Someone commented on one of my recent live streams, in which I touched on some political stuff from a practical outsider perspective, that I should run for political office.
Though it was a tongue in cheek comment, I appreciate the sentiment.
I think I’d be good at politics. Telling people the truth (as I see it), giving context to that truth, and sharing with the people what they need to hear — not just what they want to hear. The political landscape could use a healthy dose of Work On Your Game.
But it would never work. For multiple reasons…
1) Politics is where “keeping it real” goes wrong.
Here’s a truth: the masses of people would rather hear a lie that they like, than to hear a truth that slaps them in the face.
Those slaps are the fun of what I do for a living. Take that away, and who am I?
Politicians aren’t allowed to slap anyone with truth. When’s the last time you heard a politician offer what you’d label a “harsh truth”? They don’t do it. Those truths would offend too many people who expect the elected official to “fix” everything for them.
This is the very illusion that drives many people to polling places. This is not to say that politicians don’t do anything — but they don’t affect personal outcomes as much as some people want to believe. Those who do think so, don’t want to hear a harsh truth from the very person who was supposed to be fixing things.
That person (me) would never secure political funding, let alone win a primary, let alone a general election. Fuggedaboutit.
2) Politicians have to massage the truth in order to slip it past you.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Satisfying one group of the constituency would mean less satisfaction for another group. This is a basic reality when resources are finite. When’s the last time you heard a politician articulate such a point?
Other than, “we should raise taxes on the rich,” I never hear it. That doesn’t mean those affects don’t happen, though. They just happen quietly, under the guise of complex bills and hidden agendas that every politician must partake in to keep their job.
And, if they have to speak on it, they offer enough political-speak gobbledegook that 99% of people wouldn’t catch the bullishit hidden within the statement.
This isn’t a trashing of how politics works. It’s a telling of how politics works. As they say, “don’t hate the player — hate the game.” I add onto that, “don’t hate the game, either — WORK ON your Game!”
Either way, I don’t like massaging truth. Fail for me.
3) Politicians have to pretend to like people that they don’t really like.
Office politics happen in government just as much as it happens in private businesses.
Not every Democrat likes all the other Democrats. Same with Republicans. Do you think Presidents like everyone who works in the White House? Do Senators and Congresspeople like every lobbyist who cuts them checks?
Hell no. This is all part of the game. I wouldn’t be good at this game because I’m not good at being fake with people. Politicians have to be fake for a living. Honest politicians are hard to find — because their political careers are quite short.
4) I’d eventually face the people.
After all my fakery and lying to obtain and maintain my job in politics, I would one day come into contact with some of the people I’d been elected to serve.
They’d tell me how they had voted for me the first time. Then, of their current problems and how those issues had not improved in the 2-4 years in which I had been in office; an indirect way of letting me know that I hadn’t yet earned their next vote.
At this point in the exchange, I would have three choices.
One: Use my political public speaking training (I’d have a full time staff person who helps with this) to both appease and confuse that person at the same time — enough time for me to get away from them and shake the next hand.
WIN via lying and truth-massaging.
Two: Tell them the truth that it is not the government’s job to solve individual citizens’ problems.
Three: Tell a different truth: their business is failing because they suck at running their business, or that they’re unemployed because they don’t have the requisite skills to get the jobs they’ve gone after, or that industry is leaving their town because the world has evolved while this dead-end city is stuck in the past; they should probably move.
Personally, I default to some version of options 2 or 3.
All that said, I would never make it in politics. I’ll stick to the private sector.
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