Thursday, March 01, 2007

I am NOT political...

Yesterday I spent the day at our State Capital in Austin. I was part of a contingent of about 45 men and women sent by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce to "Victoria Day at the Capital."

Our task was to visit the offices of every single state senator and state representative handing out gifts (mementos of Victoria) and invitations to a reception that evening at the Austin Club.

Why me, you ask? Good question! The Chamber had requested a member of the local Workforce Development Board to go along, and I foolishly volunteered. I mean, how bad could it be, right? One day in the capital, listen to some briefings by people like our state comptroller, education commissioners, Department of Transportation (TXDOT) representative, etc., see the legislature in session, and have free food and drinks for 2 hours in the evening. Sounded OK.

And I could tell that some of the group were right in their element. They seemed to really "get off" on rubbing elbows with the power people (elected folks and their staff members), showing innocents like me around the buildings and offices, shaking hands and slapping backs, smiling and talking at the speed of an auctioneer the whole time.

I essentially did what I was asked to do, and otherwise just watched all the activity.

The entire capital area was awash with people. Many, like us, had large brightly-colored identity tags. It wasn't their names that were prominently displayed, but rather their organization.

Planned Parenthood was there. The Texas Association of Builders was there. The Texas Association of Interior Design was there. And literally dozens more groups. They came by the busload. Oh, and so did thousands of school kids.

All of these people and groups (except maybe the school kids) had an agenda, and were trying to get their voice heard regarding their agenda. At several of the legislator's offices I had to stand in line behind other groups as they made their pitch to the staffers in the office.

Why to the staffer? Because the representative or senator was out on the floor of the chamber, in session! The staffers were polite, listened, nodded, made vague noises about being sure that their boss got the message, and turned to the next group or person. That apparently went on ALL DAY LONG!

When my turn came, I told them I didn't have an agenda or a message, other than, "Come to our reception tonight if you can. The whole office is invited, including YOU." A few actually showed up!

One staffer told me at the reception that he could eat and drink free every night the legislature was in session if he wanted to, as there were receptions like ours every single working day!

Did we accomplish anything? I doubt it. Did we spend a bunch of money that various business and companies put up to sponsor all of this? You bet we did.

Was it fun?

Well, I told my Administrative assistant in the office this morning that if, two years from now (the next time our state legislature will be in session), I even mention that I might go again, to please SLAP ME IN THE FACE! It seemed to be fun for some, but...

I told you, I am NOT political!


kenju said...

John, you and I are alike in that respect. Political functions seem to be full of people who are looking to see what you can do for them. If they find out you are not able to do much, they drop you like a hot potato. So hypocritical!

r.e.wolf said...

I never would have made it. The political game makes me feel violently ill.

Christina said...

sounds boring as hell.

schnoodlepooh said...

slap! slap! slap! I don't think I would like that either. Mostly I feel sorry for those staffers who have to listen to that stuff all day long, day after day. Is it possible that they actually like that? You can slap me too. It sounds like an interesting experience for One Time Only.

Monica said...

Unfortunately, it's how the situation is devised. The only time they are interested in talking to their constituents is when it's time to vote.

I'm told I may be going down to Austin soon. I'm not looking forward to it. Yes, I have an agenda. But I'm still not looking forward to it.

But I will if I have to.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Schnoodlepooh: Thanks, Peg! I needed that! My impression was that the staffers "managed" it, but didn't necessarily like it. For many of them it's just a job like any other, and they do it. It's a low-paying job though, so maybe the perks of free food and drink several nights a week make up for the lack of money. Either that or THEY like the feeing of power from being close to all that "action." (Shiver.) Yuck!

Monica: I'm not sure they're REALLY interested in talking to their constituents even then. They just smile and ACT interested. (Boy, I AM cynical aren't I?) But I think Kenju nailed it (above) with her "hypocritical" comment.

Christina: You DEFINITELY nailed it with YOUR observation!


Badabing said...

I'm glad you made it through. I abhor politics and politicians. While I realize that not all politicians are corrupt, the ones that are make the other 10 percent look bad. :-)

Duke_of_Earle said...

Uh... Badabing? I think you put an unnecessary zero after that "1."