Running no more

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

Today is my 35th birthday. With this monumental occasion comes an important announcement. Despite now being constitutionally eligible to run for President of the United States, I am suspending my campaign to do so which began 1992 in Mr. Softich’s sixth grade class at the Cherry School.

When they brought in the button making press for a class fundraiser, there were plenty of predictable results. Skulls. Butterflies. New Kids on the Block. But for my turn to design an image to pin upon my ill-fitting pre-teen Adidas shirt, I was all business: “Vote for Me in 2016.”

This got one of the year’s biggest laughs from Mr. Softich, a man predisposed toward dry wit and a steady gaze toward the clock on the wall. I was serious, though. The set of encyclopedias my parents bought from a traveling salesman clearly stated the constitutional requirements to serve in all federal offices. When my dad refused to run for the U.S. Senate (even though he was 34!) I had to take matters into my own hands.

After a brief, wildly successful turn in the state legislature in my teens and 20s, I would either succeed Jim Oberstar in Congress at age 25, or maybe run for Governor, assuming Rudy Perpich wasn’t running that year. Midway through my second term, a leap into a Senate race before a hungry American public demanded more of what I had to offer. (Ideas!)

The presidential announcement would occur in the Twin Cities, perhaps even further south than Golden Valley where my aunt and uncle lived, somewhere under the tall buildings I’d only seen from a distance. My running mate would be a bland, glazed-over eunuch in a suit, someone conceived in my mind to offset my primary flaw, which was excessive awesomeness.

In sixth grade, I encased this fantasy in my mind with a sort of mental concrete. It’s still there today, like the old bridgeworks on the highway out toward the Kerr and Leetonia locations. But like those old spires resting tired against the berm, my dream began to fade the moment it hit sunlight.

In high school, I volunteered for the campaigns of local state lawmakers, hoping to learn a few things. I did. Most politicians are suited-up versions of the human condition, as emotional, self-absorbed and prone to cussing as the general population.

By senior year, writing was the only thing that kept me sane, and my elevated sense of self-worth was topped only by wanting to know everything going on around me. Many journalism careers start this way; mine was no different. I still held the dream. Journalists can run for office after they win Pulitzer Prizes, after all. But my timeline was all messed up.

As a working writer and editor the politicians began to wear on me — some of them all the time, all of them some of the time. The whole business changed — both journalism and politics. Blogs. Social media. The press became like political parties and the parties became more like hybrids between PR companies and law firms that advertise above urinals.

The last few years gave me children, humility, perspective. It’s not that my plans were disrupted, rather I was becoming the person I was supposed to be, so that I may do what I’m meant to do. Each day provides me a new opportunity far more important than the future. This perspective has provided something that seeking baldfaced power and prestige never would have: purpose, and something that feels a lot like happiness.

So, I hereby release my delegates and thank my supporters for their tireless service to my campaign. We sure had some ups and downs, but it’s time to start a new chapter. I will dedicate the next year to spending time with my family and building my career as a person who says and writes silly things for money, and teaching people how to do the same. I might reconsider when these skills become qualifications for the presidency.

It’s only a matter of time.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This post first appeared in the Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.


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