Since being active in the Peace Corps community, there are a few truths I hear about our community “Put two Volunteers in a room and you will come out with 10 different opinions” or on the Peace Corps Community as a whole instead of “it’s like herding cats” it’s more like “herding worms” !
These expressions were always in the back of my mind when brainstorming the idea of PC to Politics. As different and diverse as we are as a community we also have so much in common. We all believe in the Peace Corps ideals of 1) bringing people together 2) building consensus 3) following the direction of a community’s needs and 4) solving problems to benefit all, not just some.
Since forming PC to Politics, on occasion, I get asked why not have a PC to Politics for Republicans or for Democrats or Progressives or conservatives. Others feel we should be advocating for specific issues and only supporting RPCVs who believe in those issues. I soon saw this would just lead to chaos!
The idea of separating out the different RPCVs groups was tempting especially since I personally chose a side at age 8 ( I was( and still am) appalled that President Reagan was allowing for the existence of homelessness just blocks from the White House). But this gets messy. Serving in the Peace Corps I was acutely aware of our differences politically but our passion for service comes from the same place, our hearts. Also, each community is different, as a volunteer, we soon learn that our way is not the only way.
Making PC to Politics non-partisan was only reinforced by my fellow RPCV friends and the PC to Politics Team. I honestly was afraid that I was going to find the fictional “tea party” RPCV who in my mind has no compassion for others and is in politics for themselves or people like them. Soon I was proven wrong and to this day I have not encountered any such RPCVs no matter how conservative they may be! Of course, I find myself gravitating towards RPCVs Political Candidates I agreed with 99% of the time but I was pleasantly surprised when I began meeting the Republican or Conservative RPCVs. These individuals gave me hope that we can fix this partisan and negative political climate. My admiration for them was not dependent on whether I agreed with them, it was the idea that I can sit across the aisle from them and have a robust conversation about what was best for our country. As RPCVs we are also humble enough to know we do not know all the answers.
In the Peace Corps community, we cannot expect that we will all agree with each other all the time but we can expect that we lead our communities because we sincerely want to make a difference and improve the lives of others.
PC to Politics is nonpartisan and will happily support RPCVs Political leaders of all parties. However, there is a line we do not cross. We cannot support a mentality that divides our country whether it’s discrimination or isolation of one group of Americans. Since the 2016 elections, the rhetoric has become appalling making it ever so urgent for more RPCVs to run for Office.
Finally, as I write this blog entry on the eve of the National Peace Corps Association’s Annual Peace Corps Connect Conference in Denver, Colorado; we have 3 confirmed US House of Representatives Candidates, 1 unconfirmed, 1 US Senate candidate and 1 Governor candidate. We have many many more State delegates and county and local level candidates and leaders. If you are thinking of running, I encourage you to take the plunge!
Kristina J. Owens is the co-founder of PC to Politics. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer of Bolivia 2000-2002.