I am writing this before the election results are in. And I'm going to say something very strange: Three cheers for everyone who ran for political office this year, from the presidential candidates down to those who tried to get elected to the school boards!
While the majority of us sat on the sidelines booing, cheering and eating popcorn, a few brave men and women decided to put their reputations on the line, open up their private lives, humiliate themselves by begging for money and support, and compromise their ideals to serve the public in some political capacity.
Some did it for glory, some for power, and some because they believed they could change the system. Few, if any of them, whether they win or lose, will be the same people they were before they got into the race.
Selfridge is one of them. I stopped in to see him a few days ago. He looked 20 years older than when I had seen him before the decided to run for political office.
"Where's your wife?" I asked him.
"I think she left. I haven't seen her around for days. She said she couldn't keep smiling anymore no matter how many votes it would get me. I guess politics isn't her bag."
Selfridge took a swig from a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.
"You have stomach trouble?" I asked.
"I've eaten every ethnic food known to man, not to mention attending four hotel banquets a day. I think it got to my stomach."
"It's been a rough campaign?"
"You could say that. My opponent revealed my brother was in a mental hospital, my kid has been booked on pot charges, my sister once had an abortion, and my law partners were defending a murderer. He also said I was a crook, and there was some question whether my parents were married at the time I was born."
"What's that big lump on your head?"
"Some television reporter tried to stick a microphone down my throat and hit me in the head instead. The media have been good to me. They called me up at all hours of the day and night wanting to know when I beat my wife."
"I guess you lose your privacy when you decide to run for public office."
"I believe you do. Everyone now knows how much money I have in the bank, how many outstanding debts I have and how much income tax I paid last year. My life is an open book."
As we were talking some men were carrying furniture out the door.
"What's going on?"
"My printer attached my furniture because I couldn't pay the bill. We ran out of money three weeks ago. I think the advertising agency is going to take the car this afternoon."
"Let me ask you a question, Selfridge. Why did you do it?"
"I've been asking myself the same questions for months. All my friends talked me into it. They said the country needed me and it was my duty to serve the people."
"Do you think they were serious?"
"I don't know. I haven't heard from any of them since the polls showed I was going to lose."
"Well, I don't care about anybody else. I want you to know that I admire you for getting into the fray. There aren't many people in this country willing to put up with what you have to represent your fellow men. I'll call you after the election." "You can't."
"The telephone company is taking the phone out. I owe them $2,000 and they want their money today."