Sunday, December 05, 2004

For Langston...

Not too long ago I posted a little teaser of some of my potential future blogs. In it I mentioned the possibility of me someday running for public office. In true Mark Penick fashion I never followed up on writing what I suggested I would write about. As I'm the one who subtly just mentioned to Mark that he should do what he suggested, Matt Langson was that person for me, gently nudging me in the form of an email.

I think I've mentioned before that I grew up in a fairly political family. Dad was a Union Man and Mom worked for the State of Texas, making it impossible for the decisions of lawmakers in Austin, Washington, and even Athens (county seat of Henderson County) and Chandler to go unmentioned in our household. Looking back I realize that the discussions were extremely overgeneralized, (So-and-So, aka "The Democrat" is for the Working Man while So-and-So, aka "The Republican", could care less if the Working Man dies starving in a gutter.) But they were discussions nonetheless which exposed me to political figures and ideals early on.

Because of this upbringing, the possibility of being a politician, while extremely difficult, was never out of the question or even out of reach. While the idea of running for public office has never been a driving passion of my life, it has been the Dream da'jour on several occasions. I think about it seriously probably 13-19 days out of any given year, give or take.

As some of you know, I was close to the power once. Through contacts I made in college I became an intern in the summer of 1997 on Capitol Hill for Kay Bailey Hutchison. That led me into my first real post-college job as the Staff Assistant for Sentator Hutchison's Dallas office. It was honorable work and extemely enjoyable. After a year the Pine Trees wooed me back to East Texas to be closer to friends and what could best be described at the time as "home."

The next few years had me meandering along through different jobs and further away from the political life. Only once, in late 2000, did I consider getting back into the political fray by spending time (secretly) researching the logistics behind a run for the Texas House of Representatives. Around that time was when I decided I needed to plant my feet somewhere and the community that was surrounding me at the time seemed to be as good a place as any other, and political ambitions crawled back under the surface.

The election cycle of this past year helped those ambitions surface slightly. If I ever decide to put my foot in the ring, I want it to be a well thought out move.

  • As someone (either Rich Mullins of C.S. Lewis) said, politics is such an important calling because it's not so much concerned with ideas that are "out there" but rather with real people and real situations. The opportunity to serve a constuency of people is very appealing.
  • Regardless of your Church-State issues, it must be conceded that Jesus called us to be Salt and Light and what better place to be Salt and Light than in our public institutions?
  • There is a certain amount of celebrity attached to being an elected official. Who, if we are really honest with ourselves, isn't at least a little intrigued with the idea of public recognition.


  • There is a certain amount of celebrity attached to being an elected official. The really big names (Senators, Presidents) have to spend hours a day shaking hands and smiling and remembering thousands of people's names whose feelings will be hurt if they didn't. Even small time politicians can't avoid being harassed in the store by old ladies who need the potholes fixed 0n the black-tops in front of their house.
  • Politics is mean. (Or is it Politics are mean? I don't know.) In this last election Kerry was accused of not being honorable enough in Vietnam, even though he was SHOT. Bush was accused of any potential flu outbreak that may occur. The local Rebublican, a young guy in his 20's running against Jim Dunnam, was dissed for not paying property taxes. In other words, he wasn't rich enough to own a home. I get my feelings hurt if people criticize my theology or my occasional use of profanity in my blogs. I'm not sure if I could take the personal attacks that would come with holding public office.
  • I make between 20K-30K a year. (I'll keep the exact number a secret so you don't pity me or ask me for money.) If I were to be in the Texas Legislature, the most feasible first job for a young politician, I would make around 7K a year. The job is set up to where laywers and business owners who can afford to be away from their jobs for six monts out of every other year, are the only people who can possibly handle the demands.
  • Avery, Jude, Sutton, Kyle, Jen, Ben, Jamie, Jason, Chisty, etc., live in Waco, not Austin or Washington.

So there you have it. Who knows? Of course an alternate route would be to get back into non-elected government work. Many big names have made a huge difference in politics without ever being elected. Colin Powell comes to mind. As does Elizabeth Dole, who only recently was elected to an office.

That's a lot of rambling to say that I don't know. I'm open to nudging and caution.

Well, Matt, there you have it.

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