Why I Decided on Politics and Law
Article by, Andrew Barness
I could have decided to have a better and more rewarding life. Coming from a family where more than half of its members have made profitable careers in medicine, I could have followed suit. However, I decided not to pursue medical school. In fact, it still boggles my mom and others on why I decided on a different career than medicine. Was it because I would make more money with the profession I wanted? No. Was it because I would find more fulfillment and a meaningful life? No. Could it be I might be serving others by pursuing a higher call above myself? Again no; in fact, most people see my profession as corrupt and lesser than the lowest lifeform on earth. After following my passion for over five years, I have come to a brutal and honest conclusion about my ultimate career decision.
To understand any major life decision, we must start with the beginning. I have always been interested in history from a very young age; in fact, the first major historical topic that I loved was the American Civil War. From there, I deepened my interest in history to cover both antiquities all the way to the modern age; this personal passion still sticks with me to this day. However, I was not really interested in politics until I was in high school. The very first time I got exposed to politics was, ironically enough, watching the FOX News coverage of the George Zimmerman trial. The complete transformation of my life into politics, and eventually law in college, was because I took AP US Government where my class did the “We the People: The Citizen and The Constitution” competition in which we got Colorado State Runner-Up. After that, the rest is history, and I finally decided to make politics my life career.
Still, I have to be honest and say getting the degree in PolySci is a “BS” degree. This is because the only people who succeed in this field end up becoming lawyers, elected government officials, or political pundits in news media. Anything less is not worth the time, energy, and money as job prospects and pay are not the most competitive anymore.
As mentioned before, I did not make this decision because of the career and the ability to make “bank.” On the contrary, compared to a lot of my friends from high school and in college, I would be making either the median or less than they will in their careers. This is because according to Study.com, the highest paying jobs in Political Science are a Political Scientist in D.C., 20 years tenure at a college, or a lawyer. Still, these professions are very competitive and very hard to get into. For an example, if you want to be a lawyer, not only must you take the bar, but you must take the Law School Admission Test. This is a standardized test which tests abstract skills in logical reasoning which nobody has a natural understanding unless they happen to be a Philosophy Major. After that, depending on the prestige of the law school and the type of law you go into, only then will you start to make a nice living. It is worse for Political Scientists as their only two options are think tanks or colleges. It is hard to get a job at The Federalist or The Heritage Foundation. However, schools are arguably worse as you do not have job security until you have tenure at the place which takes years to achieve
Pay is not much better, as according to Study.com the median salary of a Political Scientist ranges from $47-162K depending on the school or think tank and your seniority. Lawyers have it better at $115K in 2015 but that is only until you either establish your own firm or you join one as an associate attorney. Still, if you are not willing to go those routes, the best you can do is $56K for public relations, $21-81K for journalist depending on seniority, and $54-73K as a teacher depending on the type of education and tenure.
So, with such poor job prospects and pay, unless you make it big in Politics or enter as a lawyer, why did I evidently choose this profession? I decided to go into Law and Politics because it is the only thing I am good at, but also someone has to sacrifice their happiness and a life of possibility to make sure our national values are preserved both from government and civilian tyranny. I feel there are people who share my mentality who not only want to defend parchment documents nearly 300 years old, but they also want to serve their country by continuing the intellectual battle at home. I and others would rather see our lives drained of happiness, but we are also willing to subject our lives to the scrutiny of the public. It is not an easy profession, as President Trump soon realized and has admitted, but it is not the most pain-stricken job to do.
Each job brings its own stresses and rewards and unfortunately not everyone is made for it, nor will everyone succeed in it. However, despite the rhetoric politicians and lawyers are “The lowest form of life on earth” as Patton said, hopefully, those including myself can bring back honor and dignity to public service. Not all politicians are corrupt and neither are all lawyers, yes both are stressful and very unrewarding jobs, but someone has to do it. Someone has to tell the cold hard facts and someone has to volunteer to take the flack for when people’s livelihoods are not doing so well. I have come to realize this post four years into committing to law and politics. It will be hard, but God willing, there is a time and place for not only myself but others like me will be looked at as sincere and honest people. People who want to improve the lives of others at the expense of our own pleasure in life, for that is what we are here to do.
Cover image courtesy of: https://www.education.uw.edu/cirge/career-outcomes-of-political-science-phd-recipients/