Cannabis industry and regulatory consultant Todd Mitchem just announced that he will be ending his bid for Representative Jared Polis's soon-to-be vacated 2nd Congressional District seat. Mitchem, who'd announced his candidacy in August, had planned to run as a Libertarian. Here's Mitchem's statement on why he decided to drop out of the race.
When I entered the race for Congress in August here in Colorado in District 2, I was hopeful that the country, and especially Colorado, was ready for a positive, forward-thinking third-party candidate who could go to Washington and indeed change the game with a new insight. I believed it was time to move us to a new evolved level of change that we could all benefit from. My vision was that I, an experienced leader, government affairs strategist, and business expert, could leverage my experiences to make our government better while inspiring people to stop living in a victim mentality. The vision was to speak about the issues, help voters learn to take ownership over their own lives, all while governing in a new, positive way. It is clear to me, however, after only a few months, that I was wrong in my thinking. America is in fact not ready for this message. America is not prepared for thoughtful, kindhearted, positive-focused, results-oriented politics. Instead it is apparent that our eroding culture feeds on anger and hostility, all while ignoring the very basics of what makes us already great: humanity itself.
As we launched our campaign and started to advertise on social media, as well as conduct face-to-face meetings with people in Congressional District 2, it became evident that it was conflict people craved, not collaboration. Day after day, night after night, people wanted to have arguments with me, scream, call me names, and insult me, my wife, and my campaign. Strangers attacked me in public as well as private with comments that were painful. The hate spewed our direction by people who did not even take the time to read our website, or talk to us, has been remarkable. Over and over we would put out a positive message of personal ownership, smaller government, and a collaboration mindset. Still, people attacked over and over again in a relentless pursuit of taking us down even after we gave everyone who engaged the utmost respect.
Meanwhile, the divisiveness in our media, combined with the most destructive national political climate in recent history, has grown evil to the point of what I fear is building toward complete cultural disaster. We are seeing the political sphere, as well as media, use scandals to destroy lives of politicians, their voters, and the American public in general. People have become pawns of leverage and destruction to gain clicks, votes and power. It's gross. It's destructive. It's not what I signed up for when taking on this challenge.
But the final straw came while I was recently traveling with my wife out of the country to give a keynote presentation about my book, You Disrupted. During our trip to a small island, I discovered that we Americans are blind to the level of cultural destruction we have caused thus turning our beloved nation into a reputational pariah around the world. On one heartbreaking occasion, I was talking to an amazing, kind, and thoughtful man from the southern part of Africa who worked on the island where our conference was being held. I asked if he had been to the United States and he said no. I then said, “You should visit sometime and see our amazing country.” To which his reply was, “Oh no. I have seen your news. To me, America does not seem like a very safe or welcoming place for anyone living outside of it, especially people of color like me.” That hit me hard. To think that people are not visiting our country because the media, our leadership, and our culture seem so destructive is a complete tragedy. What have we become? Who have we become?
I got into politics to give this country a considerable dose of positivity, disruption without destruction, and to uplift our nation with a new way to govern. But after the harsh treatment by many as well as observing the trial by media that many of my fellow politicians have endured, it has become clear to me that much of America is just not ready for leaders like me who focus on kindness, respect, culture, forgiveness, and positive disruption. Sadly, effective today, I am withdrawing my participation as a candidate in Congressional District 2 here in Colorado. My family's and my well-being is far more important than fighting a losing battle against a duopoly of two-party hate including people who only seek to destroy the fabric of our society to feed their egoic pursuits. Thus today, we have sent all remaining campaign funds not already spent on advertising and supplies back to all donors with our regrets.
I will leave you all with this: I am continuing my path of rebooting our American culture. To accomplish this vision, my wife, Diana, and I will be working with companies, individuals, and supporters to drive messages of positivity. We will also be continuing the excellent work of our government affairs initiatives here in Colorado. Our time will be focused on our clients, uplifting learning workshops, leadership development, as well as books and keynote presentations for those organizations who care about helping their people become disruptors for positive change.
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There is much work to be done, and I will only be surrounding myself with the most thoughtful, positive disruption-minded people I can find. For those of you who are ready to move into this new culture, my wife, Diana, and I are here for you. For those of you who are prepared to stop the hate and get focused on moving a new positive future forward, we are here for you. For those of you who also want to move away from the deep divides in our nation, we are here for you.
My final bit of advice for us all is to stop. Stop watching and listening to the ego-driven hate-filled ranting of politicians, the media, and celebrities. Stop trying to rewrite the past. Stop hardening your heart to forgiveness, since not one of us humans is without flaw. Stop being a victim of this divisiveness and start to reflect on your own life, your thriving. Work to build community away from your technology. Delete negative people from your life. Find a new path. Look deeply at why you, instead of disrupting your own life, choose to attack people like me, who are only working to help us all thrive.
Lastly, remember this: There is no algorithm, no social-media outlet, no technology, or no program that can replace the power of human connectivity, respect, and kindness. These concepts are how the nation was built. These concepts move mountains. Those of you who are ready to get off the treadmill of hate, reactive living, arguing disguised as debate, or the countless other ways we are tricked into a division, let’s take a new, more promising journey together.
Todd Mitchem is an author, senior government affairs and community-relations liaison. Find out more at ToddMitchem.com.