Seven years ago today I left politics, a career that started when I was 18 years old in the summer of 1981 as the volunteer director for Jack Watson, a candidate for the Governor of Georgia.
For more than 20 years I served many candidates in many positions, from the state house to the White House. The one commonality among all the candidates I chose to support was their long term vision and plans. None of them was looking for the immediate gratification answers. They looked ahead ten, twenty, fifty years to grapple with how to best lay the ground work for where we as a nation needed to be then.
How would the 21st century economy be different, what would be required of our military, our intelligence, what would be the new vital industries, how would we be effecting our environment, our water, air, food supply, how could we become energy independent, what would the challenges be in the year 2000, what would be the threats?
Just by asking the questions, the candidates I worked for looked beyond the politics of that moment and the easy platitudes that accompanied the perpetual campaign. I was proud to be a "flack, an op" or the other pejoratives that now accompany my old profession. I am still proud of the candidates I worked for and their battles in office and out to persuade other elected officials to plan long term.
On September 11, 2001 a knot formed in my stomach and remains there today. I know the candidates I worked hard for and believed in could, did and would make a difference if they were in office. I know the candidates I did not work for could, did and would make a difference now they are in office. However, the saddest part to me and why I knew I could no longer participate in my chosen career is that I also know that candidates I didn't work for, but did support also could, did and would make a difference. I was angry and so disappointed in the careless way they had thrown away twenty years of opportunity that would have PREVENTED what happened that day.
In the following seven years I continue to be angry and disappointed at what has followed. I am glad of my decision to leave the profession but I still look back.
In the subsequent years I joined the the corporate side of politics working on NIMBY issues which drove my interest in returning to my home and my looking inward to my own life and community. As I became more involved in my neighborhood I noticed a troubling trend of denigration towards Oshkosh's downtown communities. Our homes, schools and businesses were/are treated as less than.
This was a natural progression to my becoming a Realtor, a promoter of our downtown, our neighborhoods and our beautiful older homes.
There is still a knot in my stomach and it has a name, Osama Bin Laden. I still ask where is he and why has he not be caught? There is no excuse.
Polly Briley, RE/MAX VALLEY, REALTORS®, OshkoshNeighborhoods.com