Seven years ago when my Senator ran for an elected office, he did so as a husband, father and small businessman who desired to provide an environment for individuals and businesses to succeed. He felt that in our great state, the government was more of a hindrance than a help in these efforts and decided to act. (I am sure that my constantly telling him to put his money where his mouth was had something to do with it too!) In plain truth, I was tired of hearing him complain about government and encouraged him to get involved. And he did. And he was a natural. How could he not be? My Senator was just a real person, with a real background and real life experiences. He did not have political aspirations, just hopes and dreams that were being adversely affected by the decisions made by politicians.
Fortunately, he had already read How to Win Friends and Influence Others, by Dale Carnegie and The Art of War, by Sun Tzu which prepared him for this experience. Have I mentioned that politics is a blood sport?
Last week politics became personal around here. On Wednesday evening the Senator was home and out back playing basketball with the kids. As I was cleaning up from our family dinner, I played the messages on our answering machine and had the pleasure of listening to a ‘robo call’ disseminated throughout the district about my Senator.
Just for definitions sake, a ‘robo call’ is an automated phone call. It is also an inexpensive (less than 5 cents per call) and efficient method of getting a message out to targeted households, which is why it is commonly used by politicians and special interest groups. The only legal requirement that pertains to the ‘robo call’ is that the person paying for it, whether an individual or group, must include their name and phone number in the message. So, basically when someone decides to send out an automated message, they can say pretty much whatever they want, true or false, as long as they include that little name and number at the end of the call.
After a few phone calls it appeared that this particular robo call was used by a special interest group to promote a cause and to advance the political aspirations of another legislator. However, at the end of the day I know the robo call only accomplished three things:
1. It provided my Senator with the opportunity to talk to a lot of his constituents. He has a lot of friends in and out of his district who were confused by the obvious politicization of an important issue. So, in that regard, this was the silver lining and a great opportunity for him to stay in touch with his constituents. He has really terrific constituents!
2. It put one political relationship in jeopardy, strengthened several others, while the status of this particular issue remained the same.
3. It helped me realize why good people are skeptical about running for public office. Because at the end of each day full of political drama and stress, the Senator and I know one thing to be true; the political games being played by career politicians and their special interest groups at the Capitol pale in comparison to family dinners and shooting baskets out back with our children.
That is what life is all about, really.