If you follow politics, it seems like President of the United States is the office every young politician aspires to, but so far only 44 have achieved. But I've always wondered if, once they attained the Office, the actual Job was what they expected it would be. I'd like to think that all young men and women that seek political office have the idea of wanting to help affect change both in their local community, and in their counties, states, and country to help those that might not have a political voice. Initially they see it as a noble calling, and are willing to accept what they see as a challenge to try and wade through all of what they see as the bureaucracy to try and "get something done". Few believe they are going to become part of it.
I am sure, once they began to become familiar with local politics, they began to learn the art of compromise. Compromise is the currency by which any accomplishments are made in politics, some relatively minor, some heartrendingly huge. I wonder, as they attain higher and higher Offices, if the compromises required by The Job don't ever become particularly discouraging. Especially if they still have their sights set on the Office of the President, if not necessarily The Job. The more prominent the Office, the more high profile The Job, unfortunately means the larger the compromises.
The Job of President of the United States is the performed in the largest goldfish bowl in the world. Even the smallest aspect of how you do The Job is scrutinized by everyone from the most respected political analysts to every armchair critic in every corner of the globe. Whatever ideals the young politician went into the Office with will be sorely tested by the realities of The Job. As much as they expected that compromise would become a way of life, I wonder if they realized not only on what scale, they would have to compromise, but to what level they would become vilified for it.
In hindsight of course, we knew they were men that did what they had to do to move the country forward, but look at the opposition they faced, and the fact that historians still argue over their decisions to this day. Lincoln and slavery. Roosevelt and the New Deal. Johnson and Civil Rights. These were times of great conflict, and decisions had to be made as to what was in the best interests of the largest number of American citizens. Unbeknownst to many, there were actually quite a few compromises and deals made to get these decisions made, but there were people in Office committed enough to the Job to get it done, even in the face of enormous criticism.
I am probably one of the few people honest enough to admit that as critical as I can be of politics, and politicians, I could never be a professional politician. There are far too many competing interests, and for me, far too many people willing to try to corrupt the will of the many for the interests of the few. Once you attain the highest Office in the land, and might be trying in earnest to do the Job, multiply those competing influences, and the ensuing compromises, by 1000. Then I begin to realize that, as a former supervisor used to say, that while the Office sounds glamorous, the Job is more than a notion. And I start wondering how many of these young politicos have thought long and hard about The Job. Or are they just thinking about the Office?
Side thoughts on a holiday afternoon...