Monday musing: Yes, I work In politics. No, I don’t want to talk with you about it

There’s a funny bumper stick you’ll see on some trucks: “Yes, this is my truck. No, I don’t want to help you move.” If there were one of those about getting people to stop asking me about politics, I would buy 800 of them.

No one warned me that this would be an occupational hazard when I pursued politics as a career, but I should have realized it. Whatever career path someone chooses occupies much if not most of their waking hours. It makes sense that people will talk to them about, whether they’re colleagues or not.

It’s like the “94 Meetings” episode of “Parks and Recreation,” where the Parks Department’s friend Anne Perkins – a nurse – helps with the deluge of meetings from concerned citizens on one day. But everyone demands her medical advice instead. One guy just takes off his shirt and insists she look at “the weirdest thing” on his arm.

Anne looks at the camera and mutters, “Every time.”


Given that this is a presidential election year, and how politics has infused itself – unproductively – into every aspect of our society, it’s even worse than normal. Relatives call me and want to talk for an hour. People at my work space pounce on me before I can get to my office to demand my opinion on something I haven’t had a chance to read yet. Friends text me about what they think Trump’s ad campaign this week should look like. Conversations at church can rapidly skew un-churchy, or make eavesdroppers uncomfortable.

I do have some friends who will ask, “Who should I donate to?” and for that I’m usually happy to point them in the right direction. That can at least be constructive, and is a little validating about my expertise.

But the exhausting fact is that when people – good, wonderful people – want to talk with someone like me about politics, they don’t really want to talk with me about it: they want to tell me what they think while I nod in approval. They don’t want political insight; they want political therapy.

Alas, I can’t charge them billable hours in six-minute segments. See, since I work in politics, that means when people talk to me about politics, then I’m back at work. I’d rather they ask me to look at the weird thing on their arm.

Jared Whitley is a longtime DC and Utah politico, having worked for Sen. Hatch, President Bush, and others. He is principal at Whitley Political Media, LLC.