Friday, October 15, 2010

Christopher Hitchens on electoral politics

Excellent as usual. Here's an excerpt:

I could introduce you to dozens of enthusiastic and intelligent people, highly aware of "the issues" and very well-informed on all questions from human rights to world trade to counterinsurgency, to none of whom it would occur to subject themselves to what passes for the political "arena." They are willing to give up potentially more lucrative careers in order to work on important questions and expand the limits of what is currently thinkable politically, but the great honor and distinction of serving their country in the legislature is only offered to them at a price that is now way too steep.

Consider: What normal person would consider risking their career and their family life in order to undergo the incessant barrage of intrusive questioning about every aspect of their lives since well before college? To face the constant pettifogging and chatter of Facebook and Twitter and have to boast of how many false friends they had made in a weird cyberland? And if only that was the least of it. Then comes the treadmill of fundraising and the unending tyranny of the opinion polls, which many media systems now use as a substitute for news and as a means of creating stories rather than reporting them. And, even if it "works," most of your time in Washington would be spent raising the dough to hang on to your job. No wonder that the best lack all conviction.

My family has lived in Arlington, Virginia - just about as close to D.C. as you can get without living in it - for five generations, and there hasn't been the slightest inclination among anyone in my family tree to get into electoral politics or even to work on Capitol Hill, with one exception - my great grandad ran for and won a spot on Arlington County School Board a couple times (he helped integrate Arlington County schools in the 1950s, and for those efforts the state legislature in Richmond revoked the right of Arlingtonians to elect their own School Board - so needless to say, no electoral politics after that). When you live this close to the sausage factory you don't really want any part of that.

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