Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What me? A politician?

I thought I would ramble on some more about politics today. I remember when I first decided to run for Sheriff. As a union leader at the City Police Department I often got into "discussions" with chiefs. Okay, maybe they were not so much discussions as they were heated arguments. Okay, maybe sometimes that was an understatement. Anyway, after those discussions I would march off, sometimes with a smug look on my face and sometimes with disgust or anger percolating from every pore in my body. As I left their office I often thought to myself, "If I were the chief I would do things differently." Now that I am on the dark side, (management), I have a lot more respect for many of the decisions those chiefs made. One day I was reading the morning paper after leaving the city police and going into private business. I read an article about the filing deadlines for county offices. I told my wife I wanted to run for Sheriff, and off I went to pay my $25 filing fee. I would get elected and run a department my way.

I started campaigning and one day someone called me a politician. Whoa, what was that you called me? A politician? I was running for a political office, I guess that made me a politician. It took me a while to get used to that reality. I think everyone who runs for office, especially local offices really don't start out thinking of themselves as a politician instead they want to effect change, or maybe they want to right something they thought was wrong or fix something in the system that didn't work right. Or maybe its not just a slogan and they really want to give back to the community or make things better for their children. But I really do not believe that anyone starts out for local offices saying to themselves, "I want to become a politician". It just happens, it is part of what happens when you run for an office.

If you are lucky enough to get what you wish, (be careful what you wish for I was told many times). Then you become a politician. Its an immediate occurrence. Some people don't realize immediately but it happens. There is something else that happens during the campaigning or shortly after the election. You grow a thick skin. You have to, its a survival mechanism. You will never make everyone happy and some days you don't make anyone happy. You will be called names. Lies will be told about you. Truths will be told about you in ways that become lies.

This is all really not that hard to deal with. Its what happens to your family and friends that is the hardest to deal with. They believe in you and support you and usually have the hardest time dealing with the things people say about you. You encourage them to grow thick skins also. But because they believe in you and you in them it all works out. It actually can become a growing experience for all of you if you take that attitude towards it all.

Getting back to the politician thing, I have come to the realization that yes I am a politician. It often makes me laugh when I see someone who has been in politics for some time trying to say they are not. Or when someone running for the first time says they are not a politician. That only works the first time. Once they are elected whether they admit it or not that is what they become. But why does that word evoke a bad connotation? Name your top ten people who have made a difference in the world you live in. I challenge you to do so in an honest way and not include politicians. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, all found themselves becoming politicians. Dr. Martin Luther King and others used politics and pushed for political answers to effect the changes they desired. Whether its the garbage from our homes, the street signs and speeders, the protection of our way of life or keeping our neighborhoods livable we elect politicians to handle these problems and we look to them when these things are not right. Sometimes we decide that we will roll up our sleeves and effect change ourselves. When we do that many times we become..........A Politician.

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