Friday, August 17, 2007I am a dork. How can I deny it? I used to collect comic books and play role playing games,I love sci fi and fantasy novels, and I play video games. Along with my pasty white skin, this makes me a nearly quintessential dork. For years and years I wanted to run for office, but was worried that I was just too nerdy. I had visions of people like John Kennedy in my mind, and I knew I didn't have 1/1000th the charisma of that guy.
Part of my barely mitigated geekdom was my fascination with politics. I watched C-SPAN, practically memorized the Almanac of American Politics, and followed the 1992 Presidential election campaign obsessively. When I visited Washington D.C. in college and met a lot of the people I'd seen on TV and read about, I was a little star-struck. To me, they were like rock stars.
Then I got to know some of them. I realized that far from being too dorky for politics, being a dork is virtually a requirement. These Senators and Congressmen were just regular people. If not for their entourage, you'd never know they weren't managers at Wendy's or something.
When I was interning for a Senator on the Hill, I saw a lot of those people I'd been so dazzled by. There was the one who was obnoxiously stupid (with a fixed and slightly creepy grin on his face), the one who hated his job, and the one who was afraid of crowds (odd career choice). When I was living in New York I got to know a lot more elected types, and once again, they seemed...normal. There was the one who couldn't get over that one big race he lost (the fish that got away), the one who ate nothing but pizza, and the one who really loved his mom -he talked about her all the time). I mean all this in a good way. After a while you just stopped being intimidated by their titles and saw them as human beings - the usual mix of weirdness and surprises.
I guess what I'm try to say is that the people who get elected to office aren't much different from you. Sure, a few of them were the popular kids in high school who were "most likely to succeed." But far more of them were the sort that got stuffed in lockers and not asked to the prom. In my experience, the latter type greatly predominate in politics. I'm not sure whether that's because there's just more of us in the general population, or because we have more to prove (while the popular kids just coast through life).
Whatever the cause, let's just say that I learned that I fit right in, and that a surprising number of people who don't like politics would fit in just fine too.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:38 AM