Learn from Al Franken, giant of the Senate, by reading his new book of the same name.
Editorial note, December 1, 2017. We wrote this post well before the assorted allegations came out against Franken. The whole thing is weird and foul. His second apology for what turned out to be the first allegation was strong, and we support his call for an ethics investigation of himself. We continue to follow developments. Regardless, Franken’s book is good, and people who are pondering the idea of running for office have much to gain from it. We stand by our recommendation of Giant of the Senate. Original text follows.
This is the book we need right now, for several reasons. Franken shows how a smart, passionate person who never in a million years dreamed of becoming a United States senator finds himself well into his second term.
Actually, let’s correct that. He doesn’t “find himself well into his second term.” He had to work like a dog crossed with a mule to get elected, and then he had to work some more, and the work has never let up. He made big sacrifices. He suffered. His family suffered. He made mistakes. He still makes mistakes. And it’s all worth it.
In this book, Franken shows how a human being becomes a Senator. He does this with ample humor and blistering honesty. And he takes away one more excuse that’s stopping you from getting more involved with politics, and staying involved once you do.
So, go get a copy. Go read it. And pay special attention to the end of the book. Page 382-383 has the advice you all need. To sum up, he says:
Keep showing up and keep speaking out.
Keep being a pain in the butt, including to me. (But don’t accost him in the airport, please. He means carry on calling, emailing, and writing letters.)
Become an advocate for a cause that matters to you.
Keep your head up.
And while, technically, this isn’t giving away the end of the book because another chapter follows, we’re going to quote from page 385, which might be the most important page:
“But even if you don’t run for office, in order to be part of determining what our shared future looks like, you have to be willing to give up things like time and energy and money. You have to be willing to tolerate a seemingly endless stream of injustices and disappointments. You have to endure an overwhelming amount of noise and nonsense. And the worst part is, you’re not guaranteed a return on your investment.
That’s why, even on the good days, politics is hard. And on the bad days, it can feel downright futile. I’ve had some of those bad days since I started this journey… but I have a feeling that the worst days of my political career are still ahead.
I’m sure there will be moments over the next few years where I’ll wish I was back at Saturday Night Live, laughing like crazy in a room full of my best friends, or even just hanging out with my grandkids and giving my brain a break from the constant stream of noise that passes for our political discourse.
But I’ll tell you this: I’m glad I’m here.
And I’m glad you’re here, too.”
Order Al Franken, Giant of the Senate: