Karl Douglass: Politics no game for faint of heart

November 24, 2013 

I have been involved with politics and politicians for a long time. Over countless campaigns dealing with a variety of candidates, one thing remains constant -- politics is a rough sport.

Politics is filled with winners and losers. It's filled with alliances and expectations. Anyone who doesn't accept these facts is destined to be disappointed by the process.

So, while I understand the calls for more civility in politics, I also understand the reality that makes such civility difficult to achieve.

When volunteers, operatives and donors spend months or even years pouring themselves into candidates in whom they believe, it's tough to reconcile a loss by that candidate. It is tough to look at the winner, the person against whom you have been campaigning so fiercely, and accept that he or she is now in charge. It's hard to accept the fact that the people who campaigned against your candidate are now poised to reap the benefits that come with access. It is difficult to accept that the voters really believed that the other guy was better than your guy.

Tougher still is watching the candidate in whom you have invested your time and energy win, then change.

Before you agreed to set up the first introduction, write the first check or make the first phone call, you talked to the candidate. You shared your ideas about what needed to be done after he or she was elected and the candidate agreed. You committed to the candidate because the candidate shared your beliefs. You worked for the candidate because you wanted to see those beliefs advanced by an elected official.

However, once elected, the candidate didn't advance what you agreed were your common beliefs. In fact, the candidate began advancing beliefs that were counter to what you discussed. Dealing with that is tougher than dealing with a loss. And it makes you mad.

Sometimes, it makes you so mad that you spend a lot of energy trying to "unelect" the candidate you just helped get elected. You point out the candidate's every flaw. You challenge the decisions he or she has made while in office. You even start looking for a candidate to run against the person you just supported in the last election.

Given the emotional investment involved, it is easy to understand why politics is often uncivil in spite of the constant calls for more civility in the process. As much as I and others may want to turn down the heat on the rhetoric for and against our elected officials, it is hard to overcome human nature. It is not impossible, but it is certainly hard.

Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.

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