You’ve heard it said millions of times, that someone is unfit for public office because he or she is a “career politician.”
I want to speak in favor of those who choose politics for a living, those who select public service as a career goal. I’ve never quite understood why these “career politicians” so often are held up as figures to be ridiculed, denigrated, reduced to four-letter words.
I am not a Pollyanna about this stuff, mind you. I’ve been watching career pols do their jobs for a long time. I spent nearly 37 years in the journalism trenches reporting and commenting on their activities. Some of them were, um, less than noble. I concede that point with no hesitation.
I’ve watched a few of them up close attain national stature. The meanest of them no doubt was the late Jack Brooks, the Democratic congressman from the Golden Triangle of Texas. He used to refer to himself as Sweet Old Brooks. Yep, he was an SOB, but he was “our SOB,” or so the saying went in Beaumont, Port Arthur and throughout Brooks’s congressional district.
Here’s the thing about Brooks: He got things done for his district. His constituents re-elected him many times because his staff did a good job of listening to people’s needs, concerns, gripes.
Career pols comprise a shrinking portion of Congress these days. Voters have expressed themselves with their ballots, turning away politicians who perhaps overstay their welcome. They bring in newcomers. In this current climate, many of the newbies see themselves as media stars, pushing their way into view of TV cameras. I cannot predict how they will wear over time.
I am not going to dismiss them immediately as flashes in the pan, although I am quite willing to make an exception to that rule: e.g., GOP U.S. Rep. George Santos of New York, the serial liar who needs to get the boot at the next election.
All told, though, I welcome career politicians. Someone has to do this job. Those who are willing and able to make public service a career and are willing to serve honorably, well … may they continue in their chosen field.