Politics is a dirty, nasty business. It can only lead from reality to hope to vision to idea to ambition to plan to effort to connection to power to realization to dogma to stasis to abuse to pain and, of course, to ruin. So, I write to ask you to get involved.

My father was in politics. He was a powerful state legislator who became Director of Legislative Services for the Great State of West Virginia. His accomplishments were many, and now he has a bridge named after him. Very few optometrists have a bridge named after them. Perhaps a couple dentists do, though. (Get it? A “bridge” named after them? Cue rim shot and laugh track.)

Why should an optometrist get involved in politics? Well, first, it’s important to define the word “involved.” That’s what scares us away. Being involved can be as easy (or as difficult) as writing a check. In some ways, that’s what is needed anyway. Of course, cash is always appropriate, as it is backed up by the full weight of the People’s Republic of China.

What, you may ask, has politics ever done for me? Well, my dear doctors, does the phrase “you have a career” ring a bell? That’s right. Politicians decide whether you do. You just haven’t lived until you have taken a day off from the office to sit in an interim meeting while lawyers and other ne’er-do-wells decide whether you should be able to take PDs or treat “guacamole,” as they call it. It will warm the cockles of your patriotic heart when you realize that we Americans have the finest form of government in the whole universe, if you exclude ants and bees. And, after you proudly learn that important and confusing fact, you will realize just how much the rest of the universe’s governments must absolutely suck.

Can you name even one of your local state legislators? I know how you feel. I kinda lost track a couple of years ago … in 1983. BUT, you will be impressed to know that I have made a commitment to work on that issue and I should know ALL of my legislators within the next 30 days, unless of course I decide to read Sarah Palin’s book instead. (Hey, that will take some brainpower to get through!)

Remember, there are people right this second, sitting in crowded rooms, full of gruel and last night’s sour mash, deciding, essentially, what kind of car you’ll be able to afford. Now, you might not care whether you ever buy another phoropter, but it got your attention when I mentioned the “c” word, huh?

That’s right. Men and women (but mostly men because some women actually have sense, unless they represent the state of California) are sitting in old leather chairs with your future in the pile on their desks, just under the bacon-turkey wrap their assistant brought them for lunch. One mayonnaise smudge on the paper could lead to your abolishment! And there goes your cool car.

I want you to e-mail your state association and ask them for the name and number of the PAC chairperson. Call the PAC person and say that you are mad as hell and you’re not gonna take this anymore. Then, tell them that you only called to find out if they knew what movie that line was from, and then you should hang up and have your phone number changed to an unlisted one because the PAC guy or girl might assume you want to volunteer and that would mean that you may have to actually speak to a state legislator—in person. That would be horrifying. You would rather get a new job, right? I mean, you could invent the next thing that makes thighs thinner or dogs behave. There is life after optometry!

OK, I know you’re scared. Forget volunteering your time. Write the stupid check. Your profession needs you, doctor.