CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Politics is about looking ahead. It is with this mindset that I, a 25-year-old voter, turn my attention to two races: who will be West Virginia's governor in four years, and our congressperson in the next two, to fill Shelley Capito's seat. We need a young, educated, independent and kind candidate.
Pundits say you should have name recognition or cash to win. Much of history confirms this. They also say you should have political experience before running for such powerful positions. But, if the past and present are any proof, years of experience does not make you inherently more wise, or more in touch with people.
We need a young person in Congress. The minimum age allowed is 25. While statistically old as a state, our young generation has the energy, fervor, charisma, and new-age ideas to pull West Virginia into a renaissance period of enlightenment (the new MTV reality show Buck Wild aside.)
Jobs and marketing opportunities are crucial for Promise Scholar graduates and others to stay, not move away from Mountain Mama. North Carolina's Research Triangle and Virginia's nearby Roanoke economy are examples of how our state can, and should, offer a variety of job possibilities. Any economy that is based on a single resource will flounder when that resource is gone. Diversification is necessary.
Critical thinkers are also wanted. Now and forever, our state should put her back into striving to make our education system vibrant, our teachers well-trained and respected. Katherine Boo, in her 2012 National Book Award-winning work of narrative non-fiction, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers," writes that in the part of India where she is reporting, upward mobility is made either by corruption, streaks of innovation or education. We should invest in the latter two.
We need independence for obvious reasons, the largest of which is that all great leaders consult others, but ultimately make their own decisions. A good example is Abraham Lincoln in the superb new Spielberg movie, "Lincoln." The film shows how Lincoln fought for the 13th amendment to abolish slavery and end the Civil War, despite popular opposition.
Last, and most crucially: kindness. If a people are kind, when they act independently and think for themselves, they will not be motivated by money or power, but in the idea of service. An intelligent and kind candidate will see that we have taken one of the most profoundly brilliant governmental structures in the world and turned it into a place where a hard-worker may become a tightrope walker with no net beneath them if they fall. A kind candidate will "fight like hell" as Mother Jones famously said, when something is wrong.
Kaufman, of Charleston, is a former West Virginia Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and now teaches in the West Bank, Palestine.