The antidote to politics as usual: A new kind of candidate.

These servant leaders are just a few of those across the country who are leading this movement to put character and service back into our politics.

As we head into Election Day and cap off the most expensive midterm election in U.S. history, Americans can be forgiven for feeling exhausted with “politics as usual.” Between the millions spent on negative advertising and the nonstop coverage that seems to prize the sensational over the substance, it’s understandable that a clear majority of Americans feel like our nation is on the wrong track.

But amidst the polarization and partisan mud-slinging that’s come to define our national politics, we’ve seen a new story emerge this cycle: one of a new kind of political candidate who can rise above tribal partisanship to put people over politics and service to others over elevating themselves.

They’re veterans who have dedicated their lives to putting our country first and have shown that they can be the antidote to what our politics needs.

We’ve seen the impact of these servant leaders on campaign trails across the country.

In Ohio, Navy veteran Ken Harbaugh, has inspired a cross-partisan movement in a traditionally conservative area. The biggest newspaper in the district endorsed his opponent last election, but this year got behind Ken, writing, “We’ve found no candidate who matches Harbaugh’s drive, passion and ability to connect with voters the way Harbaugh does.”

In New Jersey, former Navy helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill has brought together voters from across the political spectrum behind a campaign centered on the values of service and courage. The center of her pitch is often a leadership lesson she learned in the Navy about the importance of standing up when you see your ship running aground – an apt metaphor of our country today.

In Minnesota, Army veteran and former teacher Dan Feehan is running on the importance of coming together across party lines to get things done. He’s led by example with “Service Saturdays” throughout the campaign, and we’ve seen voters willing to put partisanship aside because of his character, humility, and down-to-earth Minnesota values.

In Kentucky, former Marine pilot Amy McGrath is finishing up a record-setting campaign in which she’s raised millions from low-dollar grassroots donors and has not run a single attack ad. She’s crystal clear about the service values that have been central to her life and the campaign she’s run, and she’s uniting folks from all backgrounds because of her dedication to putting country first.

And in North Carolina, Marine veteran Dan McCready is also running on the mantra “country over party.” He describes his military service as a calling, and when I talked to him the day after Election Day 2016, he told me he felt that same calling to serve once again. Although he’s a first-time candidate, the Charlotte Observer cited his “character, his intelligence and his life-long commitment to others,” as among their reasons for endorsing him.

These servant leaders are just a few of those across the country who are leading this movement to put character and service back into our politics. Despite the polarizing times we live in, they offer inspiring proof for the fact that politics can be better – our democracy can work – when we unite around common values and expect more of our leaders. When we remember that courage, integrity, and empathy aren’t too much to ask for.

Win or lose – and some of these candidates may fall short this time – we’re just at the beginning of this movement to elect a new generation of servant leaders, a generation of political leaders who can rebuild trust in our country so that one day, “politics as usual” can be a good thing.

Revitalizing our democracy is a long-term project – and it won’t be accomplished by just one leader or in one election cycle. But we must continue to support, to talk about, and to vote for servant leaders in years ahead. Because this year we saw first hand how, one campaign at a time, it is fully possible to get us headed back in the right direction.

Emily Cherniack is the founder and executive director of New Politics, which helps former military and American civil service veterans get elected to political office. Follow her on Twitter: @echerniack.

Creative Commons

National Tell a Joke Day dates back to 1944 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was having a meeting with Vice-President, Henry Wallace. The two men were tired and depressed due to the stress caused by leading a country through world war.

During a lull in the meeting, Wallace said, "Frank, to cheer you up I have a joke I'd like to share."

"Let's have it, Henry," Roosevelt replied while ashing his cigarette.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Wallace asked. "Not sure," Roosevelt replied.

"To get to the other side," Wallace responded.

Roosevelt laughed so hard that the bourbon he was drinking sprayed out of his nose and onto the floor of the oval office.

RELATED: A comedian shuts down a sexist heckler who, ironically, brought his daughters to the show

The joke was so funny, and did such a great job at lightening both their moods, Roosevelt proclaimed that every year, August 16 would be National Tell a Joke Day.

Just kidding.

Nobody knows why National Tell a Joke Day started, but in a world where the President of the United States is trying to buy Greenland, "Beverly Hills, 90210" is back on TV, and the economy is about to go off a cliff, we could all use a bit of levity.

To celebrate National Tell a Joke Day, the people on Twitter responded with hundreds of the corniest dad jokes ever told. Here are some of the best.


The Judean date palm was once common in ancient Judea. The tree itself was a source of shelter, its fruit was ubiquitous in food, and its likeness was even engraved on money. But the plant became extinct around 500 A.D., and the prevalent palm was no more. But the plant is getting a second chance at life in the new millennium after researchers were able to resurrect ancient seeds.

Two thousand-year-old seeds were discovered inside a pottery jar during an archaeological excavation of Masada, a historic mountain fortress in southern Israel. It is believed the seeds were produced between 155 B.C. and 64 A.D. Those seeds sat inside a researcher's drawer in Tel Aviv for years, not doing anything.

Elaine Solowey, the Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel, wondered if she could revive the Judean Date Palm, so in 2005, she began to experiment. "I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?" Solewey said.

Keep Reading Show less

There's been an uptick in fake emotional support animals (ESAs), which has led some airlines to crack down on which animals can and can't fly. Remember that emotional support peacock?

But some restrictions on ESAs don't fly with the Department of Transportation (DOT), leading them to crack down on the crack down.

Delta says that there has been an 84 percent increase in animal incidents since 2016, thanks in part to the increase of ESAs on airplanes. Last year, Delta airlines banned pit bulls and pit bull-related dog breeds after two airline staff were bitten by the breed while boarding a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo.

"We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk," Delta told People regarding the new rule.

Keep Reading Show less
via Liam Beach / Facebook

Trying to get one dog to sit still and make eye contact with a camera for more than half a second is a low-key miracle. Lining up 16 dogs, on steps, and having them all stare at the camera simultaneously is the work of a God-like dog whisperer.

This miracle worker is Liam Beach, a 19-year-old animal management graduate from Cardiff, Wales. A friend of his dared him to attempt the shot and he accepted the challenge.

"My friend Catherine challenged me to try to get all of my lot sat on the stairs for a photo. She said, 'I bet you can't pull it off,' so I thought 'challenge accepted,'" he said, accoriding to Paws Planet.

Keep Reading Show less
via Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Americans on both sides of the political aisle can agree on one thing: our infrastructure needs a huge upgrade. While politicians drag their feet on high-speed rail projects, fixing bridges, and building new airports, one amazing project is picking up steam.

The Great American Rail-Trail, a bike path that will connect Washington state to Washington, D.C., is over 50% complete.

The trail is being planned by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that is working with local governments to make the dream a reality.

Keep Reading Show less