Monday, September 14, 2009

Career in Politics

I would guess that most people who read the title to this post aren't immediately filled with warm fuzzy feelings.

Politics, as a career, tends to get as much sympathy if not less than the field of law. People, perhaps innately, don't trust politicians and so by association tend to not trust the people who work for them.

A co-worker this morning made the observation that two people who are running for local office in our county have, for the most part, only had jobs "that involved a vote." He didn't say more than that, but his tone of voice implied that he didn't think much of this. I didn't say anything at the time because I could see that it wouldn't make me a lot of friends at work and, by nature, I'm very non-confrontational.

Still, it grated me that a person could be denigrated because they chose to follow a career they loved which just happened to be in politics. I have worked in that field. It can be unforgiving and very rewarding.

I would hazard that most people who tried to work for an elected official, or were an elected official themselves, would find a way to get out quickly and in as dignified manner as possible. There is no such thing as job security. Your job depends on how well you work for your boss, how well your boss works for the people, and how well you can convey that fact to the voters in your district. Of course, you have no control over things like a sinking national economy that usually adversely affects your local area, but people will still blame you for this. People will blame elected officials for a lot of things they have no control over. Even the President has to contend with this every time the price of gas goes up.

I know some people fault those who work in politics for seeming to be detached from the real world. "You don't know what it's like to have a regular job. You don't know what it's like for the 'average Joe.'" I've heard this myself and I've heard others say it about politicians. Because obviously no politician has ever had to pay taxes, buy groceries, raise a child, drive over roads in ill condition, deal with how snow storms affect businesses and commutes, or work long hours with no compensation because they are salaried.

I'd say most people don't have to worry about going to the grocery store and being stopped every other aisle to be told by someone what they think isn't going right in the area. This goes for people who work for elected officials too. Forget about going out for dinner or a drink in your district and having a "quiet night" because inevitably someone will approach you with work related stuff. And those who love their jobs often don't mind. Why? It's because you report to the people. Most people can name who their boss and supervisors are using one hand to count them off. Elected officials and the people who work for them report to everyone who lives in their district.

It's not an easy job. It's probably why we have a hard time finding people who even want to run for public office. Fortunately, in this area I think most people run for office or take political jobs because they believe they can bring positive change. They believe in the people of this area and the people in office. Sure, some elected officials have higher aspirations, but most recognize that to move to a higher office you damn well better do a good job at the very local level first. Of course, it all comes back to the constituents in that district and whether they voice their opinion by voting. Just some stuff to think about.

1 comment:

Pamela said...

you are smart.
and right.

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