Thursday, June 11, 2009

Deep Thoughts and Shallow Views #1: The Political Arena and High School Cast of Characters

I was not a particularly popular person in high school. That’s not to say that I was ‘unpopular’ or on the lower end of the social spectrum. I seemed to fit that nice place between popular and harassed. Sure, people knew me in school. I was involved in music, theater, and had many friends. I was even known to have a few buddies who played Varsity sports. But, in the end, I was able to see high school and its different personalities from a relatively neutral position in that hierarchy - and I enjoyed that view.

It strikes me that there is little difference between the personalities of those in high school and the political arena. I do not mean the policies, politics, and beliefs, but the personalities themselves. Take, for example, Mitt Romney. He seemed like that rich kid who, on paper, could be an arrogant jerk, but never was. He had the nicest car, the nicest clothes and he never had to have a summer job. He might be that rich kid you knew who volunteered a lot but volunteered teaching kids how to fence or play some hoity-toity sport… But in the end, he still volunteered and was pretty cool to everyone.

On the other hand let’s look at someone like Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel reminds me of that sadistic bastard we all knew in high school. Maybe he played on one of the teams, and although he hung out with the popular kids, he was no superstar. This did not stop him from always following around the popular kids a few paces back and as they passed by the geeks, he was the one who shoved them into the wall. Cackling out loud about it, you might hear him saying to one of the popular kids, “Did you see that? Did you see what I just did to that loser? Yeah, that was cool. Hey guys, did you hear me? Yeah... cool”

Emanuel was that kid that the popular kids had to do their dirty work. The saddest part is that kid never realizes that the only reason he gets to go to the parties, the only reason he has any worth to the popular kids, is because he is the one who is doing their bidding. His is their pet pit bull but more replaceable than a dog.

Joe Biden would be that kid you knew who was nice to everyone. He did not have lot of money and worked every day after school. Eventually he would save up enough money to buy an older, possibly beat-up, car, but that was o.k. with him. No one would ever make fun of his car because, although not flashy, it was well taken care of. Also, everyone knew he bought it with his own hard-earned money. Even though no one would admit it, especially the rich kids, everyone admired his ability to earn his own way in life. His self-worth was not given to him by others.

The "Joe Biden" high school personality was one of those kids who seemed to be friends with everyone. He was always the life of the party, albeit inappropriate at times, but everyone knew it was harmless and in the end he was a pretty fun guy to be around.

One of the worst kinds of personalities in today’s politics are those who are now in some sort of office, but you know were picked on in high school…a lot. And, sadly, the reality is that their sole motivation to run for office is not about service or even pure power. It is motivated by that line they mumbled to themselves as the “Rahm Emanuel” type shoved them into the wall, “One day, I’ll show them. I’ll be someone and I won’t let anyone pick on me again.”

This sort of personality might be the worst. They seem to attack anyone that they perceive to stand in their way, even on their own team. The will run for any office they can, simply for acceptance. They are the ones that start rumors and act the most childish but somehow have, in fact, won an elected office or two. These types of people are not suited for office at higher levels but try anyway. Ultimately they end up diluting the pool of candidates and their scorched-earth approach only serves to hurt the party which they claim to love.

Then there are the cheerleader/prom queen types. The image-obsessed, shallow types who may or may not be intelligent - no one knows for sure. They are the embodiment of trophies and are treated with about as much dignity… but in others’ defense, these types of people do not ask for much respect,they see it as the price they have to pay for admission into the cool-kids club.

Understand that all of the previously listed personalities can really apply to men or women, but the cheerleaders/prom queen-monsters tend to be the wives of politicians. They are the ones who smile to the point of permanence whether they are thanking a donor, cursing someone else’s spouse, or mocking another’s’ child. They are the ones who only value is the person they married and their sadness and deep-seeded anger that rages inside comes from the fact that they know this and yet act as if it is not true. In a sense, they live a lie.

The cheerleader/prom queen types could perhaps be someone independently successful themselves but, instead, have decided to play the role of accessory to their spouse’s political career – kind of like a fancy necklace does on an Oscar night outfit. They wear their spouse’s position on their sleeve and even think they are the politician themselves. The exceptions to these types would be folks like Dr. Jill Biden, Former Senator Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Cindy McCain and, of course, First Lady Michelle Obama. No one can argue that these women need anyone’s coat tails to ride in order to be successful.

I am sure there are so many others we could think of but, in the end, the reality is that the world of politics is not much better than the cafeteria of an average high school during lunch.

Take some time and think about those personalities you knew in school and see if you can’t see some of them in members of Congress, or in state or local government. It is a fun game to be sure… That is unless you were that bully, spoiled snob, geek shoved into the wall or even worse, the shallow cheerleader/prom queen. In that case, never mind.
Deep Thoughts and Shallow Views is a (mostly) weekly satirical column about politics, current events, sports or pop culture.

1 comment:

gordon gekko said...

My belief is that your average politician was a total loser in high school.

Not talented enough to be an athlete, a musician or an actor so they worked in the school as an office assistant or hall monitor.

They got elected to student councils because people who actually had talent didn't give a crap.... They were busy doing things that people with talent actually do.

All the while, they were waiting to be elected some day to get their recognition as someone important and interesting.