Changing perception of politicians

High school seniors often include superlatives in their yearbook – someone is voted ‘Class Clown,’ ‘Most Athletic’ or ‘Best Smile.’

Not me. I didn’t win any cool ones like that. I won ‘Most Likely to be President’ and ‘Most Opinionated.’ Even though I am still undecided about what I want to be when I grow up, my high school classmates chose “politician” for my career.

When I graduate from Mercyhurst, I don’t know if I want to go to law school, grad school, work in politics or work in the private sector. But there is one thing I am considering: Do I really want the label “politician”?

Often, it seems as though politicians are stereotyped as greedy, power hungry people who are out of touch with reality. For example, voters during the last election cycle began sporting political buttons not in support of a candidate directly, but in opposition to the incumbent.

Their message was a reminder printed on an image of a Post-It note reading ‘Take Out the Trash November 2nd,’ which meant to dump all of the current politicians on election day.

This was just one small part of the anti-incumbent fervor that has swept the nation. With many adopting this attitude, pursuing a career in politics seems to be perceived as something you do for yourself, not as a public service.

Maybe I am an idealist, but I do not see career politicians as a detriment; rather, they make the people’s voice in the government stronger. In my opinion, politicians are not always in it for the fame and glory. They can do really great things once in Washington.

I would argue not for “taking out the trash every two years,” but completely the opposite. We should allow our representatives the time to learn, grow, and make vital connections in Washington with fellow leaders. This allows them to cross the proverbial aisle dividing ideologies and make real progress.

Being a ‘beltway insider’ has it benefits not just for the district that elects a representative who knows how to best work in their interest, but for the nation as well. Politicians who have more personal connections with one another have an easier time viewing other members as colleagues and perhaps even friends, instead of political rivals.

As I face that daunting task of growing up and figuring out what I want to do upon graduation, I do not want to completely rule out a career in politics. While in reality I am not likely to become the next president, I would consider a career in politics to be an honor regardless of my time in office.

I am not advocating for the traditional good old boys club, but rather a perception of politicians that does not condemn long tenures in Washington. By restructuring the way we see the political process, we can adopt a new idea of the politicians that make it work for us.