I mentioned a while back that my two great interests are movies and politics. And I've been lucky enough to work in both. But one thing is true of both fields; they can be all consuming and sometimes maddening.
The entertainment business is an intense industry. Carrie Fisher's book Postcards From The Edge delves into all the manic aspects of working in an industry that is, arguably, the only one left that can legally deny someone employment because of their skin color, weight, age, gender, and height, not to mention ability. She also deftly points out that when you work on a movie you're going full speed ahead fighting the clock, the budget, personalities and just about everything else to make sure the vision of the producer or director is what appears on screen.
Looking at politics, there seems to be a little of that manic attitude there as well. Like a movie, you have to craft a message, fight obstacles to make sure the candidate and the message gets to where it's supposed to. You have to deal with the clock, the budget, personalities and, just like movie making, just about every obstacle you can think of.
This all came to mind recently because of a new friend who is very involved, behind the scenes, politically. Smart and knowledgeable about politics on a local level, she never wanted to help a national campaign because she felt acting locally could affect more change.
What surprised me, however, is how ill prepared some candidates running for office seem to be. From local council seats, to mayor, to national office, I've had a chance to sit in on some public meetings and ... well, I'm a little taken aback.
One candidate running for mayor of a city gave a stump speech that included her background, and her qualifications. When, in private, I asked her why she wanted to run for office she looked to me for a beat then said because there were several others running, and why not throw her hat into the ring?
WHAT? Was she serious? Yes, sadly she was. Her answer wasn't that she wanted to be mayor because those who are running aren't focusing on the important issues that the electorate have demanded be addressed. Or that her proposals and ideas would lead to better governance and accountability, or any of a whole bunch of other things you would think a candidate would not only say, but believe.
Another meeting, another candidate. He spoke of his accomplishments and qualifications, and the necessity of term limits because those in office where so firmly ensconced that deposing them would be impossible.
So I asked if he thought he had a chance of winning. His reply was an enthusiastic "of course." He knew he could win because poles showed that people were tired of politics as usual. "Then why term limits?" I asked. Afterall, if you can defeat an incumbent, isn't that the best form of limiting a term?
Then there was one more candidate who answered questions from the audience and gave only one answer. The rest were carefully worded responses that gave no indication of how he felt either personally, or if elected to the position.
He was questioned mercilessly and finally left frustrated.
Sadly, I think those running for office are accustomed to the mediocrity in some of our elected officials. That it isn't important to be intelligent, well read and dedicated, instead it's enough to just want it because they "think" they can do a better job.
If you're running for office and you think you can do a better job than the incumbent, tell me why, tell me how, give me details. Make me believe you and then not only will I vote for you, but I might volunteer for your campaign as well.
Otherwise, I'll just stick to movies. At least I know they're make believe.