Independent’s Day: An Introduction

by ARLnow.com January 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm 33 Comments

Editor’s Note: This weekly column is written by Jason Howell, former independent candidate for U.S. Congress. This is the second of three weekly opinion columns that ARLnow.com will be publishing in 2013. The columns, from local thought leaders across the political spectrum, are intended to introduce fresh ideas and spark community conversations about issues of local and state interest.

Independent Congressional candidate Jason HowellLong before there were political parties, there were independent minded individuals. Along the way, despite the warnings of the first elected Independent, President George Washington, party factions took over our political system. Today, they are strangling it. In Virginia, we don’t register to vote by party in part, I imagine, because we are citizens before we become partisans. That is the spirit of this column.

Beginning today, thanks to your thoughtful editor, ARLnow.com will host a regular column that pays tribute to the independent minded viewpoint founded in all of us.  This column is called “Independent’s Day” and will celebrate one day a week when we can tackle local issues without partisanship. Unlike the 4th of July, which celebrates our independence as a country, on these published days we will celebrate our independence as citizens. Each is our day, hence the intentionally possessive title of the column.

Every column belongs to the reader rather than the writer. Like my 2012 campaign, all of my “wins” were yours. When I was asked to write this column I mentally added one win to that list. Serving Arlington and the entire 8th Congressional District of Virginia as a candidate was difficult but not hard. I enjoyed meeting so many of you as I knocked on doors, manned booths at festivals and stood at the Metro Stations.

Last Thursday, the 112th Congress left the stage and the 113th Congress was sworn in at noon. I looked really hard at the crowd on C-SPAN but my wife and I were not in it. Despite this rather cruel fact, I have committed to serve you in unelected ways and this column is one of those. I have also committed to stay as close to the issues as I was during the campaign. Because we are a Republic, “we the people” are responsible for the outcome of our country. I believed that during our campaign and that gave me the courage to run as an Independent for United States Congress. I believe that now, as a lay citizen of the country and Arlington resident.

ARLnow.com readers are some of the sharpest thinkers in the county. I can surmise this by your razor sharp sense of humor and your follow up research in many of your article comments. You will be happy to know that many of your neighbors are also as sharp, thoughtful and interested in keeping our neighborhoods some of the best places to live in the world. I have been asked to focus this column on local and state issues rather than the federal issues that consumed most of my campaign. Thankfully, there are many of these issues and I am excited to share an independent-minded perspective.

It is harder to be non-partisan. Not just in a campaign but when filtering the news sources and statistics that are often created by “special” interests. I will do my best to remain apolitical when analyzing the issues discussed in this column.  I know you will do your part in keeping me honest.

Thank you for reading this far, caring about Arlington, Virginia and the country. Your citizenship will help us get past the partisanship. With your continued attention, we will always be better tomorrow than we were yesterday.

  • MB

    “ARLnow.com readers are some of the sharpest thinkers in the county.”

    That’s quite possible. But then:

    “I can surmise this by your razor sharp sense of humor and your follow up research in many of your article comments.”

    Oy. Not a great start.

    That said, I’ll be following this. I never could figure out what the point of your campaign was (besides not being Jim Moran or Patrick Murray), but maybe you’ll feel a little freer now with actual opinion instead of noncommittal fluff.


    • Ballston Resident


      Think you are right on the mark. Meet Jason Howell twice when he was campaigning outside the Giant on Washington Blvd. Seemed like a very nice guy without much of an agenda.

      Hope Mr. Howell runs again but this time has a specific agenda to offer. My hat is off to him for the effort he put into his political race, not many people would have done this. But agree with MB that he needs more than noncommittal fluff. Wanted to vote for him, but just could not because there was nothing concrete in his campaign. Hope he runs again next time and gets a better campaign staff behind him with some solid financial backing.

  • CrystalMikey

    Look forward to reading more from you, Mr. Howell.

    • Anne


  • Dum Dum Guy at the Gates of Dawn

    Are you still wearing your name tag?

  • sh

    Maybe, but you should consider the 310 rather than 57. And, thanks for the heads-up.

  • Don

    I look forward reading you column.

  • b

    this weekly column(s) feature is going to get pretty annoying.

    no offense to Mr. Howell, he seems like a nice guy and i would love to see more third party candidates… but is ArlNow is really going out and recruiting third tier candidates that received less than 3% of the vote?

    more content is not always better. i know you all just finished up a redesign and are adding staff, but should think of different ways to display this fluff stuff other than in the main news section.

    • sh

      Why can’t ArlNow revert underneath the rainbow?

    • Josh S

      Not a life long reader, are you?

    • b0rk

      Non-partisan discussion of very relevant and real topics aren’t for everyone. Those that can’t stomach a thoughtful discussion can stick to watching “Honey Boo Boo” and “The Bachelor.” It takes careful consideration and checking one’s own biases at the door to make any progress in politics, along with compromise. Adding a forum for such a discussion is a value to ARLNow, as well as our community at large. I for one, commend the effort.

      If you don’t like it, skip it. I hear there is a new season of “JWoWW and Snooki” starting soon that may be more your speed.

  • David A.

    ARLNow, please just report the news.

    541 words too many to say, “I’ll be writing a guest column…stay tuned.”

    • Josh S

      I am strongly in favor of this new feature and look forward to it.

      Way better than the beer and real estate columns, which are little more than exortations to consume. Thanks, I get plenty of those already as a resident of the United States.

  • drax

    You should change your name to Jason HowellD, because voters in Arlington only vote for whoever has a “D” next to their name. Or so some of the sharp thinkers at ArlNow tell me.

    • ACDC Hack

      But then everyone is not as gullible as you are……….

      • drax

        Sure they are! Don’t you read the comments here? Anyone who disagrees with a Republican here is just an idiot.

        • ACDC Hack

          Your modesty in this case is misplaced…….

  • Hollywood

    one day a week when we can tackle local issues without partisanship.

    Ok, let’s start today:

    Streetcar, favor or oppose?

    Year-round homeless shelter, favor or oppose?

    Remember, no partisanship! 🙂

    • KalashniKEV


      Strongly Oppose.

  • James Moron

    I agree with a handful of the earlier comments. Howell did get trounced (only) because he wasn’t a D, but because there was absolutely nothing earth shattering, unique, compelling or intriguing about his candidacy. Seems like someone desperate for a little spotlight without really articulating anything differentiated. I appreciate that he’s young and – as Joe Biden would say – articulate, but that ain’t enough.

    “Unlike the 4th of July, which celebrates our independence as a country, on these published days we will celebrate our independence as citizens. ”

    What a self-aggrandizing comment – like he is some kind of beacon of independence. He ran an underfunded campaign because he knew he wouldn’t get the D nomination. He hung out at farmers markets and orange line stops. I’m not knocking the dedication and desire to serve, but it hardly gets him a seat as a pundit on the Meet the Press roundtable.

    • AntiJames

      When did Arlnow become “Meet the Press.

      What is not the least bit strange but the ardent Democrat/Liberal poster have attempted to belittle Mr. Howell because he doesn’t speak in the group think and lock-step positions that are pushed out by the Tammany Hall/Tweed Boss politics that dominates Arlington County. For me, that goes along way.

  • Joehoya

    Here’s some razor-sharp wit… That photo just screams, “Hey, baby, how YOU doing’?”

    • drax

      True – plus he has BroTilt.

  • Wayne Kubicki

    I had the pleasure of meeting Jason several times during the 2012 campaign. Looking forward to seeing his weekly column here.

    • DCBuff


  • D Bima

    Intention Deficit Disorder.

  • KnowItAll

    Wow, tough crowd.

    I can’t wait to see the reaction tomorrow when you find out the third columnist is Pierce Homer writing about Arlington transportation issues.

    • Wayne Kubicki


  • Steve

    I’ve noticed that arlnow doesn’t have much foreign policy coverage. I would be interested in writing a bi-weekly foreign policy column focusing on the Arlingtonian implications of major current global political and economic events. Please contact me arlnow staff!

    • Wayne Kubicki

      Why limit to only global? What’s wrong with intergalatic??

      First topic could be a campaign to reinstate Pluto.

      If couched as being “inclusive”, I bet the County Board would pass a resolution in support.

  • CW

    Ok, constructive comment for ARLnow: I am fine with the pet of the week; I think it is cool. I am very interested in reading these weekly articles from the D, I, and I am assuming there is an R to round out things. I like beermonger and Ask Adam. However, some people seem to be pushing back against at least some of these for one reason or the other. Personally, I don’t have any problem with the sponsored articles; I don’t think that pet of the week cheapens the site or whatever. However, I do think that visually and in terms of quantity, all of these regular article will by definition add a lot more content volume to the site. So what I am getting at is that perhaps it is time to move from the stream of consciousness blog format into something more structured. I would keep the “hard news” that got ARLnow its following in the main frame but move some of this other stuff elsewhere. Of course, then it’s less prime real estate and the sponsors pay less for the articles. So tough decision. But I think it’s something that might be considered (and yes I realize that the site just underwent a redesign).

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Jason, I welcome your column on ArlNow. I voted for you because you were a breath of fresh air compared to the two major parties. I did not agree with all of your positions, but I liked the way you presented yourself in various interviews and on your web site. I hope you will run again. I think the country needs new and independent voices and fresh perspectives, especially in Congress, which has gotten pretty stale. I wish you well.

  • Ouisi

    Voters select a candidate who represents the views that the voter holds most dear. Before election day, I visited Mr. Howell’s website and couldn’t find a clear position on any issue. I ended up voting for several third-party candidates, but had no reason to vote for Mr. Howell and ended up voting for a major party candidate for the congressional seat.


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