(Content advisory on the video: some rough language, but what else can one expect of politicians.)
So you voted the straight party line for Nancy Pelosi and the voters in your districted booted you to the curb in November. Now you are out of work. It is a rough economy out there, so what are you, an ex-Congress Critter, going to do? Fortunately, the indispensable Iowahawk has some ideas:
Losing a job can be a challenging and stress-filled time. Especially during the holidays, and especially for someone like you – the soon-to-be former team associate of the United States Congress. At this moment, you may be packing boxes and moving vans with the cherished mementos and petty cash of your career in Washington. You may be wrapping those last-minute trillion dollar gifts and holiday earmarks for loyal supporters, phoning final farewells to your Washington colleagues, lobbyists, and “escort services.” In many cases you may find that they, too, have lost their jobs — and, if they haven’t, will no longer return your calls. And in those lonely moments between, you ask: why me?
Whether you’re a recently displaced 23-term committee chairman or a formerly smug unemployed staffer with $180,000 of Georgetown student loans, it’s important not to give in to despair. Psychological studies tell us a lost re-election campaign is the single most stressful event in the life of a congressional incumbent, even topping the indictment of a campaign contributor or an appearance at an unscripted town hall meeting. Also, a ballot box layoff is, next to death, the second-leading cause of leaving Congress. The good news is that there are positive, proactive steps you can take to reduce stress and smooth your transition to your new life in the great unknown outside I-95.
And that’s where this brochure comes in. At Iowahawk Congressional Outplacement Services our primary goal is to orient, retrain, and mainstream former employees of Capitol Hill for productive careers outside Washington. While we can’t get you back your seniority, your perks, or your mahogany-paneled office in the Dirksen Building, we can give you the tools you’ll need after your ignominious rejection by those bastard ingrates you’ll soon be living among. Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be back on your feet in no time! Probably.
Step 1: Assess Your Skills and Competencies
The road to your new non-Washington career begins with an inventory of your personal strengths and competencies. Read the critical skill list below, and circle the ones that you possess.
Telling other people what to do
Talking loudly over others
Condescension / arrogance
Threatening, browbeating, arguing
As a former Washington professional, you probably circled four or more of the above. Yes, there are some private sector industries where these skills are valued – such as journalism, bill collection, professional wrestling, higher education, and carnival barking. Unfortunately, these are all declining industries with low wages and/or fierce job competition. In order to maintain your standard of living, you will probably have to seek employment in other industries where you will find surprisingly little demand for your skills.
FAQs (frequently asked questions)
Instead of seeking a job, what if I decided to leverage my congressional skills in my own business?
While entrepreneurship can sometimes be very lucrative, it is a good idea to check with law enforcement officials. Under some federal and local statutes your new business may be interpreted as organized crime.
Step 2: Familiarize Yourself With Your New Industry
In order to land that good job back in your home district, you first need to understand the ins and outs of the non-Washington economic system. Unlike Washington’s easy-to-understand system of leveraging raw unbridled rulemaking and police power to extract tribute from fearful and/or favor-seeking constituents, non-Washington industries are largely based on the production of “goods” or “services.” It sounds complicated, but the basic idea boils down to making things or doing things that other people will pay for. The complicated part is to remember that they must pay for them voluntarily.
For example, let’s consider a hypothetical barber, and let’s call him ‘Joe.’ Joe does something – namely, he cuts people’s hair. The people whose hair Joe cuts enter his barbershop voluntarily, and pay him for his service, also voluntarily. Why? Probably because they desired a haircut, or possibly because they enjoy his amusing patter and racy magazine selection. The important thing to remember is that they paid for the haircuts voluntarily. Obviously, with his sharp implements and razors, once a customer is in his chair Joe could threaten to stab him or slit his throat unless he forks over his wallet and jewelry. Unfortunately, this would probably reduce the number of customers coming to Joe’s barbershop.
As a former member of Congress the challenge for you is to identify those things you can make, or things you can do, and target employers accordingly. List them in the spaces below.
Things I can make*: ____________________________________________________________________
Things I can do*: _______________________________________________________________________
*remember, list only those things that people will pay for voluntarily
Are you finished? If your space is blank, don’t worry. This is true of most Capitol Hill professionals. There are ways you can gain these skills which we will cover in Step 3.
I have been told I was a good legislative salesman when I was in Congress. Does this count as a ‘thing I can do’?
There is always demand for good salesmen and saleswomen in the private sector, but peddling influence and selling goods and services often require different skill sets. For example, you will not be allowed to persuade customers by outlawing your competition.
What if Joe hung a big sign on his barber pole announcing expensive fines and penalties for people who stop coming to his barbershop?
In principle this is a good idea, but Joe will need someone to voluntarily enforce his fines. He could subcontract enforcement to the Mafia, but even if this was legal the Mafia would probably demand a large commission of any fines they collect for Joe.
Go here to read the brilliant rest.