Do you also get tired of watching politicians get nothing done?
Let’s set aside conservative vs liberal. Let’s set aside Republican vs Democrat. Let’s set aside Conservative vs Labour. Put all of that aside, and let’s just look at politics today. Do you ever just get sick and f&^king tired of watching politicians doing nothing? Getting nothing done?
Forgive me for being selfish, but allow me to use myself as an example. I work a full-time job. I log forty hours a week (meaning I probably actually ‘work’ thirty-ish hours, but shhhh). I have a literary career (shut up, I do too!) that requires far more time and energy than it has any right to do. I’m the primary career-giver for two parents. I have a house that needs to be cleaned and meals that need to be cooked. I have a lot to do.
So imagine my envy at watching people, who theoretically represent the best and brightest minds of their communities, doing positively f&^kall!
Pick your favorite politician. Anybody you want. Can you tell me what they’ve actually gotten done? Can you name what legislation they’ve actually passed? Can you tell me what bills have actually made it into law? I will wager you that the answer is No.
Pick your most hated politician. Pick the political figure you hate the most. What have they accomplished? What have they passed or signed or pushed into law? With a few exceptions, I’ll imagine the answer isn’t specific bills but in actuality, it’s what they’ve KEPT from being passed. It’s the bills they voted against, the legal work that they’ve killed.
Whole political careers are being defined at this moment, not by what is accomplished, but by what is being kept from being done. Politicians are defining their political legacies by the legal abortions they have made happen.
Can you imagine any other line of work where your praise, where your credentials, where your entire CV, was based on things you kept from getting done? Can you imagine any other place where such toxic obstructionism was tolerated?
I’m passed incensed and disgusted and I’m frankly envious. I wish I had a job where my whole role was basically to be an uncooperative dick. Where my entire resume was based on how much of an unhelpful ass I could be.
And let’s be clear, for more than a few politicians, this is their claim to fame. How many political ads do you see about ‘not being a Washington insider’? How many ads do you see about someone ‘not playing politics’? Those are buzzwords for ‘obstructionist’. That’s a ploy so that they can keep the government from working, and then blame the government they broke for not working. It’s disgusting.
I know there are exceptions. I know there are people who are working hard to achieve goals, to build coalitions, to coordinate and compromise and make progress. Just like I know that the stress and demand placed on politicians is absolutely insane. Did you know politicians have to fund-raise? Not just for their own campaigns, but for their political parties? Every single member of the House and the Senate in the United States has to straight-up phone bank for their caucuses. Every single one of them. Even the super-important, super-powerful ones like the Speakers and the Majority Leaders. They still get into those crap-ass cubicles and have to make calls, begging for money.
They have to spend hours a day, on planes, flying to and from districts and states and offices. I get that they are under a huge demand. I truly, truly do.
But my sympathy for that stress is only valid until A) they stop doing the job for which they are stressed and B) they have the power to undo a bunch of that stress.
At the end of the day, a career in politics is its own prison. And the prisoners have the keys to their own cells. They can remedy things as soon as they choose to. They choose not to. And until we convince them to choose differently, we endure a very different but no less hellish imprisonment all our own.