The Mr. Spock/Wrath of Khan rule of politics

From my read of local, state and national politics, Mitt Romney has this exactly right:

“Don’t ever get involved in politics if you require winning an election to pay your mortgage or if your kids are young — you don’t want money to shape your views, and you don’t want your kids’ heads turned by the attention politicians sometimes receive.”

Romney shared this advice from his father, one-time Michigan Gov. and GOP presidential hopeful George Romney, in Parade magazine. I found the quote on Political Wire.

The flash criticism might be “easy for the rich guy to say.” But I think there is a more important point. Politics, even if you do it for a long time, is not a “job.” It is a means by which things get done in a society.

My assessment of any politician is always partially influenced by the question “What would they be doing if they weren’t seeking or holding office?”If the answer is running a business, teaching school, writing screenplays, fine. Even “subsistence living in the woods” is OK by me. The most dangerous answer is “I have no idea,” which is only slightly worse than “consultant or lobbyist,” not because those vocations are inherently evil, but because mixed with elected office usually become so.

Running for office these days is like Spock going into the irradiated engine room in “Wrath of Khan.” He knows that the radiation will probably kill him. He also knows he has a short time to do something very important. And it does kill him, but he saves others in the process.

Politics changes people, even good people. It certainly changes and sometimes destroys families. When people are motivated, even in a small way, by self-preservation and maintaining the status quo in the face of change, we have bad politics. You can apply this however you like to whomever you like. No party or level of government is beyond reproach.

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