Saturday, December 09, 2006

Historical-Emotional Baggage

There is an internal debate going on in my mind as of late. The basic issue is whether ignorance is bliss or if knowledge is power. This relates to external relationships with Mr. Peña and the rest of the office. I'm sure other new staffers may have considered this question.

On the one hand, I am beginning to think that I would rather NOT know about the history between The Rep. and other people so that I can establish my own rapport with others independently of whatever good or bad experiences there may have been in the past. My reasoning is that perhaps I can establish relationships where there aren't any. My mind would not be tainted with prejudices prior to dealing with people. A fresh start.

On the other side, I have to consider that some people may be harmful to the team. If this job had less to do with politics, this would not be an issue so much. However, since I will be right smack in the middle of political machinations, I may have encounters that are deliberately meant to gain information from me, plant information through me, or even cause me to embarrass the team. In this case, foreknowledge would be useful.

What should I do? I have an obligation to my co-workers to be aware of unfriendlies. On the other hand, we would benefit from building untainted connections with others. What would you do in this situation?


David A. Diaz said...

Hello, Shaine,

Welcome to politics, and kudos to you for having the courage to publicly admit this predicament. There are no easier answers, just hard ones.

My advice is to look at your job this way: you are a political soldier, and given your expertise with the internet, you will probably be asked to become a political assassin on more than one occassion. As the saying goes, "You ain't playing tiddlewinks, buddy."

Whether you like it or not, Aaron's rivals and enemies are yours as well, and they will try to manipulate and exploit you every chance they get.
Now, that doesn't mean that you should treat them with disrespect, because that will reflect poorly on you. Be polite and helpful to them, because you never know who they are related to, and voters who are snubbed always have long memories.

Your colleagues on your staff also have their detractors, too, so you have to stand for them as well. Not backing up your team will get you a terrible reputation in politics, not to mention cause interoffice squabbles that aren't worth the headache and heartache.

A major issue for you will be when you disagree with Aaron about his legislative package or votes. You must share your perspectives with him because he won't benefit if he is surrounded by Yes-Men and Yes-Women. As long as you don't get involved in his personal life, he will appreciate your divergent views, as long as they are in private with him, and not in public,

The hardest thing you are going to face, particularly now in this new age of internet blogging, is the personal attacks that are going to be launched against you. You have been elevated to a privileged class, working in the Texas Legislature. That means you have political power far beyond most Texans because, with the whim of an idea, you can change state policy or create new law. And you have attained that power without spending a dime for an election or answering to anyone except to Aaron.

I hope these observations give you some more perspectives. I am sure there are many others out there more experience or wiser than me that can, and hopefully, will share their insights with you.

But I have walked in your shoes before, and I know what your are about to encounter. It's gonna be hard, but anything worth getting always comes at a price.

Continued good luck to you.

David A. Diaz

Shaine Mata said...

I appreciate you understanding the situation. I appreciate your experience as a former legislative aide. I only have one point of disagreement. I've been broke long enough that it doesn't scare me. If the time comes that the Rep. asks me to politically assassinate somebody, I'm out of there without looking back. I am intolerant of dirty politics in others and refuse to be a party to the same. Thus far, my team has been VERY conscious about the ethics behind their actions, even before they act. I believe dirty politics won't be required of me, nor will I be a party to them. I'm not a political soldier, I'm a State employee with a focus on the Rep's district.

Since dirty-work is not an issue, my internal debate is still the same. Clean slate, or baggage?