I don’t know politics

Senator Menendez with the New Jersey Organizing Project
Senator Menendez with the New Jersey Organizing Project, Toms River, October 2019

Lately a lot of people seem to want to talk with me about politics. That’s probably because I am the accountant or treasurer for politicians and politically-connected nonprofit organizations. I am polite when this occurs but really I don’t know anything about the topic and have nothing to contribute to the conversation. I try to interject socially appropriate supportive bits to act like I’m engaged, but it is sometimes a struggle.

I’ve worked closely with political consultants, elected officials and government liaisons to know that they speak a different language. That’s OK. It hasn’t hindered me in my efforts yet. I am fully supportive of them and their political projects. Perhaps someday I’ll catch up with the lingo, learn about the structures and network of support people, but that won’t hold me back for now.

There are plenty of topics that I do know about:

  • taxes
  • accounting, including campaign accounting
  • legally avoiding taxes
  • small business and nonprofit governance
  • financing a business
  • restorative aquaculture

Then there are other topics where I am clueless:

  • professional sports
  • politics
  • women

That’s just how it is.

Not knowing politics is different than not understanding the issues. I’m well engaged on the issues. I’ve been dragged into and barely survived some nasty politics over the years. By “politics” in this current case I mostly mean the discussions of the organizational powers that keep the two party system alive and well. It’s a whole world that, I presume, most people don’t know and wouldn’t care to know. But to them, I understand, it is a matter of survival. The conversations remind me of the never-ending chatter on the ESPN station on the TV mounted on the gym locker room wall. I take a locker on the opposite side just so that I don’t need to listen to the dribble.

My conclusion: It’s OK to not know politics and may, in fact, help me to be a better and more objective accountant for those whose careers revolve around these political issues.


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