“It is said that we hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” So goes the thought of many citizens when they think of politicians. I promise you that it is a much more complex game than most people will ever understand. It needs to change from the political right and left to what’s right and what’s wrong.
Have you ever wondered what goes through a person’s mind when they decide to run for public office? It very well could be a life-altering experience and most certainly will change the way you see yourself and society forever. They say the best way to really find out who your friends are is when you lose. Who steps up with support and encouragement and who instantly changes their colors to support the winner with both money and friendship? It’s an interesting lesson on society and relationships.
We are now engaged in an election for the U.S. Congress and other city positions. Seldom do voters really spend the time to study the candidates and their stands on issues but stumble into the voting booth hoping that Uncle Max gave them the right information on who they should vote for. Most people believe that politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.
Running for public office can be brutal, and being elected can be sheer terror. Once a person finds out how many people hate them because they belong to a different party and therefore can’t be any good — and they are labeled a “politician” and therefore are instantly suspect for their motives behind seeking public office — the personal panic begins. They begin to question, “Who really wants me to run and will they support me financially or in volunteering?” Some candidates have already found out the answer to those questions but the finals are still ahead.
You’ve got to wonder why anyone steps into the public arena and agrees to run. I applaud anyone who dares enter the arena of public judgment. The judgment that takes place once you have made the choice to run will only be superseded by being elected and having the daily barrage of critics second guessing what you will do and have done.
Let’s look at what goes through the mind of a candidate. The first thing to ask yourself is, “Why am I running?” Is it the ultimate ego trip, a celebration of self-interest with exciting rallies, headlines, bright lights and adoring followers? Personally, I think that’s a lot of baloney. In reality, a campaign becomes a lonely, ego-shattering affair, devastating to family life and finances. Far more candidates lose than win.
The next question should be, “Do I have a plan of action should I be elected, and is it a better plan than others may have? Am I qualified for the position and will my employer support me in the endeavor?”
The worst part of running is fundraising, especially for a candidate in a difficult battle. Many candidates have confided that calling people to ask for money can be a humiliating, degrading thing. Some candidates get in the middle of the race, consider the state of the campaign, the neglect of family and profession and then ask, “What in the world am I doing here?”
Candidates must evaluate their own personalities to determine if they have the mental toughness to take criticism without falling apart. It’s wrenching to be criticized publicly, especially when the campaign becomes mean and personal. You have to deal with the press, the letters to the editor, e-mail campaigns, timed debates with no time to defend or fully explain your position or respond to false accusations about what others think they know about where you stand on issues.
Can you financially support this venture and do you have any major skeletons in your closet? Have you done anything that is considered unethical, such as DUI, drugs or bankruptcy, or have you engaged in questionable business practices? Are you prepared to have yourself and your family placed in a glass house for all to judge as public figures? What are the issues and how will you solve those problems? Will you raise taxes or cut government?
Most of the general schizophrenic signals you will receive from the general public will be to cut taxes and increase entitlements, and do it in a noble manner so we the people can have pride and respect in you. The public will expect government to solve all its problems and spend no money doing it. I respect anyone who has stepped into this arena of public service for the right reasons.
It is said that America isn’t great because of what government did, America is great because of what free people in America had the chance and the incentive and the opportunity and the freedom to do for them. It all starts with someone willing to serve and a public willing to get out and vote after serious study of the issues and candidates.
”Mankind will never see an end of trouble until lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power become lovers of wisdom.” — Plato
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