Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Reality of Politics

In my life I'd been a reporter for UPI covering presidential candidates. But it was in my role as vice president for state University that I got to see politics as it may frequently operate. At our university we had the support of a Democratic congressman who was the chairman of a very powerful House committee. He was a pleasant man who at one time had been the youngest mayor in the United States. He'd been lieutenant governor of California and a polished politician. Unfortunately, although he was still chair of a powerful House committee, he had Alzheimer's.

His wife was very brilliant and she moved through his congressional area in a Rolls making sure his constituents were taken care of. She was the ultimate boss of the entire operation. I liked her and believe she had the best interests of his constituency at heart.

I once spent some time with the Congressman in his Washington office. Everybody was keeping  an eye on me because they didn't want me to talk him into something for the University that might not be in their best interest. We were sitting there and he was talking about the high point of his life when he had been a motorcycle courier for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. He was well spoken  and I enjoyed listening. All of a sudden his Chief of Staff walked over and said "Look you've gotta go down on the floor and vote like I told you to. Remember how I told you to vote?"

After that incident, I I've always wondered how often that occurs in our democracy. A couple of years later they took the committee chairmanship away from him. He was still in Congress but everyone made sure he was not causing any trouble. Since Avalon, the island off California, was in his district they kept him there with folks knowing t they should take care of him. One day he somehow got on the ferry to the mainland and they had to hunt all over until they found him.

American politics frequently involves situations of which we have no knowledge. I frequently question what I'm told  unless it's in the New York Times.

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