Jeremy McKeen has one chance to run for the President of the United States, and he’s going for it.
Thank the Founding Fathers and Mothers for a long American campaign season. This gives the people and media enough time to fall in love with, cover and analyze, and then forget the very people who think they’re qualified enough to lead the free world.
And I’m one of them.
Well, not really. But let me explain.
The Dream Starts
In short—I’m now, at 36 years old and American-born—qualified, according to the Constitution, to run. It also happens to be a perfect year for a “young” candidate like me to run and make waves, hopefully inspiring others and achieving a life-long dream. Since I sang for President Clinton’s first Inauguration when I was an eighth grader, I had this feeling—like many people my age, and many individuals who have taken part in grandiose events like a young President Clinton meeting Kennedy—that I could be the one to change the world, to be a leader, to be, say, the president. That feeling has changed since some twenty years ago, but somewhere along the way, from teenage-hood to parenthood, I became stuck with this dream of running for president.
It’s too late for me to quickly earn my doctorate, law degree, or have a quick political rise from local elected leader to national figure, so I’m well aware of my limitations. At best I’m a gum-chewing English teacher with big ideas and a sense of humor, and yet I still want to run. (Secretly I know I could really do it, even with the long hours.)
So, realizing that I probably won’t win, at least I can run. When I’m old I can look back and say that I once ran for President. I’ll have that story.
This is about Your Dream
Of all the passions I’ve had in life, I’ve been able to come to terms that some of them just can’t happen right now, but I can’t go through life knowing that I’ve given up on some of them. I put several dreams on hold (for good reasons) while cultivating my career as a teacher and now as a writer. My life as a husband and father more than gives me the greatest sense of purpose and center. I realize that some dreams can happen later or much later, and some have to happen right now, while the irons are hot. Some things—school, babies, falling in love—happen when they happen, and just end up right. Some don’t.
But some things—a business, a home, a relationship, finishing school, or mending a broken friendship—need to be done right here, right now. Years from now the time will have passed and the waters will have run dry. And you never know the why or how, except that the time was, and you didn’t take action.
2016 happens to be that time for me. Maybe—just maybe—it’s the same time for you.
McKeen the Dream in 2016
It’s as if my campaign slogan was written in the pun-tastic stars. My last name and “dream” and “teen” rhyme (or near rhyme). And this won’t happen again, ever. Especially while I’m young.
But actually my heritage and professional life have somewhat prepared me for this kind of thinking. My ancestor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas McKean, was also one of the early Presidents of the Continental Congress, who were predecessors to the role of the now President of the U.S.A. Some historians say that they were the original presidents of the United States. Huh.
I’ve also had a small political career as a Union representative (for which I’m extremely proud) and a turn serving as a Futures Union Representative—the first one—for the M.A. AFL-CIO. I was able to share stages with presidents, senators, and governors, all because I decided to run for the position, even though I didn’t know if I was qualified. But I was willing to speak and work and show up, and I was able to make valuable connections with masters of their trades, executives, and the amazing staff personnel behind them.
But that’s where the trail runs dry. I’ve spent my professional life as a teacher, coach, and writer, and that’s the experience I bring to the table. As an only child of teachers and an educator myself, I’ve seen how all parts of Americans live and dream. And I’m living the dream myself: I’m happy and love what I do and the family I come home to each night. At the same time I realize how many other versions of life are just as normal, and how much need there is from every home and body, regardless of station or education.
There is nothing in your “fate,” however, that can achieve success for you. Being born doesn’t make you any one thing in life, and each career path and risky professional choice I’ve made has been because I’ve wanted to be able to look back and say, for a while, I did that. I was that. I had a time of it. And I was good at it.
If I was President
So here it is—my year to gear up and run. It will be part experiment, part entertainment, and a complete experience from which to draw. I aim at least to get on the ballot in my state and to say, after a bit of hard work, that I ran. Who knows what could happen?
And, more importantly, the same goes for you out there making that decision for the most important season of your life—the business may fail, the creation may not last, the relationship might go south, the band might break up—but you didn’t say no at the right time, and that’s what you can talk about when you remember the better parts of the thing that failed.
So do something big, unexpected, crazy—something you’ve been dreaming about, even if it’s foolish. You never know what positive things may come.
This is my year (or the year leading up to it). Yours too.
Let’s get started.