, or to an Apple retail store. You can also get it from a carrier, like Verizon or AT&T, either at their location or on their website.

If you want to get plane tickets, you have options. You can go to the airline’s website, or their ticket counter at the airport. Or you can use a travel agent or a booking service like Expedia.

If you want to buy a brand new car, however, you must go to a dealership. You can’t buy it online from the manufacturer. Nor do any of them have retail stores. Nor are there other companies you can go to. New car? Go to dealership. That’s it.

This does not make sense. But it is a good analogy to help explain why our nation feels like a mess. We have a “free country” where anybody can do what they want, but we also have laws that limit who can sell particular goods and services.

The reason for this for car buying is that the car dealerships have powerful, well-funded lobbyists. And in 48 of 50 states, there are laws that ensure only dealerships can sell new cars to the public.

These laws go back generations. Advocates say they help protect local jobs and small businesses, as well as consumers. Opponents are opposed to regulation on principle . If these rules were changed, it’s hard to say what would happen. Maybe a lot; maybe almost nothing.

The reason I picked this example is partially because you probably don’t care about vertical integration in the consumer automotive business. Also, it’s mainly handled by state legislatures, which means even if I elected it I couldn’t do much about it.

I chose it because this is exactly the kind of obscure peculiarity of government that is absolutely everywhere. We are inundated by paperwork, regulatory process, and official policies. And it’s hard to say which ones are helping or hurting, or even how they work.

Running for Congress is asking you to trust me to look into this minutiae and to report back on what I find. It’s asking you to trust me to use my best judgment when you don’t have time to give me your opinion.

Because if you trust me, that doesn’t mean I’m always going to do exactly what you would do. But trusting me also means you believe I will be conscientious, take time to explain myself, and to listen.

And that’s the controversy. Why does it feel like our elected representatives aren’t doing any of that? Why does it seem like no one is doing a balanced, careful review of both new and long-standing policies?

Maybe it’s because most elected officials aren’t working for us. I think it’s time that changed. Do you?

We Should Talk About Q

The best thing to do first is whatever is the hardest. Okay. I’m going to write about QAnon.

It’s hard to know where to begin, because viewpoints on Q are so divided. Millions of Americans believe that millions of other Americans are being deceived. Something is seriously wrong here.

That’s probably a better way to talk about Q. I don’t think it’s helpful to call it a “conspiracy theory.” Instead: QAnon is one possible answer to the question that is on everyone’s mind.

The question is this: “How could all this be happening?”

I think this is something which keeps a lot of us up at night (or deep into it our distractions.) The major issues in the news today do not feel like the problems of yesteryear. There is chaos and calamity and what seems like nonsense at every turn. When we flip on the TV or go online, we don’t end up feeling informed. Instead—no matter how careful we are in our diet of news and other media—the result is distress.

How could all this be happening? QAnon presents a relatively straightforward answer: All of this insanity must be happening on purpose. Therefore, it’s a matter of tracking down who is pulling the strings, determining the nature of their crimes, and exposing them.

This is why the Q movement has had such dramatic growth and has not been derailed by fact-checking. Yes, there are many examples [1] of predictions that didn’t come true. But Q isn’t about verifiability. It’s about the widespread sentiment that powerful people can’t be trusted.

The exact details of who is supposedly doing what unspeakable act might seem crucial moment to moment. But in the long run what matters is “somebody must be pulling the strings” is a damned compelling answer to the question we are all asking. This is what QAnon is. It’s a dozen million people who believe they have been lied to.

There are several QAnon candidates for the next cycle [2]. But rather than join their number or dismiss them as crackpots, I would rather all of us keep asking the question.

How could all this be happening?

(The answer is: we don’t know who to trust.)



The Biggest Problem

Running for Congress as an Independent is not that hard. There will be some forms to fill out (in early 2022) and also some signatures to collect.

But winning is nearly impossible. And the reason for that is because of one word: scale.

The size of this project is huge. There are 585,000 people that I want to connect with. That’s the number of eligible voters. The election is next November. So that’s more than a thousand people a day.

There is an obvious solution. What typically happens in a run for U.S. Congress is that a ton of money is spent on advertising and canvassing. This is what tips the needle toward the R or the D. Not real conversations about how our laws and government work today and could be changed, but relentless attack spots on TV. Constant appeals for donations clogging social media timelines. No substance. Zero.

I think there’s power in everyday people saying “no thanks” to that playbook. Not another party hack running for office. Not more guilt-tripping you to hand over more of your own money.

This is where you come in. I can’t talk to 1,000 people a day. But you (all) can. You can share these little notes with your friends. You can post them on your social networks.

And it’s also time to start getting people together. Have a party in your backyard or living room and invite me. I just want 10 minutes to talk and take questions.

I think we’re all ready for something different. Let’s go.

It’s Not About Issues

A doctor, a teacher, an engineer, an accountant, and a firefighter are all sitting in a bar in the early afternoon.

The bartender realizes this, and asks all of them the same question. “Why are you here instead of working?”

It turns out they all have the same answer. They worked hard to get into their careers and then served for a few years, but then—-just as they were hitting their stride—-each forced to quit and find other forms of employment.

“Oh, I get it,” said the barkeep. “Term limits.”

This is not a funny joke. It’s a more of a little lesson. Term limits for politicians is one of the most popular policy ideas in modern history. But obviously, we like our doctors, teachers, engineers, accountants, firefighters, and everybody else to be able to get a decades plus of experience.

So why not politicians?

Oh, right. Because we don’t trust politicians. So nearly all of us want to limit their time in office.

This leads me to a point. Which is also not funny. Why are we talking about term limits, when we could be asking why can’t we trust our elected leaders?

Maybe we need to figure out how trust works first. That’s why I am starting right here, writing to you.

Let’s figure our how we can trust each other.

Why should I trust you?

I once heard about this as a job interview question. You know, such as:

  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • “What your biggest weaknesses?”
  • “Why should I trust you?”

Nobody has ever asked me that in a job interview, as far as I can recall. But wow. Why should I trust you? That’s a doozy.

But I think it is a good question for this campaign, which means, a good question for me. I need you to trust me.

I’ve thought about it. My answer has two parts.

First: you should trust me because your friends trust me. That is, please talk about me with them. Don’t learn about this campaign all alone and decide all alone if you love it/hate it/don’t care. Read these posts, pass them along and ask “hey, what’s your read on this dude?” Or if you know me, talk about me.

This is a risk. I have not led a perfect life. I have made some poor choices. I have former friends and former lovers and former coworkers, and some may have a negative view of me. I bet you have all of this and these people too.

But that’s okay. This campaign is about the truth, which means you should listen to all sides and make your own decisions.

Second, you should trust me because I care about the truth. I think most of us have learned the hard way that we’d rather hear the truth up front. I think I we all know we’re better off telling the truth right away.

Telling the truth is hard, and so is being willing to hear it. And the truth is often not what we want it to be. But we need it.

The truth about our country, our government, our society is that it’s complicated. The more someone insists they are right without a full explanation, the more likely it is that we aren’t hearing some crucial details.

That’s where we are.

As I was writing this post, I came across this pop-businessy article about how to know if someone is trustworthy.

Attn: Complaint Department

For as long as I can remember, politics has been about complaining. Listing off problems, dishing out insults, prophesizing dire consequences. But I hate complaints. I don’t like it when other people complain. I don’t like it when it’s pointed out that I’ve been complaining.

What I like are good questions. Because complaints lead to frustrations—-but questions were made so we can find answers.

Instead of complaining that President Whoever is causing gas prices to spike what about asking To what extent do Presidential actions impact gas prices? Instead of complaining that Congress does nothing what about asking What does Congress actually do?

This is a difficult change to make. Complaining is a lot less work than being curious. Complaining is easy: repeat the same thing you’ve heard before, whenever you want. But to ask questions, we must be have to be open minded and patient.

I’m trying hard to make this campaign about questions and not about complaints. The more we all whine, the worse it gets. Because a lot of people aren’t even complaining about politics any longer. A lot of people have given up on politics entirely.

I get it. And to be clear, I don’t expect everyone to know, say, the names of all nine sitting justices of the Supreme Court. That’s not what’s important.

What is important is having trust that the people doing the work at the Supreme Court, and in every court, and in every part of government—-that those people have everyone’s best interests at heart.

But many of us don’t. We figure: it’s all corruption, incompetence. And we’ve given up on trusting the government, and most anyone in it.

This is my last idea. The idea of asking you to consider trusting some random dude. I want you to actually have confidence that I’ll tell you the truth and represent your needs.

I want you to trust me. If that’s even possible, it will take time. I’ll be here.

Thank you.

I am Not Special

I am huge fan of Wikipedia. And here’s one page I like on the site, which is actually an index page: List of United States Political Families.

Obviously, my point is that there isn’t a Slaughter there. I’m not part of a political family. [1] I am not special. Which, soberingly enough, is mostly what you and I have in common. We are not special. We are regular people, who are non-wealthy. And while I am different in that I am running for Congress, that was a decision—not a forgone conclusion.

And isn’t that how it was supposed to be? It’s one thing for Archie Manning to be the father to Eli and Peyton [2]. But didn’t our founders get tired of kings and queens running the show?

In any case, the important note remains: I am not special. Which is another reason to consider trusting me. I am, to be brutally clear, not like the others.

I’m more like you.

[1] There have been two members of Congress with my surname (Louise Slaughter of New York, and Robert C. Slaughter of Missouri.) The acting chair of the Federal Trade Commission is Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. I do not believe I am related to any of them.


Not on Broadcast

There are about six people reading these dispatches at the moment I am writing this one. That’s because as of this moment, I have only shown them to a small group of those individuals closest to me.

One of them asked, “Why aren’t you posting these on Facebook?”

I do think it’s true that if I went to social media with each small update, more people would be here. Certainly, more people would know that I am running. But if that’s the goal, then I should also go to Twitter. And send out texts to acquaintances. And drop postcards in the mail. And buy ads.

If I were launching a product or starting a business or engaging in a major social event, I would do those things. But this—running for Congress—doesn’t feel like something that I should be widely promoting…at least not yet.

Instead, what I am hoping is that I’m onto something: the idea of an honest politician. That maybe the half dozen or so people who read this post will talk to their closest contacts. Their sister, their spouse, or best friend. In private, I think, is often best to start. But if anybody should be broadcasting on Facebook about me and my campaign right now, I think it should be the people who know me best. If they trust me, and their closest loves trust them, and so on and so on—we all really are onto something.

If you’re reading this, please talk about me behind my back. Or talk to me directly. Ask me questions. Help me understand how I can inspire you to trust me.

Because if there is trust, there can be hope. And if there is hope today, then we can all foresee better, more peaceful tomorrows.

This is what I believe.