Inspiring Future Candidates to Run.
“What is it to be revolutionary?” Arik Bjorn asks a crowd during a Ted x Talk. Honored to be invited, he discussed his experiences in being a “common man,” rising up, to run against political power-house Joe Wilson. Arik is a single father, an activist, a poet, author, and librarian. He used to take his 8-year old daughter to the State House and discuss history, and politics with her. At the end of every discussion, he would say to her: “there’s a better way.” One day, she replied to him, “Well Papa, why don’t you show people a better way?” Disturbed by the lack of qualified Democratic candidates in Congressional District 2 of South Carolina, he threw his name into the hat. Arik’s viewpoint is that being revolutionary is more than simply “guns and cannons.”
Arik lost against Joe Wilson, but he stood up when others did not, or rather when others who met the party’s platform could have. Phil Black, the Democratic candidate at the time ran on a pro-life platform and wanted bibles back in schools. Black previously had lost against Joe Wilson 3 times running as a Republican and seemed poised to challenge Wilson again this time as a Democrat. The Democratic party, however, had other views, and endorsed Arik citing, “We need people on the ballot that are democrats.”
The Bjorn campaign ran a platform strong on women’s and LGBTQ rights, fair wages for workers, and infrastructure, a major concern for a community that recently at the time survived a “1000 year” flood. Bjorn also ran as a “fusion” candidate, allowing his name to represent two different parties at one time. He was told by Democratic Party leaders, that Joe Wilson would not debate him “one time.” Arik states “they were right, he debated me two times.”
Joe Wilson remains in office until his latest challengers face him. No one, including Arik, has lost hope though. Arik states that he ran with the intention of inspiring others to run. He encourages future candidates to have two important items for their campaigns: a treasurer, and someone good with communication, preferably the candidate themselves. Arik stresses that although managing money is important, being able to speak for yourself, and to reach various audiences is vital. Social media, specifically the “tone” needs to be authentic, and not a “copy” of the candidate, a suggestion to those who rely solely on interns and communications directors to speak on their behalf.
Until the next election, Arik focuses on being a father, an activist, and author. He still communicates with prospective congressional candidates and is happy to discuss his experiences with anyone considering a campaign of their own.
You can watch one of Arik’s debates with Joe Wilson on YouTube.
Arik’s daughter has an interest in making videos and hopes to run a YouTube page soon with her father’s guidance. Arik recently released his latest book “Pocket Lint,” which is available for purchase via Amazon.
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