Good news everyone! Cesar Chavez is running for Congress!
Now, before you get too excited, I should probably mention a few things.
First of all, the Cesar Chavez you’re probably thinking of passed away in 1993, and so is no longer allowed to participate in the political system (except maybe in Chicago). Also, the Cesar Chavez currently running for Congress has campaigned for political office twice before as a Republican – not the expected political affiliation for someone trying to associate with the United Farm Workers union. And, perhaps most interestingly, this Cesar Chavez wasn’t named Cesar Chavez until November of 2013.
The candidate-formerly-known-as-Scott-Fistler changed his name, stating “I have experienced many hardships because of my name.” New name in hand, Fistler/Chavez found a new party too and is a candidate in the Democratic primary to represent Arizona’s 7th Congressional District.
This is one of the reasons I love U.S. politics. Every election season absurdity finds its way into the scene somewhere. But there’s also something about this that unsettles me, and makes me feel sad for Fistler/Chavez.
Our old friend Bill Shakespeare gives us the adage, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Put differently, God lovingly creates and sustains us unconditionally and absolutely, independent of any titles, labels, or anything else that may preoccupy us. In this case, that would mean that Fistler/Chavez’s lovability and worth as a human person is in no way affected by his legal name.
So why change it?
My gut response to this question is that Fistler/Chavez, having already lost two campaigns, is looking for a way to capitalize on the widespread popularity of Cesar Chavez in the majority Latino Congressional District in Phoenix. After all, campaigning under the name of this famous activist could prove to be a political boost. But at what point is Fistler/Chavez focusing more on superficial name-related benefits than on sharing who he actually is with potential voters?
Could this change to part of who he is be driven by thoughts of “I’m not good enough as I am,” “People won’t accept me unless I change myself,” or “I’ll do absolutely whatever it takes to accomplish this goal”?
While I can’t say that this is absolutely what is motivating Fistler/Chavez, I hope that these thoughts give way to a recognition that our worth as people isn’t tied to names or labels. God fully knows and loves us exactly as we are, no matter our titles or perceived achievements. What’s more, simply being and sharing our authentic selves with those around us is real success. Even if it means a few bumps, bruises, and campaign losses along the way.
Cover Image: “Hello my name is”, by Emily Rose/Tako Fiber, Flickr Creative Commons, available here.