Is Running for Office Worth It?
Who in their right mind would run for office in this country?
We can lament the quality of candidates and the makeup of the Congress, but what smart, qualified person would even care to run? You'd have to be a completely narcissistic, power-hungry egomaniac or a fool. Many well-meaning, decent candidates learn too late they were the latter, serving as lessons for other would-be candidates that it's just not worth it.
A case in point: Herman Cain. The GOP presidential hopeful is just the latest candidate to fall victim to the witch-hunts that have become a part of today's political campaigns. And the media is all-too-complicit in the he-said, she-said finger-pointing. Should it be reported? Sure. Should it dominate his campaign to the point no one in the press asks him about anything else -- his ideas, his plans, his vision for the country?
In Herman Cain's case, we don't know what happened. There was no trial. The accusers didn't have to prove their case in court. They settled. And it's often easier to settle a claim rather than go through the hassle -- mentally, emotionally and monetarily -- of fighting it. Cain says the claims are baseless, but who are we to believe? Are we to point a finger of blame just because there were settlements when the system is set up to encourage them?
Furthermore, the New York Times reported one settlement totaled $35k while Politico reported another settlement totaled $45k. According to CNN, Cain says Politico neither showed him where they got the figure nor talked to the women at the center of the controversy.
What does this mean? It means that they likely got the figures from a rival campaign. When asked on CNN if that was the case, the Politico reporter refused to answer.
Is this what we want from our media - for them to be the middlemen, the pawns, of rival campaigns?
Very few of our founding fathers or best and brightest would be in office if they were subject to the same scrutiny and sensationalism that surrounds our candidates today. Thomas Jefferson not only had an affair, it was with the help, a young slave girl named Sally Hemings. Alexander Hamilton, too, had an extra-marital affair. Some biographers say Lincoln was gay. Ulysses S. Grant was rumored to be a raging alcoholic. Teddy Roosevelt once shot a neighbor's dog just because it snapped at him. How far do you think their campaigns would've gotten today?
Imagine if, in every job we applied for, teams of people were dispatched to dig deeply into every aspect of our lives, what would they find? We've all had things happen in our lives we're not proud of -- some things were our fault, some weren't, but may appear that way. What should we do? Hide? Never contribute to the greater good for fear of being "found out"?
If so, our future looks bleak. Our best and brightest are bright enough to know it's not worth their time or effort to run for office. And if we want better for ourselves, we need to stop dwelling on rumored transgressions or trivialities that derail so many campaigns. We need to focus on ideas and which ones are going to take our country in the direction it needs to go.