Imposition 2012-Beware of the Politics of the Possible

   Beware of the politician who tells you he/she is a "politician of the possible." He may mean he thinks whatever he wants is possible, while what you want is not as likely. How do politicians develop their characteristics as humans and, since we are all in politics of some kind, how can we see what is in our leaders?

   Some politicians are just not very good. That is, they do not spend enough time, energy or resources learning their craft. When a man like that talks to you he means it is possible he would like to hold office. Any good he might do would be ancillary.

   I worked for one such fellow. He thought he could wait until the last moment, then get everyone in a room and just persuade them to his way. He thought he could argue other determined men and women away from their own stated positions, away from their own best interests, away from their own constituencies. He seemed genuinely suprised when others would not budge.

   "People just need to feel consulted," he would often say. "They need to hear your heart."

   Some of the people he consulted pulled his beating heart out of his chest and showed it to him. Others just nodded wisely and went on what their own hearts said.

   He was not very good. In fact, he was not the first or even second choice for his position, which should have told me something about working for him. If a fellow gets his position by other than merit, he is a danger. If he cannot grow into his position, he is a menace.  

   Then, there are those politicians who just do not know what is possible. The old-time politicians often said, about votes, "you have to count them and then vote them." That is, you have to know who is with you, who is not and you have to mobilize them to vote with you at the needed moment.

   There are those who want to be recognized as leaders. They see other office holders who seem to be tough, pragmatic politicians. They want the same recognition real leaders get.

   Woodrow Wilson, a man of his age, once said "…leaders of men (his phrase) are like fire. When you come into their presence you know them immediately and you know not to touch them. They burn."

   The leader who is not hot to the touch gets pushed a lot. He shows his stripes when he pushes back against people who might be his friends or, at worst, neutral, and so persuadable. If he leaves his antagonists alone while he savages his friends, he  is just not a leader. Do not listen to him talk about what is possible.

   A politician who repeats the same phrases and goes the same failed route is leading you to the impossible, not the possible. He will not take you home. He will take you wandering. When you get home, someone else will be in your house.

   Learn to ask the follow-up question to the fellow who tells you he is a pragmatic politician, a vote counter who will do what he can but is only going to be able to do what is possible. He is smiling you out the door. Learn to ask him the follow-up question. Try to help him see you know the answer to your question, which is not asked out of ignorance, but in hopes of helping him see what might really be possible.

   What should a politican actually do? He should do the same things you do every day of your life.

   That is, he should see and do what is necessary to do each day. Every day brings its challenges but it is the drudgery that really must be done. People have to eat, things have to get cleaned, a roof has to be over your head at night. Days become weeks and weeks months and month years and years become a life-time, some short, some long, but a life that is a success is something you build on the work day necessities.

   You succeed this year only if you work hard today. And you must plan to work just as hard tomorrow. 

   Your politician will have to see and do what is noble, along with what is necessary. Nobility does not win elections or help a fellow keep office once he owns it. Nothing of substance ever gets done without some semblance of a noble bent, however. 

   No one will vote for meanness, indecency, unkindness. The worst bigots of the past always have had to viel their hateful impulses in a representative republic. Remember the follow-up question to the fellow who pushes out what is "possible" in his politics but look at the nobility of his purpose, regardless of his words.

   After all, you do what is noble every day. You raise a family, give an honest day's work or an honest day's pay, you strengthen your nation and help  your neighbors. You are noble. Insist those who lead you tell you their own noble story. If there is none (no nobility), cast them aside. If there is a noble purpose, question it. If there is nobility after your question, vote for it.




Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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