If you know anything about the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City, you know that it's famed for its always-entertaining Amateur Night. Performance hopefuls strut their stuff in front of a sometimes-friendly but always-moody audience that holds contestants' chances of winning the competition in the palms of its hands. Although there have been some talented individuals who have been able to launch successful careers from performances on the legendary stage, most do not, and many more find themselves being escorted from center stage by the Sandman (an iconic clown), summoned by the audience's boos. It is, after all, Amateur Night, and many contestants prove that they are just that: amateurs.
In November of last year, the Republicans took back the House in historic fashion. A new wave of fresh "contestants" stepped onto the political stage and strutted their stuff. Most of them, politically speaking, were amateurs. Many were voted into their elected positions by a wave of emotional, knee-jerk reactions by conservatives to not getting their way in the 2008 election and the health care debate, and because President Obama's existence seemingly drives them batty. People were "mad as hell" and they weren't "going to take it anymore." The "Don't Tread on Me" flags were hoisted high and waved violently. Armed protesters hurled insults, threats and obscenities at political leaders and took their rage directly to the polls. It was at that moment that the Tea Party movement transitioned from simply being the loud mouth in the room to being the new bully on the block. But one disturbing fact remains: they're amateurs.
Like the entertainment world, the political universe has been flooded by an overwhelming hoard of amateurs. They're easily identifiable by their complete lack of understanding of the roles they are pretending to play. Whether it's singing competitions that are plagued by lackluster karaoke rejects, chefs serving up slop for food, or models and drag queens stumbling down a runway, we are all bombarded by image after image of amateurs pretending to be professionals. What's lost on these slouches, and the idiots who vote for them, is the fact that it's not just a contestant's talent that brings professionalism; it is also the years of training and studying of one's craft. True professionals usually bring to the table years of toiling away at their respective careers, and with that comes the life experience earned from it. It is that experience that strengthens their understanding of the tasks at hand and fuels the level of enlightenment they have to achieve it.
Politics are no different. The Tea Party's new freshman class brings tremendous energy (which is talent, politically) to American politics. Honestly, I didn't expect them to become a prominent force in our national agenda, but let's face it, folks, they are. But with power comes great responsibility, and most amateurs haven't learned that -- yet. Professionals, through the process of becoming professionals, have learned this lesson. They understand the reality of the world they work within, and they understand their role, because that's what they do. They are professionals.
An amateur signs a bad deal. An amateur loses his shit when things don't go his way. An amateur leads with emotion over logic because he doesn't know any better, because he's not trained and conditioned with years of experience backing him. Amateurs don't "get it," because they haven't gotten it. They haven't received the benefits of adversity and challenges, so they haven't developed the mechanisms for using logic over emotions when hard times present themselves. Instead, we see horribly destructive behavior exhibit itself when amateurs meet challenges. We watch "contestants" treat each other with vile contempt. They scream, spit and sometimes physically attack each other in pursuit of their "prize." They are, at their core, amateurs.
The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is full of amateur politicians. They haven't been steeped in the experiences that accompany being a "professional" politician (not to be confused with career politicians). They haven't developed an understanding of being professional, which is an essential component to being a leader, amateur or not. Professionalism speaks for itself. It doesn't rely on emotions alone when it comes to decision making. Professionals are more professional than that. Amateurs take positions like "my way or the highway," which is about the most amateur position to hold, especially for government leaders, who, ultimately, are civil servants. Amateurs don't act with civility, and they aren't subservient to anyone; they're too emotional for that. To even behave as a professional nowadays is somehow construed as being weak and compromising.
The truth is, politics are all about being a professional. It's how things get done. It is an invaluable component. The only government leaders who aren't required to have it are kings and dictators of totalitarian states -- not exactly what America was intended to be. In fact, it is the polar opposite of our nation's design, and is, at it's best, amateurish. The Apollo Theater has a unique way of dealing with amateur talents who don't exhibit professional abilities: they are escorted off the stage by a clown and a chorus of boos. Perhaps the Sandman needs a first-class ticket to Washington. I, for one, will be more than happy to chip in.