That was then. Now I hope to serve southwest Missourians in Congress with the same spirit that righted those wrongs just a couple of years ago. My opponent who wishes to serve in Congress -- for whom I have a good deal of respect -- has put forth his credentials as an outsider, maverick and agent of change. I trust his intentions, but he has yet to demonstrate that he actually has the mettle to stand up to the establishment, at all costs, and win. His intentions are my experience.
My experience enables me to take a different approach. Like my opponent, I want to fix the economy, create jobs, reduce the deficit, ease the credit crunch, prevail in Afghanistan and tackle a myriad of other issues. But a larger issue we must address is our confidence crisis.
We aren't as confident about our economic engine as we once were. We aren't as confident about winning wars. We aren't as confident about our leaders. We aren't as confident about leaving a better country for our children and grandchildren, as our parents and grandparents left for us.
Our confidence crisis has been cause for a lot of finger-pointing. Republicans blame it on Obama, Democrats blame it on Bush, but it was a long time coming before either was at the helm. It's a product of narrow special interests, unbridled indulgence and too many heads stuck in the sand avoiding issues as they arose. Over the years, issues became problems, problems became obstacles, obstacles became challenges and challenges became crises.
So here we sit. And it seems as if government doesn't quite know what to do about it.
When the time came for me to take real responsibility for public policy, I wasn't rooted in either party, but steadfast on being my own man. I worked for a Republican governor with whom I agreed and disagreed. I opposed his Medicaid cuts. I supported his efforts to make roads and bridges safer. And as I mentioned before, I fought against his staff's efforts to break the public trust.
Our federal government is strapped, and what's worse, it's stumped. Partisanship, wedge issues and rough rhetoric won't get us out of this one. However, voters who look beyond labels and assess candidates on their independence, character, ability and vision can begin turning the tide. We need to shake off the shackles, take a deep breath, roll up our sleeves and make America our own again by doing what's right, not what's popular.
Let's insist that our new congressman brings not only new leadership but inspires a renewed confidence.
Scott Eckersley is the Democratic candidate for Missouri's 7th Congressional District.
Editor's note: AOL News has invited candidates for the U.S. House and Senate to make their "closing arguments" to voters before the Nov. 2 elections.