When the Personal Merges with the Political:
For me to write explicitly here on OS about what has lately been dubbed as being “The Tuscon Tragedy” by some media outlets, in terms of rationalizing what happened, or what might subsequently unfold as a consequence, would be being purely speculative on my part, as well as proving to not be particularly insightful, credible, headlining or noteworthy. For one, I’m officially not an American, and for another, I don’t consider myself to be right-wing, left-wing or anything of that outspoken, activist sort of a nature. As a card-carrying, human being, I am suitably appalled, however not too shockingly surprised by what I’ve seen communicated from various ‘angles’ and forums-both during the past 24 hours, and throughout more recent history. I’ve long maintained, as a personal opinion and observation, that for ‘some’ Americans as a collective society, introspection in the aftermath of tragedy is not one of their strongest qualities. Overlaying that seems to be a deeply ingrained sense of ‘entitlement’ that is quite unrivalled and which is particularly, strikingly unique to this country. But, that’s a can of proverbial worms that I’d rather not be prying open with an opinionated stick, right now. After all, I still have to live here in relative harmony, too, just like everyone else.
However, from a personal perspective, I can speak to this much based on my lived experience:
As the cascade of evolving events in Tuscon gained almost thunderous avalanche proportions within various media circles throughout the day, yesterday, my mind naturally cast me back to when I worked for nearly five years as an unpaid advisor to a nationally-elected politician. A gay politician elected to serve in a deeply conservative, central city electorate. This politician championed, wrote (and later had passed) Federal-level legislation which was not always popular, and which was invariably morally divisive, including, on the legalization of same-sex civil unions and the nationwide legalization of prostitution.
It would have been incredibly naïve on my part, even being on the very periphery of what was happening as I was, to not have understood that security at the constituency level was an ongoing and sometimes really immediate concern. Very quickly, I gained an appreciation of just how rapidly one person or event could instantly transform the tone or nature of any political encounter, in any given venue, of whatever agenda (stated or otherwise). Juxtaposed alongside this were the well-worn clichés that 24 hours was a short time in terms of media and political shelf life and that, like it or not, the personal definitely was the political.
Amongst my family and friends, it was implied that not everyone liked or appreciated that I was working for this particular politician. I don’t think that they cared that much for the reputation by association aspect of exactly who I was working alongside. Yet, they respected that my work itself was important towards honoring something that was wider and of greater consequence than just being about me, professionally. Those closest to me, rarely asked about the exact nature of what I did, and I almost never bothered to tell or to share any details of my role, with them. Very rarely, people whom I didn’t know well, tried in vain to goad me into inadvertently disclosing some sort of inside knowledge or a tidbit of gossip. In a much smaller nation, discretion is the first and perhaps most important, unspoken law of political diplomacy and security. Yes, there were threats made- which were dealt with. Yes, there was hate mail -intended for the politician (including a castration kit, complete with instructions for its use). Yes, there were incidents. That said there’s little doubt in my own mind, that if we’d paused for a single moment to become even temporarily paralyzed by every real or imagined security breach, very little else would have gotten accomplished.
In the aftermath of any turmoil or tragedy, the most important grasp we can embrace and maintain is that of perspective. In politics, as in life, as Roosevelt once observed, "You have got to have the same interest in public affairs as private affairs, or you cannot keep this country what this country should be".