I started Richard Nixon's 1982 book Leaders, which profiles various world leaders, many of whom Nixon knew. In this post, I'll use as my starting-point something that Nixon says on pages 25-26. Nixon is talking about Winston Churchill, and how Churchill in 1922 was really depressed because he could not serve in the House of Commons at that time, due to an "emergency appendectomy [that] prevented him from campaigning for reelection."
"Talleyrand once said, 'In war one
dies only once, in politics one dies only to rise again.' Churchill's
career certainly bears out the truth of this observation. But an adage
is precious little comfort for a man who has just lost an election.
Having lost a couple of them, I know how it feels. Friends tell you,
'Won't it be great to have no responsibility and to be able to travel,
go fishing, and play golf anytime you want?' My answer is 'Yes----for
about one week.' Then you have a totally empty feeling that only one
who has been through it can understand.
"The immediate aftermath
is not so bad because you are still numbed by the exhaustion of the
campaign, and you are still operating with a high level of adrenaline.
Weeks or months later the realization hits you that you have lost and
that there is nothing you can take back or do differently to change the
outcome. Unless you are wealthy, there is also the necessity of
beginning another career in order to pay the bills that keep coming in
every week regardless of how you feel."
Politics was in
Churchill's and Nixon's blood, so of course they would come back to it!
Would I have? I don't know. I can easily picture myself relaxing and
chillin', and thinking to myself, "Man, I hope this lasts forever!" I'd
be happy to be out of the public eye, away from people's nitpicking and
attacks, away from having to socialize with all those people. But
would that relaxation get boring after a while? Would there be
something within me that would drive me back into the arena? And then
there's another factor that Nixon mentions: how real life comes crashing
through! The bills keep coming, even to those who are burnt out.
Unless one is wealthy, one has to make money!
I think of Garner Ted Armstrong.
He was the head of one of the churches that I attended when I was
growing up. He served in his father's church as a preacher and as one
of the personalities on the church's radio and TV show, The World Tomorrow.
But he was excommunicated from his father's church, and he was
confronted with the question of what he would do then. He says that he
was offered jobs as a TV news anchor, since he had experience and some
success on a TV show. But he concluded that those jobs were not for
him. He would have to tell people the news, without bringing the Bible
into his discussion. Instead of taking a news anchor job, he would go
on to start his own religious organization, and he would have his own
radio and TV programs, where he could discuss the news in light of his
own understanding of the Bible.
In my case, there have been times
when I have had to turn off my computer during the day due to
thunderstorms, and I've enjoyed the time away. I could read. I didn't
have to worry about what people were saying (or, actually, not saying)
about me on the Internet. I even thought for a second that I could walk
away from my blogs, and perhaps never come back! But could I truly? I
don't think so. Granted, there may be seasons in which I'd rather not
participate too heavily in the world of blogging and social media. But
there is something within me that makes me want to write, to reflect on a
movie, a TV show, a book, an idea, life, scholarship on religious
studies, or a political personality by sharing my thoughts via writing.
I doubt that I could walk away from that. I think it's in my blood,
like politics was for Nixon and Churchill, and like religion was for
Garner Ted Armstrong.