Having been on this job for about five weeks now, I feel that I have had enough time to gather my thoughts and do some preliminary reflection on what it all means. And as usual, my conclusion is inconclusive.
There are certain aspects of my job which I really like, and others which I feel alienated from. First, the parts I like. As an ex-political science major, the inner workings of the political system fascinates me, and to be able to see how all the shit goes down from the front-row has been an eye-opening experience. As an avid student of politics, I feel like this job has taught me a lot, things which I could not have acquired in college.
But the part which I don’t like is also inherently part of the job which I do like: in seeing how the system functions first-hand, I’ve come to be even less hopeful about any real institutional change. Sure, it’s fascinating to watch how the various players deftly interact, manuever around, and manipulate the institution, but such a fascination is purely technical: it has the same appeal for me as watching the making of an intricate gadget. But on a normative level, I often find myself horrified at the process, and the normative is not something which I can so easily disavow. Yes, a part of me realizes that politics isn’t a gentle game, that some blood would have to be spilt, some rules bent, some morals skirted around, but the ethical philosophy student part of me is repulsed by some of the stuff I’ve seen.
Yes, the machine is intricate, its workings oblique to the public, its process a byzantine labyrinth, and watching it all goes down holds incredible interest for me. But as a career? I don’t think I can fully immerse myself in the belly of the beast.
I’d rather go back to grad school, read my papers and academic journals, teach, perhaps write a half-forgotten academic treatise on some obscure topic, and spend my life with someone I love and call it a day. But as much as I miss school right now, once I go back, I will probably miss my current life: the excitement of watching something unfold right in front of your eyes, the rumors and word on the streets, the evisceration of some hapless witness at a committee hearing.
Like Marlo said: The game is the game. Always.