off the bench

By: ewhite422

Jul 12 2010

Category: Uncategorized

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In the political game, I have sat “on the bench” for 14 years.  I sat down, or fell down, refusing to play in 1996, after I was a delegate to the National Republican Convention.  It scared the hell out of me.

There I was, blonde girl from Texas wearing the sequined Lone Star vest that all the delegates wore, feeling like a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, and being asked to vote on issues I had no idea about.  Like immigration and taxes.

I had gotten into the political process by working in some campaigns.  I helped elect George W. Bush as governor of Texas.  Later, I worked in Bob Dole’s campaign for president.  I was even on CNN, standing on the platform with Phil Graham, when he and Ralph Reed announced the Contract for the American Family.  I am sure my mother still has the picture of me in the background, behind Senator Graham, in USA TODAY.

At the San Diego convention,  a friend of mine and I were interviewed by Sam Donaldson about our pro-life stand.  It was all heady stuff.  But I realized that my one-issue involvement did not have answers for all the things that make a government run.

I felt overwhelmed.  I knew that I took things very seriously, and if I had not thought through all the issues, I was pretty sure the thousands of people I saw in that convention center had not thought them through either.

So I took myself out.  I stopped doing my daily radio talk show.  I ended a bad marriage.  And I made myself rethink things I had been so sure of.  Painful.

I have had nothing to do with politics since then, except voting.

Well, there was one time when I, and my whole department, were laid off from KBR because of their new focus on supporting the Gulf War, I was sent to an agency that helps you decide where to look for your next job.  We assessed our skills and our interests.  I was horrified when one of my peers, an engineer who had been laid off from another well known company, remarked, “You need to run for public office.”

“No!” I exclaimed, aghast. “I’m not mature enough for that.”

It may look easy to those who watch their favorite pundits criticizing this and mocking that.  But to really serve a constituency with integrity takes an enormous amount of courage and maturity.  It takes a huge toll on family and on oneself.

That is why I am slowly sticking a toe back into the process, supporting those who, unlike me, have the courage to serve.  I found myself at a phone bank for a candidate last Tuesday night.  I won’t say who it is.  I’ll just say that it’s time for me to get off the bench.

How about you?

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