Monday, August 3, 2009

Lest you think me always a fool

Once upon a time I dreamed of politics...

I once mentioned to a professor that I was interested in getting into politics. His words were “Why would you want to do that to yourself?” I was surprised by his response but his question was valid. Getting into the world of politics is hard work, it is often a messy business and you are forced to deal with difficult and complex choices. And yet politics has always appealed to me, even since my youth. One of my early memories was watching the TV as the electoral votes accumulated behind George Bush and Bill Clinton, while only a zero sat behind Ross Perot. Later as I advanced in my schooling, I learned about political scandals and heard of bitter debates which divided friends, and so I was tempted to expunge politics from my mind. But the effort was in vaind, politics was just too attractive for me to refuse it.

Part of my attraction is based on the idea that politics allows me a chance to make a difference. It's a cliché concept, but it is still appealing nonetheless. Being involved in politics, in the thoughts and debates over how the country should be run, even being involved in the government without any ideological component, gives me an opportunity to help improve the world, if only in a small way. Politics is influential and being part of it gives me an opportunity tobecome influential. Through increasing regulation or decreasing it, through steering the government conservatively or liberally, the actions of those involved in politics send vibrations throughout the wider world. Given the size and scope of the governemnt and the prestige and prominance it holds, those involved in politics can influence the world even without any desire to change policy. If those involved in politics are simply more efficient, then the government will be more efficient and all the business ventures, educational enterprises, and bureaucracies which are involved in, regulated by, or receive assistance from the government become more efficient. Getting involved in the government, or in politics, allows me to become a part of the impact that politics has on the nation. To be honest, though, politics is not the only way to make a difference. Art, charity, and a number of other fields also offer an opportunity to change the wolrd, although perhaps to a lesser degree than politics. And so while my desire to make a difference explains part of my attraction to politics, it is not the only reason.

Perhaps the most important factor in my desire to get involved in politics is simply that I find politics fascinating. Politics is the result of the votes, opinions, and actions of the entire population as well as the day-to-day interaction between politicians. There are a million stories in those thoughts and meetings, the stories of peaceful cultural movements that bring down racist demagogues, the stories of the quiet bureaucrats who manage the logistics wthat save the lives of our soldiers, the stories of men and women who resist corruption and the tragic stories of those who fall to it. These stories tickle the imagination and engross the analytical mind, and part of the reason I am so enchanted by politics. And yet there is more than that. Politics is also history unfolding. Thea citons of the government today set the stage for what will happen in thew world tommorow. Wise foreign policy decisions can promote peace, a faulty economic policy can provoke a recession, a well-informed educational policy can open opportunity to millions. And beyond policy, if the government earns the respect of the people and inspires them through its actions, then the cultural atmosphere of the nation will be lifted in spirit. The influence politics has on history has always been an irresistible lure for me, and has guaranteed that my attention remains with politics.

Politics is often a thankless field. Voters expect everything from politicians, and blame them for everything that goes wrong. Yet I still find politics immensely attractive. Part of it is my desire to make a difference, but a large part of it is that I just find politics immensely interesting. That is why I'd like to become part of the political world, even if in a role that does not involve my personal opinions. To simply become part of the political process would be a wonderful experience, it would engage my interest and offer me an opportunity to serve the people through the politics and perhaps make a difference that way. Politics is a pert of me, even if I tried to get rid of my interest in poltics, and I have tried, it would still be a part of me. And so, despite the fact that I know the political world is not necessarily a pretty one or a happy one, I still think that it is an honor to get involved in it.

No comments: