I love ragging on politicians as much as the next guy. Just read this, or this or this. What better way to make fun of these womanizing, attention-whoring elected officials than mocking how often they flip-flop on their views and give up moral high ground in favor of bettering their poll numbers and being written about? When politicians disregard the very platforms we elect them on right before our eyes, it is almost impossible to avoid becoming disenchanted. And I didn't have the slightest ounce of sympathy for these disgraceful "servants of the people." Until yesterday.
I have been interning at the Huffington Post for the past two weeks, and it's been an incredible experience. I've learned countless ways to write articles, listened to really interesting conversations, and researched topics I would have never gotten into otherwise. So when the editors and I talked about doing a feature on things parents don't understand about teens, I decided to write it. I asked around, took note of my friends' suggestions, and compiled them into a blog post. Although I felt the blog post could be valuable to readers and could potentially be popular, I got queezy about publishing it for a few reasons. First, my parents understood almost all of the things I claimed parents just don't understand (they've been listening to Howard Stern and cursing in front of me for years). Second, that kind of pop-up article isn't what I generally write or read, and I feared the piece could put a damper in whatever journalistic credibility I had. So, I contemplated taking my name off of the post, but ultimately, the allure of the possibility that the piece would go viral (along with my favorite Herm Edwards quote) overpowered all of my inhibitions and led me to publish the piece with my name attached to it regardless of whether or not I felt aligned with the views it expressed. Once it was published, I had prepared an email I was going to send to the editors asking them to take my name off of the article anyway. But then I saw the piece starting to get read by lots of people, I heard that the great Lisa Belkin was writing a rebuttal, I saw it on the cover of the Huffpost Teen page and I just couldn't will myself to press send. And unlike many of the rest of my pieces, where I feel passionately about defending my article to any and all commentors who disagree with my points, I nodded along to comments by parents claiming they did not fit the bill I described (even though, by virtue of the fact that they spend their time publicly defending their parenting style on a teen's intentionally hyperbolic article, they have proven to not understand way more than the 10 things I laid out... but I digress), and laughed hysterically as I read Lisa's rebuttal (even though I have to admit that I vomited a little in my mouth reading her rebuttal to #9).
With the egotistical decision to put my name on that piece, I better understood why so many adults and politicians make political compromises: Their self-interest overpowers their emotional instincts. Politicians wouldn't make morally shaky decisions for the sake of making morally shaky decisions. They're politicans! They make their livings by appealing to the masses. They have no reason to intentionally present themselves as immoral, unprincipled citizens. Like how I told myself that the attention my piece could get nullified any negative impact it had on my psyche, politicians must tell themselves that compromising their integrity in favor of votes is a compromise worth making. Even though I still don't think politicians should take money from Super PACS after denouncing the very constitutionality of them or cheat on their wives after trying to impeach President Clinton for doing just that (and I definitely don't think I should publish pieces purely for the sake of getting hits), yesterday's experiences have given me some degree of sympathy for these overly-compromising, womanizing attention-whores. I do not have sympathy, however, for parents who hand their kids the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition (and yes, that one was based on a true story). Ew.
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