Translation of Excerpts from Robert Heinlein's Book, Take Your Government Away - Part 3
Chapter 2. Where to start? - continued
The previous paragraph contains everything that is mentioned in this book. All other chapters tell you what you will learn if you do everything that is written in the previous paragraph.
So if you are now in a bookstore and have looked at a book to this place without having bought it yet, you may not have to buy it, remembering from the book only one paragraph - the one above and doing what is written there
On the other hand, if you buy this book, you can give it to your nonsense son-in-law who loves to talk about how bad the government is in our country, while doing nothing in order to somehow influence the state of things. Except in the election, he votes for the wrong candidate, crossing out your vote for the right candidate. Give him this book and tell him to either act or shut up.
At the same time, you can remind him that the future of his three children is determined by what decisions will be made by politicians, so his duty is to influence the adoption of these decisions instead of wasting time. And if he does not tear off his fat seat and does not engage in politics, but continues to rant on political topics, then you have every moral right to send him away. After all, you have long wanted this, haven't you? Now it can be done. As a politician, you will not lose anything, because your brother-in-law has always voted for the wrong party, if he went to vote at all. And you will get a discharge by expressing to him a long boiling point. After all, as a politician, you have to be polite with all visitors.
Tell him how dense and ignorant he is, that he understands nothing at all in politics, and that he treats his civic duty so irresponsibly that he should not express any opinion whatsoever about politics, if he certainly has this opinion , and so that he shut up and fell to play his bridge.
At that time, I will chuckle quietly aside: I also do not like whiners like your son-in-law.
You may not believe that getting into politics is as easy as I described. I will describe how I took up politics myself. It all started with the fact that I returned home after a long absence. My profession requires long trips, and this was the first time in many years when I was at home during the election campaign. I came to my party’s office on a nearby street and told a woman sitting there at the table: “I have a telephone, a car, and a typewriter. How can I help? ”
I was redirected to another office, a few miles from this - I was so ignorant that I did not know the boundaries of the districts when I came to the wrong office.
On the same day, to my utter surprise and confusion, I became responsible for working in the seven polling stations. Six weeks later, I became the director of the political club. And six months later, in my spare time from work, I published a political newspaper with a circulation of two million copies.
During the next election campaign, I was already a member of the district and state party committees, as well as the chairman of the party’s district branch. Shortly thereafter, I was appointed as the district party coordinator. Etc. You can develop in politics endlessly. The scope and importance of the work assigned to the volunteer is limited only by his efficiency and desire to take responsibility.
And this work always brings results. The organization of volunteers, in which I eventually became a member, was able to recall the mayor, dismiss the district prosecutor, replace the governor who didn’t suit us with another, who arranged for us, completely changing the political landscape in one of the largest states of America! And all this took only four years! Of course, I did all this not alone: in politics, nothing is ever done alone. But the group of people who did all this consisted of a very small number of disinterested volunteers, and almost all of them at the beginning, just like me, were completely unaware of politics.
Now I will tell you about Suzy. Together with her husband, this lovely woman volunteered for politics almost simultaneously with me. At this time, Susie was growing a baby, she put him in a basket from a supermarket, put the basket in the back seat of a family car and went to visit voters.
Over the next four years, Suzy: succeeded in replacing the chairman of the national party committee with the one that suited her; led to the election victory of the new congressman, and in no small part contributed to the election victory of our new governor. She crowned her political career by becoming one of the key participants in nominating a presidential candidate from one of our two main political parties. I will tell this fascinating story.
And all this time, every three years, Susie had a baby. When Suzy had a lot of children, she began to hire a nanny at the expense of party funds to look after the children during the election campaigns, although Suzy herself did not demand a cent from the party. For the rest of the time, Susie personally ran the household, cooked, and raised children. And when the Second World War began, she also began working on the night shift at an aircraft factory that produces bombers.
Of course, not all of us are as efficient as Suzy, but the main thing that is needed to be useful in politics is honesty, a willingness to do something and an unlimited faith in democracy.
I can tell many more stories about people like Suzy. Most of them are not rich, and quite busy, earning a living. Nevertheless, one of the most frequent excuses I heard from those who do not want to engage in politics is that they would be happy to help change something, but they are so busy working in the sweat of their faces to feed themselves and their family that for anything else they have no strength, no time, no money.
The German middle class believed the same, and this led to the rule of Hitler, who destroyed the middle class and led the country to defeat. So the next time you realize that you are becoming like the German inhabitants, think of Susie, with her four children. Or about Gus, who works every day, from 4 a.m. to noon, as a truck driver. In addition, he has a wife and two children. By taking time to sleep during the day and after midnight, Gus manages to devote some evenings to politics. In less than three years, he became chairman of the youth party organization and one of the most influential party politicians in his state.
What benefit did he get from this? Nothing but a sense of satisfaction from the knowledge that he made his staff a little better for his children to live in it.
Those who have maintained and continue to maintain our democracy are not big party bosses, not Washington politicians, and certainly not like your lazy, shrill son-in-law, but like Gus and Suzy.
As I said, the rest of this book is about what you will learn from your own experience when you begin to engage in politics. Everything else I write only in the hope of saving your precious time and saving you from disappointments. I think that you can act more efficiently and faster by learning from my experience, and not from your own mistakes. I hope also to help you overcome the gloom and frustration that every participant in the Great Game, called politics, is at times exposed to.
I would like to warn you about something else until you quit reading this book.
You go into politics, considering it as a service to your country and society, and not as a means of earning and an opportunity to get a post in the government. However, almost immediately you will be offered money for your work. You must refuse them. You will be offered money again and again, and sometimes a post in the government.
The day will come when you will be offered money for carrying out a campaign in support of the law or the candidate of which you already wholeheartedly support. This offer will come from your bosom friend, whom you consider a sincere patriot and an honest person. He will prove to you that any work should be paid, and you should not work for free. He sincerely wants you to get paid for your work, and besides, this will clarify your status in the party.
All that he says is the most complete truth, paying for your work is fair, you will earn money by honest work for an idea that you believe in. And it is even possible that just at that moment, you will need pocket money. What do you do?
Do not take the money!
The moment you get paid for your political work will almost certainly be the end of your party career. After that, money, your whole subsequent political life, you will be considered as small, or, at best, an average hired bastard at the beck and call of politicians of a regional scale. A volunteer politician does not need a lot of money to have influence in society, and he should not earn money on politics, even if this money is earned by honest work. If you take money, then you are an employee, and you never count with employees.
There is a bearded joke about a rich businessman who courted a young secular beauty. He offered her five thousand dollars so that she would stay for a week with his mistress. After some thought, the beauty agreed. Then the businessman proposed to reduce the fee to fifty dollars. “Who do you take me for?” The beauty cried out in indignation. The businessman parried, “We have already agreed on whom to take you for, the question is the price.”
Do not make the mistakes of this beauty. Although, sometimes there are still cases where the issue of price makes sense to discuss. If you have progressed to such an extent that you have been offered a party or government position at the state or country level that takes all your working time, and you understand that you must leave your business to work in this position, then discuss the issue of salary, unless of course you Sincerely confident that your job in this position is necessary, and you will cope with it better than anyone.
It is well known in political circles that salaries in state and party posts do not correspond to the talents and experience required for them, they are enough only for the holder of the post working for the benefit of society to eat. So with such an appointment, the question of salary is appropriate.
But don't be a hired six!
However, my advice does not give you the right to disdain the employees in your party. You will often deal with them, regardless of which party you are in.
Even in the most respected volunteer political movements, there are areas where professional politicians work, and in the most well-functioning organizations of political professionals there are volunteers working for free. At polling stations and party branches, you will find hired employees who are honest and conscientious and sincerely support the party they work for. And they usually work more than what their salary implies. Keep this in mind, and be careful about what you say to them, or about them behind them. Most of these employees are as sincerely rooting for your candidate’s victory as you are.
But you yourself will never become an employee if you want to influence the future of your country.
However, if you should not get paid for political work, and the remote possibility of paid work in a party or government position does not promise you a salary comparable to that which you could receive in your main job, then what benefit can you get from politics?
The reward for political work is intangible, but very pleasant for a truly mature person. Although, there are negative aspects of politics, which are easier to feel: some of your friends will begin to treat you with caution, and even with suspicion. Most people around you will be sure that you have taken up politics for the benefit, because this is the only reason they can imagine. They look like stowaways "hares" traveling for free, clinging to the tram. Although they themselves are not doing anything to make the government work the way it should work, they are sincerely convinced that the tram of politics moves only because of their kind deign, which gives them the right to caustic and illiterate criticism of the government in their kitchen.
When you go into politics, you will cease to communicate with some of your friends at all. You will suddenly find that those with whom you communicate, whom you invite to dinner, and with whom you play golf, you choose from among your colleagues in politics. This will happen because in them you will find much more virtues, intelligence and eloquence than among non-political inhabitants. You did not expect such a turn of events, but it will happen. You will start playing bridge less. Bridge is a good game, but compared to politics, it is boring and not so reckless.
Well, your brother-in-law will start to bypass you. This is definitely a win!
You will begin to feel a sense of warm satisfaction - each time you read the newspaper - from the fact that you begin to understand what is written in political editorials. The news, once so boring, will fill with life because you will understand what it means.
Even from the point of view of simple entertainment, politics is the most gambling game of all. All these horse races, gambling, football and boxing are shallow and trivial compared to the Great Game - an uninterrupted, always full of meaning, always fresh and full of surprises. To play it well, you will need all your mind, agility, knowledge and experience. The stakes in this game are the highest of all possible - the survival and future of all life on our planet. It depends on your skill whether we all will perish, or remain free, whether humanity will exist, or perish in the flame of an atomic fire. Because the decisive moment of choice has come, and no one but yourself will choose the right path for you in this maze.
And to top it all off, you will experience the greatest, and most importantly adult enjoyment - the realization that you have grown out of an infantile irresponsible life and finally entered into full ownership of your civil rights, taking full participation in the life of the country, in which they were born, or which they chose to live in, taking their part of adult responsibility for the future!