Donald Picard and his husband were the first male gay couple to be married in Massachusetts and were very active in getting their rights to do so, which has inspired Mr. Picard’s mentality towards the nation. Because of his experience, Mr. Picard says “I know the country can move forward because I have direct personal experience of it.” He further contributes this experience to being a reason he decided to enter his name on the ballot.
Mr. Picard lives in Massachusetts with his husband and granddaughter and they have two adoptive children. He has a career as a software engineer and does not have political experience, but he is campaigning to run in the upcoming New Hampshire primaries. This may make you wonder why someone would go out of their way to do the work to be put on the ballot and be brought into the public eye, but Mr. Picard has many good and inspirational reasons for doing so.
When I asked Mr. Picard, a lifelong Democrat, about what led him to his decision to run, he said that he thought “the Democratic party was making a mistake in not having a competitive primary process.” He spoke about how he believes strongly in getting voters to be more engaged and that having a presumptive nominee does not achieve that goal. While Donald does not have political or campaigning experience, which he was very candid about, his goals seem to lend more to pushing the public to be aware of their choice. He believes that by “by exercising that right [to vote] they actually become more supportive and more engaged.” Furthermore, he believes that by voters making the choice to vote they have to “stand for a moment, look at some names, and say this is the person I want to be my nominee. I want more people to make that choice than fewer.”
Mr. Picard reiterated to me that while he is legitimately running, he fully expects Biden to win over him, but that that choice is “a healthy thing for the country and for the democratic party.” He believes that by lending in the democratic process by pushing voters to make a conscious choice, he is bringing a positive impact to the democratic process however things turn out, which I believe is an admirable motivator to being involved.
In speaking about the issues he would like to support and what his goals for government would be, Mr. Picard’s perspective was very human and empathetic. He “doesn’t want the government to be someone else or something to be blamed, but instead recognized as something that we choose.” and “a reflection of who we are.” In the same light of his passions for influencing voters to become more involved individuals, he believes that people should become more engaged with each other. Mr. Picard compared his views on policy making for the nation as how he would like his family to be treated. He said that “there’s always people in your family that you fundamentally disagree with, not because they’re wrong […] but by telling them they’re wrong you’re not going to encourage anything, no ones going to come to a mutual understanding that way”. Mr. Picard believes strongly in the public having engaging conversations and thinking about the governed as members of his own family, rather than a complete stranger and being unable to put himself in their shoes.
Mr. Picard spoke very highly of his experiences thus far of being on the ballot, even saying it has been a lot of fun. He had the chance to be featured on the lesser known democratic candidates forum where a worker from NPR in the audience chose Mr. Picard and one other candidate to feature on the podcast the next morning, unbeknownst to him. He told me about how his friends and family reached out to give him support and tell him he did a good job, and that he initially thought “people were gonna go oh he’s off his rocker, but most people actually say that’s awesome! They’re excited, and it’s a very interesting thing to experience.”
Mr. Picard’s friend, Jenn kay-Goodman, who teaches 7th and 8th grade civics, reached out to him and invited him to speak to her class about his experiences. He went and enjoyed speaking to the class and was excited to hear that when the students were asked to share what they learned after the presentation, they spoke about how they didn’t know how approachable it is to run for President of the United States rather than completely unattainable. He said that that alone made him “feel like [he] knocked it out of the park.” Mr. Picard was obviously very happy to be making an impact in his community and sharing his beliefs of engagement and transparency in the democratic system.
I got the opportunity to speak to Jenn about her long standing friendship with Mr. Picard and his day in her classroom. Jenn and Mr. Picard met when their kids started going to school together in kindergarten, about 20 years. On speaking about Mr. Picards visit to her civics class, she said her students were very inspired. Mr. Picard’s position as a gay candidate with two adopted African American children and a biracial grandchild spoke to her students specifically. She said “he represents a lot of the things that they believe in, social justice and equality. He’s made it work, he’s a living example of someone that justice is working for.” Jenn told me that her students were pretty horrified about how LGBTQ+ people in many states are being treated so Mr. Picard’s position and identity is a refreshing and hopeful figure for them. Jenn also spoke to me about Mr. Picard’s experience in acting, singing, and public speaking. He is an avid actor and performer and passionate storyteller often participating with the MOTH storytelling group.