In Defense of Politicians

It’s possible to say anything and make yourself look like a rock star. I always think of this during political season, as I watch the punditry begin and try to ferret out the truth. The charts, graphs, PAC-skewed stats all begin to sound less and less like a contest for the people who are about to “improve” my universe and more and more like a sportscaster in an MMA cage match.

A lot of things politicians say sound pretty good, but when I figure out what they really mean, I throw tomatoes and shout at the television just like every other Monday morning quarterback watching his favorite team. “Hey, you bums! How could you fumble the ball? You’re comparing the wrong stats! Give me the job numbers!”

Then I think of myself and my own experience in life, and feel like a giant hypocrite. Because we all do the exact same thing. I am not immune to the art of spin or what I like to call the “political euphemism.”

Let’s examine the fine art of resume writing. I found a copy of one of my first resumes.  Apparently, I held a position somewhere in a role that was “supervisory, responsible for thousands of dollars in inventory circulation, and required being a highly-motivated self-starter.” Not bad for eighteen. Read further: McDonald’s. “Supervised staff of three motivated workers in planning, organizing, and budgeting department activities for programming,” was my summer job running a camp arts and crafts department. Though I technically supervised three teens, only one stuck around while the other two disappeared to the local 7-11 Slurpee bar, leaving me and one meek 15 year-old to tell Kid One he couldn’t pee in the corner just because the stalls were full, and to watch Kid Two who was, for some mysterious reason, not authorized to have scissors. It was my introduction to “how not to manage.”

Other embellishments: I can honestly say I went to Harvard. Once, to meet a favorite college professor who was serving a term as a visiting professor. We had lunch. The second time, I had to do some research at one of the libraries. I managed to use my connections to secure a fake library card—I’m not proud that while most of my cool friends boasted getting fake IDs at young ages, I was getting fake library cards at well over 21—but that’s the way nerds roll.

I can also say with complete truthfulness that I have run in the US Track & Field Championships. This was about 6 years ago, and they were run simultaneously with the CVS 5K in Providence, RI. The “champions” and contenders ran in the first heat.  I ran in the thousandth heat. I was passed by two guys in wheelchairs, a lady with a BOB stroller, the entire Providence Police cadet platoon marching in formation, and an eight-year old running after his mom and said stroller. But it’s true that the event hosted the UST&F Championships, and therefore, I “ran the UST&F Championships.” Because I did not walk.

Although I haven’t done it yet, I’d still like to take an Open Course at MIT, so I can add that to my list of “accomplishments.” I’ll be able to say I “studied at MIT” if, in fact, I give the course it’s proper due. But if I instead simply hop the T and put one foot over the river Charles, I’ll be able to say truthfully that I “went to MIT.” And that would be awesome, indeed. And much, much easier than studying.

So, I am willing to forgive the candidates for spinning like whirling dervishes and Maytag washing machines at the end of a long rinse cycle, as long as they put on a good show. I’ll take it all with a grain of salt, and sit down with my popcorn to enjoy the entertainment. And maybe, if we’re really, really lucky, we’ll actually elect a few energetic people with reasonable talking-points who intend to make something magic happen for all of us. I suppose I can forgive the embellishments they commit on their road to be chosen. Because if I look deep enough into myself, I do the same exact thing.

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