There are some relationships that grow too complex, too intense to maintain. Cruelty and competition edge out the trust and passion. Political life, while it remains very similar to an average American life, is markedly different. Often in ways that matters most, affecting places in our hearts where we sustain our relationships.
Read a newspaper, the negative ads are a metaphor for the perils of politics. Behind the stories you read, the six-minute segments of spin on CNN or Fox News or MSNBC, are men and women with private lives.
This life is different. Our mistakes end up on A4, not in the entertainment section. When a politico fails, it is news. Hollywood & Music industry celerities are held to much lower standards, and however tragic – they make a lot of money from publicizing their frailties. News wires are littered with career-ending stories of elected officials or opinion makers in men’s restrooms, prostitutes from New Orleans, instant messages with underage pages, mistresses on boats, racist remarks, bribery, malfeasance, and many other nightmare scenarios affecting the American taxpayer.
Behind these stories are marriages, love affairs, friendships – and choices – where personal happiness is sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, or more often – political ambition. Many a politico has made the mistake of asking a lover to wait. Just until the next election – then everything will “calm down.”
When we choose love, over politics, it is a decision that often coincides with a career change. Or the rare promotion significant enough to allow room for a fulfilling personal life. The thing about politics, is the higher you ascend – the more access you have. The more hours youwork, the more time you want to invest in that access. The more access, the higher the profile. It comes with perks of travel and notoriety. And the crushing responsibility of making history – not just news.
Caring for love requires a devotion that exceeds the inhuman level of ambition necessary to succeed in politics. Many a great man and woman have broken themselves against these rocky shores. Marriages end. “Great” loves walk away from each other. Because for love to win, it must be epic to exceed the adrenaline rush from having a White House clearance.
Politics is about access and information. Trading secrets and the ever-elusive “internal” poll numbers. A presidential career for one man, is a journey shared, at most, by a dozen other people. Men and women, who are able to peer around the next corner of history. People who sense what the Republic needs, then fashion a candidate into the leader of the free world. A lover must be very skilled, and very devoted, to divert attention away from such heady acts. Love must be accompanied by ferocity, free of encumbrance, and be made of something far stronger than steel.
The painful stories of men who failed, Vitter – Craig – Hart – Foley – Abramoff, are very public. But there are an infinite number of stories wherechoices were made, that never go public. To not destroy a marriage. To place a career ahead of drama.
Politics is a most cynical master. And she plays on fear, ambition, suspicion, fear, and imbibes her lovers with power, privilege, and public adoration.
The men who choose to maintain their marriage, because it is safe and comfortable – even if it is passion-free, possess a level of character so impressive, they are like mythic lovers in a long forgotten Greek tragedy. There are women who have a breathtaking, poignant life story and rather than risk more pain, they choose the Constitution and history books as a great love.
There is a persistent melancholy beneath the bravado, a sense of regret among some. For others, there is a sense of freedom – a life lived to the fullest extent of ability and passion. What is true for all of us, in political life – is painfully omnipresent.
Every person dreams at one point of love and success. In politics, the men and women are no different. Sometimes, we find serenity. A great love walks in, restores our faith. In such moments, we allow another to take our spot… leaving the wheel of the Republic to others. Trusting they will make their own mistakes, their own decisions, cut a path to truth for the next generation.
America is a powerful, but fickle, lover. To leave her, we must abandon regret and replace it with forgiveness. The truest love is found someplace else… in the eyes and heart of someone who understands the political life and loves us anyway. Love is in the arms of a kindred spirit, where boundaries and expectations and baggage, are set aside in favor of tangible intimacy and appreciation for the world away from politics. Surrendering to desire, and the need for private exploration is at once wide open and all consuming.
Love is a leap of faith. And passion is the fuel that carries us to the precipice.
— Media Lizzy