Grateful to be privilegedNovember 24th, 2013 by Steven Gardner
We all have a lot to be grateful for here. By “here” I mean whatever you want it to mean.
On Sunday I got to do something that comes as a benefit of doing this job. There was no particular news value to going to watch Air Force One land in Seattle and to see the President Barack Obama come off the plane. My attendance at the event probably didn’t add anything special for the people of Kitsap County who I write for. Joel Connelly of the Seattle P-I and Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times will be writing the local stuff for the Seattle market, telling what they can about President Obama’s visit. All I got to do was go out and film his arrival. In fact, by the time you read this he will probably have already left.
So why did I go?
Because I can.
I’m a sort of political geek. I’m not the best at poly sci trivia or guessing from one strategy to the next, but there’s something about governance and the quest for it that intrigues me. And when you’re the kind of political nerd I am, being able to see a president is akin to owning a Ken Griffey rookie card.
On Friday I got an email inviting me to go attend the president’s arrival. I usually ignore those things, for the reasons above. There is nothing for Kitsap County residents that I can necessarily get at one of those events. That was especially true today, because he wasn’t even greeted by anyone local, not even Gov. Jay Inslee, whose permanent home is on Bainbridge Island. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, our congressman, wasn’t there either. For $16,000 you might have been able to go see him speak at a couple of wealthy Democrats’ homes over on the other side of the water.
For reasons I still haven’t processed when I got this email I decided to ask my bosses if I could go. I got the OK and sent my RSVP.
There is some rationale for making the trek that does have some bearing on residents of Kitsap County. I make the case that most residents of Washington don’t have any less access to the information they want and need than I do. We reporters learn how to get at information quicker, but generally you have just as much right to see it as we do.
This, however, was not a public event. They invited media. And I have a hunch that there are a few hundred people in Kitsap County who if given the opportunity to go do something as simple as I did, filming the arrival of the president, would jump at it. Furthermore, they might even be upset at the likes of me for continually ignoring those invites. So to some degree, some of what I did today was for them.
Don’t accuse me of overstating that. I went for my own benefit. Before Sunday I had seen three candidates who would become president, but never an actual president (Unless you count kind of seeing Ronald Reagan through the windows of his limousine on a dark night). Well, now that I went on Sunday, I can no longer say that. It was kind of important to me. I’m nerdy that way. As we approach Thanksgiving on Thursday, I’m thankful that I now have had the opportunity I had today, that we live in a place where this privilege exists and that I have the job that I do.