We finished up our tour of the 10th Congressional District on October 30 with a little celebration at Harmon Field in Tryon. The Garrison Chapel Men's Choir sent a group to sing this song. Thank you, James Bryan and friends!
What I learned from my Tour of the Tenth
I knew lots of these things already, but it was nice to know they're still true:
1 - There's no doubt. Any lingering doubts I might have had about running for Congress are gone. I'm doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.
2 - I have great friends. I was blown away by the number of volunteers and by their work, time and enthusiasm. Every day of the tour I was accompanied by three or four volunteers who supported me in the RV -- which was itself loaned to us by a supporter. And there were more volunteers holding the fort back at the campaign office.
3 - The Tenth Congressional District is big. Six-and-a-half counties, several good-sized cities, tons of tiny communities and endless country roads.
4 - The district is mostly rural. If you don't love country roads and country folks, you're in the wrong place.
5 - The district is scenic. Over every hill, around every bend in the road there is new beauty. How lucky we are to live in such a beautiful corner of the world!
6 - Our people are diverse. We encompass multiple races, ages, backgrounds, religions, economic levels, political persuasions and more. There's no such thing as a "typical" Tenth District citizen.
7 - People are nice. Almost without exception, everyone I talked with was friendly and welcoming. I would walk up to someone and introduce myself, not knowing how they would respond. But just about everyone was happy to talk with us, curious about what we were doing, and eager to share their views.
8 - Congress has no credibility. Many of the folks we talked with -- too many -- have checked out of politics completely. They see a Congress that doesn't represent them and is more interested in bickering than getting things done.
9 - Politics may be polarized, but people don't want to be. Folks have a variety of experiences and opinions, but they find ways to work together to get things done. That's what they tell me they want from their politicians, and they don't understand why the politicians can't do it.
10 - People want to be heard. We are fed up with politicians who talk but don't listen. Every time I'd ask a question -- and then listen -- I was rewarded with insights, ideas and nuggets of wisdom.
11 - Folks are hungry for leaders with a new attitude. We've reached a point where too many of our leaders are more interested in keeping their jobs than in doing their jobs. That is absolutely unacceptable to voters -- and they want to turn that equation around.
12 - Poverty is real. We may not see it, but poverty is all around us. We helped distribute food to 57 needy individuals at a church in Shelby; talked with a group of homeless people (including a couple with an infant child) in Asheville's Pritchard Park; and learned that 1 in 4 Polk County children faces food insecurity. I don't believe many -- if any -- of these folks are taking advantage of the "system" or are poor by choice.
13 - Our message resonates. Folks instinctively grasp that if our children are to thrive, we must make some smart investments now: highways, bridges, clean energy, education, Social Security, Medicare, and veterans' benefits among others. In short, people are ready for a new attitude of problem-solving by elected officials who have integrity and goodwill -- elected officials more interested in doing the job than keeping the job.
14 - The challenge is to get the message out. There are 487,000 voters in the Tenth Congressional District. I plan to get to know as many of them as I can -- and to give them a chance to know me. If we deliver our message effectively, we absolutely can win.
15 - Every single day of this tour, I was touched and moved by the people, the beauty, the potential and the needs of our district. I am more determined than ever to do the hard work and go the distance to be a congressman who's focused on doing the job rather than just keeping the job.