February 25, 2014

Only a quarter of a century old with miles left to go

By Daniel Runnels–

Turning 25 is, for many, merely a shift in how we classify ourselves — maybe going from being a “in my early twenties” to being a “twenty- something.” Some make a deal about being a quarter of a century old or getting a reduced car insurance rate, but it is largely an uneventful mile- stone — nothing like turning 18 or 21 or 50 — super-duper old.

In one important respect, though, turning 25 is a big thing. At age 25 a U.S. citizen is eligible to run for the U.S. House of Representatives, and that is just what my high school friend Wesley Bolin is doing.

Bolin, a Murray State University student and library employee filed for candidacy as a Democrat to represent Kentucky’s first congressional district. He aims to defeat Republican Ed Whitfield who has represented the district for almost an infinity years.

What kind of 25-year-old does this? Congress is a pretty unpopular bunch these days, and Bolin surely has the odds stacked against him.

WKMS, the local public radio service, reports that no Democratic candidate in the district has earned more than 40 percent of the vote since 2000, and in 2012 Governor Romney beat President Obama by a wide margin. Furthermore, Rep. Whitfield has a lot more money and name recognition than Mr. Bolin. In short, he looks to be playing the underdog.

To be sure, he seems off to a good start. With his characteristic quick wit and sharp mind he joked about his age while announcing his candidacy. According to the Murray Ledger and Times, Bolin embraced his youth, saying “I’ve been talking to a lot of people in this district…and one thing I’m hearing is they want a fresh face. Well, nobody has a face that is fresher than mine.”

I wish Mr. Bolin the best and hope he gets the chance to represent his district in Washington. If I were still a resident of his district I would vote for him in support of his recognition that Social Security needs to be strengthened, the minimum wage needs to be increased, and all Kentuckians deserve to be treated equally under the law.

Win or lose, though, I’m so proud to know Mr. Bolin and to see him be an inspiration for us all to take risks.

Another thing that happens to a lot of people when they turn 25 is that they wonder if the dreams they once had are slipping out of reach. The world starts to look different as we get older, and even as a “twenty- something” it can look like the world is an impossible place to change.

Bolin reminds us that we ought to take risks because the world can be better. Of course, we won’t all end up running for congress, but our youthful zeal is a necessary part of this system called The World.

When I saw the news about Bolin’s candidacy, I almost immediately thought of some wise words uttered by Mafalda, a six-year-old cartoon character popular throughout Latin America: “Let’s dream, guys! It turns out that if you don’t hurry up and change the world, it’s the world that ends up changing you!”

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