Friday, July 18, 2008

The Difference Four Years Makes

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Although the candidates have been campaigning for what seems like forever, you know it is officially campaign season when there is a Jib Jab video.

I cannot believe that it has been four years since the inaugural Jib Jab video, and how much has changed since then. Even though this race is so much more interesting than 2004, I am far less "into it." Friends are going to conventions, volunteering for campaigns, and attending fundraisers. Part of me misses it, part of me just shrugs. Eh.

Some of it is political fatigue from being so politically involved for four years of college, as well as being a spectator for a very long primary season this time around. Always being on the losing team did not help either. However, I think having the opportunity to step back from the political world, do other things, and make many more friends who are not politically entrenched gave me a little perspective.

I still think that governance is extremely important and I could see myself working for government. Everyday, I review laws written by legislators (translate: staff) that dramatically and directly influences the lives of millions. And I know that that you need campaigns and politicking to put good people into important decision making roles. But the millions spent on campaigning, the ridiculous non-issues people focus on, broken promises . . . the whole electoral process seems so wasteful and futile sometimes.

Constrastingly, I have discovered more fulfillment and "instant gratification" from the law, which I know is completely selfish on my part. The law may have just as bad a reputation as politics, but I feel like as one person I can make much more a difference in a person's life. The cases I analyze and briefs I help write will determine whether my client keeps thousands of dollars for textbooks or retains custody of their child. Contrastingly, in politics I wrote op-eds or raised money or registered voters hoping that it would help get my candidate elected, hoping they would enact policies that are good. A lot of doing and then hoping.

This post was not meant to come off as long or disillusioned as it probably did. I am honestly thrilled about my candidate, read about politics daily, and commend my friends who are doing thankless political jobs. And perhaps in the future I will find balance of needing to fulfill my own desire to have a direct influence on people's lives with the "greater good" by working as a lawyer and volunteering in politics. But for now, I am just thinking aloud and finally realizing why I am not as excited or eager to jump on a campaign as I thought I would be.

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