If you read this site, you know I took some time to study - and earn a degree in - political science.
You've also read why I decided against a career in politics.
Despite my degree, and a sincere desire to make a difference in the world, I will likely never run for office.
I've Always Wanted to be Involved
As a kid, I always thought politicians were cool. They gave eloquent speeches at graduation ceremonies. The traveled the country - and at times the world - to meet new people and collaborate on ways to change the world.
I was a bit naive, but it looked like a fantastic job.
In the Boy Scouts, I had the opportunity to visit with the city mayer multiple times. I visited city council meetings. I wrote to my senators and representatives. I wanted to be involved, but I was too young.
In college, I signed up for a seminar on career selection - part of the class included being paired with two professionals with whom we could conduct informational interviews. I was still on target to be a research scientist, so my first career mentor was a physicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
My second career mentor was an Oregon state representative.
After college, I moved back to the Portland area and again tried to get involved. I applied to be a party precinct representative, but found out too late that the party meetings conflicted with some of my other obligations (so I withdrew my name, sadly leaving the seat vacant).
I also applied to be on the city's human rights advisory committee, but was not selected due to a lack of previous government experience.
Finally, I volunteered for and worked on some political campaigns. I volunteered for a presidential campaign, helping to coordinate activities at a large local rally in Portland. I also worked on two city council campaigns and a county election as well.
Even though my involvement has been minor, I've been involved - and I want more.
It Will Never Happen
Until I take five minutes to discuss politics with my friends.
I love my friends dearly, but they are the single greatest reason I have never given more than a passing thought to running for office. There are issues I care about and, while I might not have all the answers, I feel I could do some good if I had a seat at the table.
I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum - and I've seen the same thing from both: sheer and utter hate for those with a different political label.
Democrats hate Republicans for no reason other than their party affiliation. Republicans slander Democrats for no other reason than the convention in which they cast their primary vote. I have friends from both parties email me political commentary, and the vitriol contained is nauseating.
I strongly believe I'm an honest person. I strongly believe I can and would hold to my principles to accomplish a job. I strongly believe that, I'd do a thorough job and stand up for both my opinions and those of my constituents.
I also strongly believe I'd be hated by complete strangers for no other reason than a political title.
Would Anyone Trust Me?
I already have trouble sleeping at night knowing there's a job to be done, that I could do that job, and that I've sat on my hands thus far rather than get involved. Knowing I'd be judged by people I'd never met and despised no matter how good of a job I do would keep me up even more.
There are several people already doing this job. Until they prove otherwise, I will work under the assumption they're doing so honestly and in line with the principles they purport to represent. Still, I know they're hated. I know people question their ethics, even without cause to do so. I know some opinion makers[ref]Bloggers, newscasters, that crazy aunt who always sends you political cartoons during lunch, etc.[/ref] are reporting stories, conspiracy theories, and flat out lies to bolster their own audience while further deriding the politicians'.
Even if I live up to my beliefs - even if I'm honest, hold to my principles, and do the job to the best of my ability - someone, somewhere, would claim I hadn't. Someone would claim I'm corrupt. Someone would claim I lied. Someone would claim I was just as bad as we've always assumed politicians have been.
As a result, someone, somewhere, will hate me.
My biggest fear is that "someone" is one I consider a friend today.