When David Axelrod walked onstage at UIC as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival on November 9, it was immediately apparent that he was important. He was charismatic, eloquent, and much more humorous than one would expect. He started off talking about his childhood, inserting amusing anecdotes about his early involvement in politics. He then went on to talk about his career, and his work with several key political people, including Barack Obama. Axelrod talked about the controversial Health Care Reform, commonly known as Obamacare. He laughed and told a story about the early days of the planning of Obamacare, when President Obama asked his advisers what the likelihood that the bill would pass would be. “Well, Mr. Obama,” said one, “How lucky do you feel?” Obama looked at him for a second, and then said “I’m a black guy whose name is Barack Obama,and I’m President of the United Stated. I feel lucky every day.” These vignettes, which make up the majority of the interview, show how close Axelrod was to these history-making descisions, how influential his advice was to the Obama administration.
History books often talk about the Presidents, the front men for the administration. What they don’t mention are the people behind the scenes, the men like David Axelrod who are deeply involved with every event, giving their opinions and shaping history. Never have I wanted anything to do with the political world; when I was little I thought that being President would be boring (and besides, everybody knew that presidents were boys). After watching David Axelrod’s interview, though, I began to realize how much good I could do in politics. Currently, Axekrod teaches at University of Chicago. When asked why, he said “I want to teach these young people that to change the world, they have to be in politics. Any cause they believe in– animal rights, mental health, whatever– can be accomplished through politics.” He talked about his daughter with epilepsy, who constantly needed medication, and how he cried once the Obamamcare bill passed because it meant that nobody would have to suffer to give their children medication like he had when he was young and working at the Chicago Tribune. This emotional and beautifully honest statement made me realize that in order to truly change the world, you have to do it from inside the world of politics. “Politics are messy,”Axelrod says, “But they’re worth it.”
Never discredit the men behind the president, the people who are just as crucial as the commander in chief himself. These people change the world from behind the scenes, and they are never recognized by history. They do their work secretly, within the walls of the White House, and they change the world. Without them, history might not have been the same.