Capital Commentary is a weekly current-affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice. Published since 1996, it is written to encourage the pursuit of justice. Commentaries do not necessarily represent an official position of the Center for Public Justice but are intended to help advance discussion.
A Different Kind of Campaign
by Ted Williams III

Article Summary:

In American politics, conventional wisdom says a few things consistently win elections. Money, negative campaigning, and ingratiating one’s self with the right kingmakers in the process typically help to move the numbers. In his recent bid for Chicago City Council, Ted Williams III set out to run a very different kind of campaign, one with a distinctive vision both for his local community and the election process, and characterized by the Christian ethic of service and humility.

Williams was warned that winning in Chicago would be tough if he chose this different approach. In this article, Williams reflects on some of the significant lessons he learned from his campaign experience and the challenges he observed facing our democracy. He came to understand more than ever that government is but one piece of what makes a community work. Like many who run for public office, he was faced with the major dilemma of how to strike the balance between tangible action items that are within the purview of government’s authority and larger institutional questions that cannot be reduced to campaign pledges.

Williams learned some other tremendous lessons along the way, among them how to approach talking about an opponent’s record without negative attacks, how to promote positions with more transformative potential than are normally discussed in local elections, and how to craft a vision that engages various institutions without overpromising. His efforts and vision are instructive to all of us as we consider the larger question of how we can engage as Christian citizens in political campaigns and the political process.