Client Highlight: A Conversation With Our Friend Mike Brank
We have the opportunity to meet amazing people every week. Our clients are some of the most unique, creative, compassionate people on the planet and they easily make our days a little bit brighter.
This week we are highlighting one of those unique clients. His name is Mike Brank. His name may sound familiar. You’ve possibly seen it on signs in people’s yards or heard it in recent political conversations. That’s because Mike is running for South Carolina State House District 63. And mid-term elections are TOMORROW! In this client interview, we got a chance to ask Mike some questions about the upcoming election and we thought we’d start off with a juicy question.
If you were a doughnut, what kind would you be and why?
That’s a hard one because it makes me think of my favorite but, my favorite is different from what specific kind I would be. I’ll just combine the two: a Crueler. It’s all the things of a classic doughnut but with a little interesting spin on things!
What’s something about you that people might be surprised to know.
My last name is actually Powel. My dad, when he was really young his mother remarried from Powel to Brank. I’ve always been interested in where I come from. So it’s always just kind of been a cool thing to keep in the back of my mind. And then there’s the whole being raised in Kansas thing….
At this point Mike just laughed. His closest friends are well attuned to his stories of growing up in Kansas, but our readers are not! So we asked him to give us a little summary of where he came from. Mike's eyes lit up!
Okay! So yeah, let me get a little excited.
Big sky, it’s like all the great things about being near the ocean, it’s big, it’s open, it’s awe-inspiring; except it’s prairie, it’s rolling hills, it’s big sky and at the right time of time everything is kind of golden and I don’t know, it’s awe-inspiring. And it’s beautiful in a way that it’s not the same as the mountains or the beach, a lot less trees. There a lot more dirt. Like real dirt. Black dirt. I mean rich soil! I don’t know I geek out over Kansas. I left in 99 and got to go back recently on a road trip with a friend to see a band. It was a poignant homecoming after 10 years. It was just nice.
What band did you guys go see?
Newfound Glory. I loved them in high school and enjoyed them throughout college and lately I’ve become an even bigger fan. And honestly, they’re kind of old now which makes it even better to me because old people doing punk stuff is kind of awesome to me!
From here, we talked more about music. Mike plays in a band in Florence and we thought readers might be interested to hear a little more about that.
I currently play with a cover band called Senior Year and that’s cool because all the songs i dreamed of singing on a stage with I was 16, I am now singing. On a stage. With my friends. And that’s pretty cool. Kind of reliving our glory days. I like loud and big so playing with bands is so great for creativity. But I still love singing alone and writing my own songs as well.
Knowing his love of writing and reading we were curious and asked, If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why?
He’s funny, in shape, and his spider sense seems to give him an edge in most situations, and I could really use that in daily life. I think it would help me spill less coffee.
We then turned the conversation, more specifically, to Mike’s political campaign. What position are you running for and why?
Over the past couple years I’ve noticed the direction of politics taking an increasingly negative, divisive and self serving direction. It had become less about competing ideas and more about who could drum up the best rhetoric for their side and stay in power.
Statesmanship had been abandoned and it became less and less about the government working for the people and more a political game. When I discovered that the seat hadn’t been challenged in a long time, like 3 terms, I felt the best place to start was here at home. There are things in SC that need to change so people can have better lives and it’s just not getting done with the status quo.
What would be your advice to someone who’s not sure where to start? Or for people who might feel overwhelmed with news coverage?
I think if you’re a human being, the world can seem overwhelming sometimes, so if you see something that’s bothering you:
Start asking questions. Start small. You don’t have to be a political wizard. Everyone thinks they know what’s right. Everyone has the perfect economic theory. The truth is, most people don’t. And it’s hard when you look at the world and realize you don’t have the perfect answer for most things. Don’t be discouraged because you’re not alone.
Find people who are also interested in being involved in a political way and have conversations about it. On a real practical level, cutting through the philosophy of it:
Find out if you’re registered to vote. Take an inventory of the things you believe in and care about looks at the people who are holding office in your state at the top levels like senators and governors and see if they align with that. You’re their boss. If they act in bad faith you have an opportunity to vote them out.
If it’s someone you disagree with, find out if those disagreements are deal breakers and decide if those are issues you’re willing to come to terms with. It’s not necessarily about finding a comfortable middle, it’s about finding the best answers for where we’re at in history, and sometimes that’s from the left and sometimes that’s from the right. Find the people you know are going to act in the best interest of their constituents.
What's a political issue you stand for that you can share with us a little more in depth?
My main focus this time, is on education. I think the quality of future for our state depends on a well funded public education system. Far and away more kids attend public schools and those schools just don’t have the resources necessary to meet the needs of the students.
I want to make sure we fully fund our education system (we miss that mark every year), pay teachers higher salaries, and work with administrators, educators, and lawmakers to create policy that enhances the classroom experience for kids.
Mike, what gives you hope?
I was listening to an "Ask Science Mike Podcast" recently and he said, “Now is the perfect time to not give up hope.” Every single election matters. Staying involved is the key to keeping things going. What gives me hope is that things can change. Looking at the arc of history, things already have changed and that gives me hope. I am also increasingly becoming more and more aware that I am a finite being. I will only be alive for so long, but if I’m less concerned about my personal accolades, I can be one of the people who makes it go in the right direction, towards justice and equanimity for everyone.
We asked Mike to give us some final thoughts on the mid-term elections tomorrow and with grace he simply stated:
It's your world, go make it.
It’s an honor, every time Mike Brank takes a seat at The Mailroom and we are grateful to call him our friend. No matter which side you’re voting for on Tuesday, please vote. Like Mike said, it matters. Even within the Mailroom we have some opposing political views, regardless of where you stand we encourage you to exercise your unique privilege and get out there on November 6th and vote.
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