Monday, October 23, 2006

I'm Sorry

Tonight, as we drove home from work, Julie read aloud the cover article of Rolling Stone"Time to Go! Incompetent, Lazy & Corrupt. Inside the Worst Congress Ever. Meet the 10 Worst Congressmen". By no means do I consider this magazine to be a first rate or reliable source of political information but it caused me to remember my short experience in fundraising and to pose a question about politicians.

First, my fundraising experience. I fell into the job by accident. I had told a VP that was I was not happy in my job and would not accept another contract. He replied that he had an open position in fundraising. Being young, naïve and having children enrolled in school, I accepted the position.

I began working in an office without a direct supervisor and no experienced staff. Feeling totally unqualified at taking a position without training or experience, I began reading everything I could find. I learned people give to success. Talking about needs and begging for money isn’t productive. Instead, talk about opportunities and dreams. Paint a picture of a winning endeavor. Talk about the good the person will accomplish with their financial gift and how they will be part of a winning effort.

I didn’t have a problem with this approach. The glass is half full rather than half empty.

The job went sour quickly.

With the exception of myself and one secretary, the staff was replaced and vacant positions were filled. We attempted to raise money to renovate a building and complete some other projects but we didn’t get enough cash. My attitude was “No problem. Be honest with people.” However, I soon discovered that appearing successful is more important than actually being successful. Rather than being honest, the powers that existed at that time approached some young alumni and asked them to purchase life insurance policies with the university as the beneficiary. As a result of this action, it was possible to announce success. We raised hundreds of thousands of dollars – not in cash but in pledges and life insurance purchased by graduates in their thirties. Without cash, the building was not renovated and no project was completed.

It was, in my opinion, a complete failure. I believed -- and still believe -- that we should have been honest with donors and especially with ourselves. We should have said “We failed. Let’s figure out what went wrong and make sure it never happens again.” We didn’t. In an unbelievable dream land I witnessed professionals believe their own lies. The glass was half empty but they convinced themselves it was full. They congratulated themselves on a good job and ignored the truth.

Now, for the question raised by my fundraising experience. Could it be that while trying to deceive voters, politicians have begun believing their deception. Have they deceived themselves? Do they truly and sincerely believe? Maybe they aren’t as guilty of criminal actions as I once thought. Perhaps they are victims.

We limit the president to two terms. Perhaps we should limit all politicians to two terms. By doing so, we could minimize their self-deceptive behavior.

In fact, I’ve convinced myself. It’s our fault. We voters are the guilty ones. Look at what we’ve done. We keep re-electing politicians and they’ve begun to believe it’s OK to be dishonest. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

I'm sorry for what I've done to these men and women. I think I'll correct my mistake on November 7.


Blogger Round Belly said...


10/24/2006 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

Term limits is an excellent start. I think a viable, middle-of-the-road party would be a good thing. Destroying that smoke filled backroom where the good ol' boys and girls decide who gets elected doesn't seem a bad thing either.

10/24/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Clayton said...

You wrote: " Could it be that while trying to deceive voters, politicians have begun believing their deception."

I think you're on to something, Paul. Make it the general case: I probably believe most of my lies-- especially after I've repeated them a few times.

Trouble with lies is you lose your grip of truth. For a great many of us we no longer have any idea what truth is.

Do the advertisers believe what they sell? They can't be that stupid; but lying makes you stupid.

You've got me ranting.

10/24/2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

I'm sorry too. I am looking forward to making it up to them on November 7th by booting them out of office. I hope they accept our apologies and move on.

10/24/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

You are so right about this, Paul. When America was in it's most dire need, who stepped up to do the dirty work? It was the citizen soldier, the greatest generation, who had no desire whatsoever to be career military men, but knew a job had to be done, and they did it. Why hasn't this concept been realized in politics? You should have one shot to prove you can serve your fellow Americans, either as a senator, a representative, a governor, or as president for another term, then, if they agree, serve that term to the best of your ability, then go home and live your life with our thanks. This idea of raising millions of dollars from special interests with deep pockets just so you can repay the favor in office is what is killing our democracy. This idea of leaving government or the military so that you can come back and buy politicians as a lobbiest is a direct insult to the idea that WE THE PEOPLE are who the people we elect are supposed to serve. Yes, these career politicians who haven't had to balance their checkbooks or face the ruin of ill health like the rest of us are so removed from the reality of living in America that it's no wonder they seem to be so clueless as to what effect their actions have on their constituants. In a world where George Bush actually thinks that history will treat him kindly, this is the bed we sleep in, and will do so, untill we decide to wake up, go to the polls, and in masse, vote "none of the above", sending a message loud and clear to Washington.

10/24/2006 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Whitesnake said...

Wonder what would happen if your country made voting compulsory?

I hear a lot of talk, but I see little action........

10/24/2006 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger graceonline said...

You made me laugh! Thank you.

Yes, I am certain George W, for example, believes that he really does care about democracy when he claims we must continue killing people in Iraq, and possibly go to war with Iran, so that the people remaining in those oil-rich countries--after we've beaten them to submission--will have freedom.

And yes, term limits could be a good thing.

But oh, for a system that rewards the people who know truth when they see it--and who speak it when they know it.

10/26/2006 01:49:00 AM  

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