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Politics, and Joining It

05/06/2012

 

Politics is a weird profession, yet it is so vital to our democracies all across the world. Too often people with big dreams feel they must accept small realities. Politics is seen as the dirty profession, something to be reviled, certainly not revered. All across the world people question whether leaders change anything, too often during this time of economic crisis in Ireland I have walked past signs claiming that all politicians are corrupt, that all politicians are stupid, that the common man is far better.

Why do these people not enter politics? A quote from Bill Clinton has stuck with me for a few years now. It was not proclaimed on the steps of congress, nor was it uttered the Oval Office of presidency. It was spoken in private to his wife, spoken as she contemplated running for the Presidency of The United States. It was simple “If you honestly believe you are the best person in the US to be president, then run for it. If you don’t then don’t even bother thinking about it.”

That quote speaks a lot about the things we do and why we do them. We tend to do things for the prestige, or for the money, or for something. We rarely do something because we honestly have sat back, thought about it, and believe to the point of fanaticism that we are the best person for the job. That is exactly what politics needs. There is little point in political dynasties, or cronyism. From the depths of wartime depression to the heights of prosperity, leaders sculpt the world around them. And yes foolish or greedy leaders create foolish or greedy worlds. Just remember to hold in your head that virtuous or intelligent leaders create virtuous or intelligent worlds.

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” – JFK, like almost all political leaders before and after him all tried to teach this message. However it is difficult, it is much easier to moan than it is to do something about it. Some people learn this, but most never do.

What can you do? What are your skills? Is it possible that you could be the next leader of your country? Those questions are useless ones. The only question you should ask yourself is this; do you believe you are better than everyone else? If the answer is yes, then perhaps it is time to act.

If you wonder further about the ability of leaders to change things, or of the speed of change that we see through our lifetimes, look no further than this video –Obama’s acceptance speech for presidency– It has a brilliant part where he talks about a old woman, Ann Nixon Cooper, and all that she has seen. (Starts at 12:40 in the video.) I think it sums up pretty much all I have to say.

~Sean

 

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