Since this runoff began last week, I have spent a great deal of time meeting constituents one-on-one throughout the district, and there's been time for reflection between campaign stops. I'd like to take a moment to share my thoughts and give you an idea of what is on my mind as I work to unseat Cynthia McKinney.

Politics is often maligned as inherently coercive and manipulative. When practiced in a vibrant and open democratic society, though, and when representatives act and speak responsibly and thoughtfully, politics can be beautiful.

Democracy is surely too often exploited by those who would seek office to serve selfish interests or to win a bully pulpit. The character and integrity of our society are dependent upon the character and integrity of those who serve and represent it. In our country -- and in my district -- responsible leadership is at a premium, and it is responsible leadership that allows democracy to function healthily and serve the people's interests.

Take Georgia's 4th Congressional District, where I am currently engaged in a runoff for the Democratic nomination against incumbent Rep. Cynthia McKinney.

Holding almost 630,000 people, the Georgia 4th is one of the nation's most diverse districts and the setting for a wide variety of interests and political inclinations. The northern side of the district is predominately white and affluent, mixed with a growing and upwardly mobile immigrant community of new Americans from Asia and Latin America; the middle of the district is home to the country's second most prosperous African-American community; and the south is half-black, half-white, straddling the gap between rural country and suburban sprawl.

This district, so unusually constituted, is asked every two years to elect with one voice a single representative to stand up for its many (and sometimes conflicting) interests in Congress. And this is where politics becomes beautiful. Over the course of human history, how many places with hundreds of thousands of people of all different ages, colors, and persuasions have agreed to engage in a civil discussion of the issues, to compromise, and to defer to the will of the majority (while respecting the rights of the minority) in the selection of public policy and leadership?

Georgia's 4th Congressional District, like so many across this country, is committed to peaceful coexistence, to fairness in representation, to compromise for the maintenance of civil society. It is a beautiful democratic culture. And for all of politics' many vices – for all of its half-truths and injustices -- it remains the common thread that allows us to work out our differences peacefully, across communities, peoples, and borders. That's a beautiful thing, and I'm thrilled to be so intimately connected to it while running for office. Stay tuned for more impressions and stories from the campaign trail as I fight to unseat Cynthia McKinney in the Georgia 4th!