For the Record
I am not saying all politicians are crooks and puppets. This short story tries to dive into the mental change that one would have to go through in order to become a corrupt public servant. They have to be okay with trading their morals for a materialistic bliss. Be able to put the wants of few over the needs of many in order to indulge in a deadly sin. It’s a frightening state of mind to be in if you one day become aware that all you are is a distraction for the evils of the world. It’s the closest one can get to being a sociopath without physically killing someone. This is a short story for entertainment purposes only – not to start a debate.
Campaign Road Trip
I ran an honest campaign. I didn’t drag anyone through the mud and I actually listened to what the people wanted. They say they want change, but they don’t know from what or how. Catch them off guard and they won’t be able to explain why they are angry, or in support of, an issue and end up sounding like five year olds trying to explain a dream. I know what the people want; they want the news to stop scaring them, not worry about Wall Street taking their 401k’s, “terrorists” defeated, even though they are no longer sure who we are fighting and why, and they want to stop hearing stories about immigration so they can stop feeling guilty when they hire a Hispanic to do something they don’t want, or know, how to do.
The election is the easy part. Make one speech, and just change the name of the city you are in. One long road trip saying the same speech that someone crafted, not wrote, with just the right amount of buzz words. It makes it sound like I’m answering questions when in reality I am not saying anything at all. The hard part is coming up with the money to win, not run.
In the Beginning There was Ambition
“I’m not going to be like them.” I tell myself as I walk up the steps of the capitol building. Today is my first day as a senator. I am young enough to use slang words without sounding like a dad, but old enough to be one. I worked hard in school, did what was asked of me and never arrived late. I couldn’t wait to start doing my part in changing the country for the better. I’m going to do great things. When I walk into my new office I stare at my name on a gold plate at the edge of my desk. My heart races with excitement at the realization that my hard work is finally going to start bearing fruit.
Exposed to Infections
I have been a senator for a few months now and I am starting to learn the jargon and operations of this place. Every hand you shake comes with a favor, or an IOU, and every dinner ends with a deal. When civilians are not around you see them take off their mask and relieve who they truly are, people. Normal people with many imperfections like the rest of us. Frat boys riding on the past glory of their fathers or grandfathers, independent women trying to play the man’s game, ex-attorneys who couldn’t make it as a judge, or ex-military trying to provide steady work for their enlisted brothers. I am an outsider to them because I have not asked or taken a favor from anyone. I can feel their judgement when I walk the halls. Like a new kid in middle school with a foreign name.
Being outside the loop gives me a front row seat to how the game is played. They try to combine two issues and turn it into a “one or the other” situation. They laugh amongst each other as they watch the country tear itself apart debating the issue they created from two mistakes. It’s all an act to them. If we keep the debate going we don’t actually have to come up with a solution. Just keep throwing logs into the fire and never let the flames get low enough to see what we are doing.
The Darkness Begins to Set In
Being here can wear out your morals. Constantly being surrounded by greed and seeing FOR SALE signs on people’s backs. I try to stay moral, but every bill I try to pass gets shut down because I am not, “one of them.” Some nights I drive home and question why I even bother going to work the next day, I’m powerless.
Then one day my mind goes dark. I see how the system works and its ugly truth sinks my heart down to my feet. I could leave but then it dawns on me – I do have power. My decisions have an impact on millions of people. I am a god, a king, a supreme being, in my own way for I have the power to make people suffer, or bring joy, by signing a piece of paper. This sense of power is overwhelming as I sit in my desk staring a bill I was about to propose. Things are going to be different from now on…
Into the Depths of Greed
A man in a suit comes into my office carrying a briefcase. He tells me that he wishes to speak to me about a sensitive issue. The meeting turns into a sales pitch and I’m the product. He is trying to sell me to myself. He opens the briefcase and I see stacks of tax free income in front of me. “One deal couldn’t hurt”, I thought. I can always make up for it on something else, something to benefit the community. It will even out. Checks and balances.
With one motion I sell my soul to him and curl up in his pocket. I am now part of the club, much to my co-worker’s delight. Now my inbox consists of invites to CEO yacht parties, top dollar fundraisers, and appointments to make more deals. They all need me because I have the power their money cannot buy, unless they buy me first. I am the missing link they are willing to pour money into in order to fuel their greed addiction. My ego grows in parallel with my off shore accounts.
One of Them
Everyday the word “enough” gets washed away from my vocabulary. I do not recognize myself when I stare into the mirror, but a voice inside tells me that I am not the bad guy. I am just one man trying to survive and find a way to live comfortably. The oil companies are polluting the earth, not me, I am not shooting at our troops hoping for their death, that’s the enemy – I’m just a man trying to make a living. With each briefcase I take I feel a part of my soul vanishing, but I cheer myself up with a new watch and a suit to hide my inner disgust.
I wouldn’t feel as bad if it wasn’t so easy. The public will believe anything if the media talks about it long enough. The media is a business, just like us. It’s all a game we play to keep the money flowing in the directions we want. Fear is our greatest weapon.
Too Late to Turn Back
It’s been 20 years since my first day as I walk up the same steps, only a little slower now. The man that first started has been dead for years, but the memory of him still haunts me on certain nights when I am alone with Johnny Walker. It is too late to turn back now, even if I wanted to. The only way out is up and my craving for “more” has found a new target, a big white house. Ultimate power is within my reach, but I feel the weight of the favors I owe on my shoulders like a wet coat. Alcohol allows me to drown the dark reality of my live. I am a puppet – all my ideas of having power were long sold off for pennies on the dollar. I only represent the idea of power. I put myself before my country, before millions of people, just so I could have a coin in my pocket. The pain of this realization doesn’t go away no matter how much whiskey I pour into it.
The shame is excruciating and I can no longer bare it, but I cannot quit for I am a slave with a debt to pay. As I finish the last drop in the bottle I look up to see my old hunting rifle. I take the rifle and study it in my hands. This honest piece of steel and wood has never given up on its purpose in life. It was built to do one thing and one thing only, and now it was going to be the solution to all my problems. “I’m not going to be like them”, Is the last thought that pops into my head before the bullet runs through it.