I watch politics, too closely I think but that’s as far as my participation goes. I prefer sitting on the fence rather than getting involved through, say, running for office. First of all, I don’t have the resources, especially money which let’s be honest, you need to start anything.
Not everybody who gets into politics does so for the money but most people do, otherwise we wouldn’t hear about kickbacks and underhanded deals every other day. Politicians need cash to mobilise support and run their campaigns. That’s why some are forced to take money from lobbyists and questionable characters who demand favours once “their” candidate wins office.
That pressure alone would drive me nuts. Then there’s the constant ridiculing. I may be guilty of this myself and I have to say, I really enjoy the stand up routines poking fun at politicians and public figures but I’m not sure I’d handle it myself. I don’t for instance know how Barack Obama coped with it.
The name-calling and disrespect went on throughout his presidency. There was also the Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at George W. Bush! My jaw dropped. Yes President Bush made many mistakes but did he deserve to be humiliated that way? Donald Trump is clearly upset at all the jokes comedians are making at his expense and regularly lashes out as any sensitive person would. Some people invite the mockery and criticism.
If you’re involved in a brawl, are caught having an affair or draft draconian laws, people are going to write and talk about it. However, there are also those who just want to do the job and I think they deserve some space. I think what would irritate me the most are the rumours and blatant lies.
Sometimes people make up all kinds of stuff and the public believes them. If I read something I knew was false, I would want to go out and set the record straight but you can’t do that every time otherwise you wouldn’t have time to do anything else. Then there are attacks on your family who in most cases have nothing to do with your policies.
Once a politician takes office, his spouse, children and friends say goodbye to their own privacy. Similarly if a close associate or relative does something disgraceful, it is tied to the politician. While it’s important to hold our elected officials accountable as that’s part of democracy, we also need to remember that they’re human and the only difference is the spotlight on them.
There was a time I scoffed at politicians who were quick to remind us that they were making sacrifices by serving and I would go, “Oh come on, who asked to you to run?” I know better now. Think of Nelson’s Mandela’s 27-year-prison sentence. That is sacrifice. India’s Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
So was Martin Luther King Jr. These men’s families were robbed of time with their loved ones. I’m glad I didn’t go through what their families did and in fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m certain I will never venture into politics. Not even for the money and I could use some money!