As it turns out, I’m a college English teacher. Now while David Horowitz might try to lead folks to believe that college humanities professors live lavish and luxurious lives living on the labors of the populace and doing no work ourselves, that’s actually not true. As a grad student at least, I can’t remember the last time I slept more than six hours in an average night, and when I was an adjunct, the same held. College teaching, while not often demanding on the bones and muscles, requires a different sort of endurance– stacks of exams and papers, not to mention committee meetings and lesson planning and meeting with students, take some effort to surmount. But, for various historical reasons, those who divvy out the money in this world have decided that our efforts are worth significantly less money per hour than those of a shortstop or a CEO who bankrupts a corporation or a Senator who seldom shows up in Washington for work. That’s alright with me; so long as I can keep doing my job and spending time with my family without leaving my children (I only have one right now, ye rumor-sniffers) a pile of debt, I don’t need much cash, it turns out.
But that’s precisely why I would never make it on a campaign trail. The jet travel between swing states alone would bankrupt me, and while I have posted a couple YouTube videos of Micah playing in the back yard, I could never afford any television ads. Moreover, I don’t have any personal relationships with any millionaires who could fund such efforts. So ultimately, even if I could erase the nine truths about myself that preceded this one, the almighty dollar would prevent my ascent to president were I to change my life’s ambitions. Even giving public funding, one has to win the primaries to get that, and I do not have the cash even to compete in that arena. If Evan Bayh can’t step into the ring with the rock stars of the DNC, my only hope would be to convince Ralph Nader that he should replace Matt Gonzalez on his ticket with a bad evangelical English teacher. And we all know how likely that is.
In the end, of course, I’ve never really wanted to be president. I’m much happier remaining outside of Plato’s cave, contemplating what is real rather than spending my life telling lies for what I’d call good purposes. Plato, I’m sure, would say that I’m shirking my duty by not seeking rule, but that’s what’s nice about living on this side of Boethius–his Lady Philosophy would tell me that I’m right where I should be. Of course, contra Boethius, I’d maintain that there is no such thing as a-political human life. Even if someone were to run off and live on top of a mountain to avoid the contamination of human society, one could justly ask where the mountain-dweller got such an idea, and one would immediately be back in the hurly-burly of human contingency. So I’ll continue to think hard about those political realities where someone like myself has real influence–the poleis that are the classroom and the Church congregation and the family, and I’ll continue to strive for justice where I am the authority and prudence where I am not. And I’ll leave the presidenting to those with the stomach for it.