Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Best Kind of Politician

My friend M had an interesting perspective on elections the other day. I'm paraphrasing (aka too lazy to go back and look at the actual quote), but her contention was that when a television ad says "I'm not a politician, just a humble accountant who wants to be your mayor," that ad is hooey. A person who runs for office is by definition a politician, she said, and the politician role becomes primary, trumping the farmer or accountant or stay-at-home role.

Later she clarified to me that she was referring to persons running for full-time political office, but because M almost always makes me think, I thought. You see, today is election day in Small Town and Husband is on the ballot.

I've mentioned before that at this moment the political climate in Kansas is...well, I don't know what word would be appropriate to describe the political climate in Kansas. Unprecedented? Unpredictable? Fascinating? Wackadoodle? Yup, all of those, and more. In Kansas politics, up is down and cold is hot and nothing is as it seems or as it was.

The result has been that public schools are taking an absolute shellacking. State funding has been cut drastically and demands are being put on schools/teachers/students that boggle the mind.

Husband first ran for the school board when the Boys were in high school. He's an accountant and understands the money side of the education equation as well as a father who was in the thick of the education side of that equation, so it was a public service he felt qualified to perform.

He discovered that public education is excruciatingly complicated. There are the regulations, federal and state, that must be met. There is infrastructure and technology that must be keep current and functioning. There are teachers and staff, who want to do their jobs but often feel underappreciated and underpaid. There are parents, who want the best for their students but whose involvement and expectations vary wildly.

How are all these factors knit together in the best interest of the top priority of every school--the education of its students? And how is this done with resources that shrink, rather than grow, every year?

It's like knitting all right, but you have to change the size of the needles every 10 stitches and work with 17 balls of yarn that are being thrown at you by monkeys.

Husband is so, so good at this. He does his homework. He reads the budgets and understands the numbers. He not only keeps up to date on what the government is requiring, he visits classrooms and talks with teachers. He is attentive to parents and students. He internalizes what experts are telling him about educational research.

He listens. He thinks. And then he makes the hard decisions, casts the tough votes. Recently those votes have been even more excruciating because they affect the livelihoods of people we love and see every day in the streets of Small Town.

I don't know how the election will come out today. It could be that some of these tough votes will have been so painful to the electorate that they will decide all incumbents should be voted out. I hope this doesn't happen.

But whatever happens, I'm proud of my husband. He is the kind of politician the world needs.


  1. I think there's a difference between a politician and an elected official. A politician is one who does his/her job based on what the voters have/will/could say or want or holler about. An elected official is elected to office and does the job based on what is best for the job - the people served, the budget, the law requirements, etc. Sounds like the hubs is an elected official to me.

    1. I absolutely agree with this. M called this kind of elected officials "super-volunteers" because they run out of a desire to serve, and serve sacrificially.

  2. I sure wish we had more politicians who did as your husband does. I wish we had more politicians who actually understood how complex certain systems are before spouting soundbites that make no sense for the actual complex system they'll be working in. Good luck to him :-)

    1. Cassi, that is so true. Layers on layers on layers.