I'm following local politics as best I can, and one thing I'm learning about it: you'll never know how much you don't know.
Today I had a chance to sit at the feet of a local political consultant and activist. This person knows enough local dirt to fill volumes. I heard names that were entirely new to me, names of people who "make things happen" in the county party. I heard stories of rivalries, alliances, grudging peaces forged and figurative cage matches declared. I heard warnings as well as endorsements. I heard financial details as well as personal differences.
I realized something walking out of there: that there is a LOT more to this party than you see at first. Pick up even the most benign-looking log on the trail and all manner of creepy things crawl out from under it. Rumors, false accusations, power plays,... a regular Shakespearean cast of characters.
I'm glad I'm in a position to hear things, but I want to stress this: if you look at the people in the party as your motivation or inspiration, you will be disillusioned time and again. We must look at the principles and values we share, and we must support the people who forward them. Yes, even if they have some dirty laundry or less-than-sterling motives.
But we must also fight to make sure we aren't trusting empty suits on power trips to carry our values forward. That approach has got us nowhere. It isn't the fault of leadership if they suck. It's our fault. And we're the only ones who can fix it.