I am probably almost as thrilled as he is to announce that my friend Jon Ossoff is running for Congress in Georgia.
He and I started talking and writing about politics together when we were sophomores in high school, during the heady politics of George W. Bush’s first term. I can say for sure that I wouldn’t be where I am today without that collaboration, and now look at him — running for Congress!
I’m not going to sit here and brag about the guy’s accomplishments; go read his About page, and then you let me know if you think he’d make a good congressman.
Jon’s running in the district where he grew up, Georgia’s 6th. Rep. Tom Price (R) just gave up that seat to go be Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Trump only carried the district by one point, though, so Jon sees an opportunity to go snatch it back for the Democrats in the special election this spring. As exciting as that is, it’s not going to overshadow for me the mere fact that Jon Ossoff is running for Congress.
This was all meant to happen, we just didn’t know when or how. Jon and I spent a lot of time on the phone processing the 2016 presidential election together. It got pretty bleak at times. “What do we do???” was the refrain. I saw it become clear to Jon over a couple of weeks, first gradually, then suddenly: “This is the moment we’ve been preparing for,” he said on a recent morning (my time — after midnight his time), and he was not wrong. It was time for him to run for office and for me to help him do it.
I realized how real the dream was last night when I was hot-spotting in on my laptop from the back of a cab winding its way through Jerusalem, making last-minute adjustments to the campaign website on Slack with Ossoff and other childhood buddies Dustin Chambers (in Atlanta) and Daniel Schwartz (in Zürich), who did the media production for this launch. Jon’s right; we have been preparing for this. He came to his friends and said, “Hey, I’m gonna run for Congress. Can you help?”, and we just said, “Well, yeah! Sure!”
This is not political theater, this is the realest thing ever. That amazing holiday shot on the About page? I used to drive the lady on the right to school in the mornings. I used to drive the lady on the left crazy all the time hanging out at her house with her son, who is now running for Congress. This photo from the first campaign meeting in Atlanta? I’ve known most of these people since they were little children:
You see, our friends are a hopeful, progressive, rather intelligent bunch. We don’t respond kindly to gaudy, self-interested, willfully ignorant presidents who really just want to be crowned king. It is our natural tendency to want to snatch back the first national election after such a president takes office. Leave it to Jon Ossoff to actually try. I couldn’t be prouder of him already.
I’m not just proud of him, I’m grateful to him. His decision to run is unquestionably good for America; he’s rather well qualified to be a freshman congressman, and he’s the kind of Democrat who gets a deserved endorsement from John Lewis calling him “committed to progress and justice.” But I’m grateful to Jon in a more personal way, too. He’s galvanized his whole tribe. He’s given us something to do to respond constructively to the political emergency in America: We can do everything in our power to get a good, talented person elected to national office.
So yeah, I did the website. Yes, it only took me two months to start consulting again, but this is different. First of all, this was pro bono, nights-and-weekends, and for my best friend. It was also my first political job, and I have to say, it was incredibly rewarding to design for that purpose, especially in collaboration with dear friends whose values I know and share. The Ablaze.co tagline says that I work for “clients who want to repair our world,” a reference to the 20ᵗʰ-century, social justice-oriented reinterpretation of the mystical concept of tikkun olam. I never thought of the U.S. House of Representatives as deserving of the sacred sense of that term until now. The world looked dark to me a few weeks ago. Thanks to Jon Ossoff, now there’s light streaming in.