Politics can be personal, but better when it’s not.
As a political consultant, and having been involved in politics for the past fourteen years, I often forget how personal campaigns can get.
Coming off the past few months as consultant for the No on Measure I campaign (the Mayor’s infrastructure tax/bond measure), it had sometimes gotten heated—from both sides.
Ideals get mixed up with passions, and the heat of campaigning intensifies all of the bad things that both sides can imagine about the other. When the dust settles following the campaign, it’s in the best interest of everyone if both sides work together to achieve common goals, but human nature often gets in the way.
I’m not naïve, and I shouldn’t be surprised either, as I’ve gone through this before.
In 2000, my dad ran for Long Beach City Council and won, and ran again in 2004, and lost. I helped him with the day to day logistics of both campaigns, and it was the most intensely personal of any campaign I’ve ever been on. Personal attacks, exaggerated claims, rumors, gossip, and just an overall level of nastiness. There were a myriad of reasons why we lost, and to this day, when I mention one reason in my column, I will get an email from somebody disputing that reason for another.
It was so intensely personal, and left such a bad taste in my mouth, I swore off politics forever. Instead, I became a ballroom dance instructor for Arthur Murray, learning how to sell an idea, and also learning how to become instant friends with the people walking through the door. After about a year of success at Arthur Murray, the political bug that lives inside of me started to itch, and I decided to jump back into the scene with a different perspective.
Ever since then, politics has never been personal for me, it’s always been business. Which also means that people I had never thought of working with, or against, I am now doing both.
Politics makes for strange bedfellows.
It also works best when the personal is taken out of the political, and people focus on the merits of whatever issue their debating.
On Measure I, or any other issue that affects us as Long Beach citizens, or Californians, or Americans, it’s best to take the personal out of politics, and get down to the business of making our communities a better place to live.
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