I got into the legislation business only in order to tirelessly serve the good people of Kansas's 3rd District. But what do I get in return? Nothing but grief, cynicism, and snarky suspicion. People trash politicians every chance they get, all year long, until that one day they actually need one of us.
Then they sing a different tune.
Let me tell you: It's not all being wined and dined by lobbyists and joking around with my pals on the floor, you know. It's long hours and hard work. But whenever I go home and do a little fund-raising, all I hear is: "Shouldn't you be back in Washington earning your six-figure salary?" And you know whose in-box is filled with fawning e-mails the next morning when someone needs to get a last-minute clause attached to an appropriations bill before it gets out of the House Committee On Ways And Means? Mine. The "sleazy" politician's. That's right, me.
So go ahead. Beat up on the greasy-palmed politician. Crack your little one-liners with the town barber about how "Congress is the opposite of progress." But the next time you need a sign-off on some ordinance banning certain types of commercial uses of government-leased land, who are you going to come to asking for a feasibility study to get drafted within the next 18 months?
Bet I won't be such a stuffed-shirt pig-in-a-trough then, will I?
I thought I had it bad when I was a lawyer. I heard all kinds of jokes about hanging lawyers and drowning lawyers. But when people tell lawyer jokes, they're only jokes. When people talk about politicians, there's no punch line. It's just plain mean.
You think it's so easy, why don't you try building bipartisan support for minor legislation when you have to run for office every two years? Go find your own photo op shaking hands with the auto mechanic down the road?
But it's always the same old thing: "Look at the big Washington Fat Cat! Let's make fun of him! He's crooked and greedy and dumb! But wait—oh no, boo hoo, our precious swimming hole is getting rezoned as a federally funded toxic-waste dump site." Well, would you look at that! Full reverse pivot, out of nowhere. No more Mr. Donkey-in-a-suit anymore, no sir. Wait, what's this? Soft-money contributions? Aw, gee, thanks. How considerate of you, now that you have something to gain from me.
"Politicians talk and talk and talk because they just looooooooove the sound of their own voices." Oops—some asshole wants to build a chemical plant in a non-industrial area located in an old rail corridor? Ho, ho! Now I'm your new best friend, a man of honor, and a kindhearted do-gooder all wrapped into one neat little convenient package posing in a picture with you so you can put it on the mantelpiece at the Rotary Club and show everybody you're important enough to rub elbows with a real, live U.S. congressman.
Well guess what, Mr. and Mrs. Voter? I'm tired of it.
Next time you need to know when your stretch of interstate is going to be renamed, or whether your grandfather's house will ever be listed on the National Register Of Historic Places, take a second to stop and think about me. About how I feel when I pick up the phone any time, day or night, to hear about how you're concerned that the video games your kids are playing are making them act out in school and you want a new law requiring children under age 14 to bring signed permission from their parents when purchasing certain titles. Why don't you try asking me how my kids are? They're fine, thank you, and they can tell the difference between fake violence and stabbing a classmate with a math compass. Call me during business hours.
If you still think that I'm only in this to line my pockets, don't bother asking me for those fixed direct payments from the Freedom To Farm Act of 1996. And you can forget about getting me to speak at your PTA meeting about staying in school. I've got a lot of important resolutions to work on.
I swear, sometimes the electorate at large just makes me sick.