Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Yeah, I'm Dirty...

As I wandered the blogosphere tonight, I found myself wondering how many "amateur hour" pundits like myself actually have any direct political involvement at the elected level? I'm a former two term councilperson in my town (elected position), and chaired the local planning board (appointed) for several years before my council terms. In the mid-90's, I was even approached by the county party committee to run for a county supervisor position, but I declined their invitation for a variety of reasons.

Which leads me to the point of this post -- regardless of party affiliation, it takes a certain kind of person to pursue politics as a full time profession. You think it looks dirty as an outsider?? From one who has been inside, it's 10 times - nay - 100 times worse.

And that's at a local / county level, within your own party.

Besides the constant dirty politics, there's the personal grind. I've come to the conclusion that any politician can't have a home life of any sort (even locally, I was generally out 3 to 4 nights a week), has to have a very large ego (mine used to be larger than it is now), and has to have skin as thick as aged leather. You take crap constantly from all sides, you take crap from the public, you get NO credit for actually doing something positive (a rare occurrence, anyway), and you get personally attacked continuously. So why would anyone want a job like that?

Power, baby. Pure, unbridled power.

Even simple stuff, like the trashmen actually putting your trashcans on the sidewalk because they know you're a councilman, is powerful. Seems stupid, but it's not. "Power" is every bit as addictive as crack cocaine - trust me, I know. I power jonesed for two years after leaving office. It's a difficult concept to understand for someone who hasn't been there. Seeing your name on the winning side of the ledger on election night is (mostly) better than any orgasm you'll ever experience. I don't care if you're running for local dog catcher, and you win 37 - 32. Anyone holding the misconception that any politician is in the game simply in the interest of the common weal only gets it half right. Many politicians take the initial plunge for just that reason, but the politico who makes the pursuit of votes their life's work is in it for the power.

We've just really entered the quadrennial 'silly season'; the time from primaries through to election day. As you review local, state, and federal-level candidates this year, think about the choices you have available. When the available choices are tweedle-dum and tweedle-dummer, ask yourself, "Why?" The answer is right in front of you. Unless you are willing to get personally involved (regardless of your party), make the required sacrifices, and make yourself available to break the 'cycle of morons', nothing much is going to change in your schools, your town, your county, your state, your country, or the world.