Congressman Thomas Massie has been in office for seven years now, but he still retains a strong connection to the Kentucky farmland that raised him.
Despite leaving the Bluegrass State for MIT, Massie apparently never felt comfortable on the East Coast. He eventually sold a multi-million dollar company, moving back to Kentucky with his wife to raise a family.
Now in his fourth term in Congress, Massie has remained rooted in the earth and his childhood community. The award-winning documentary, “Off the Grid with Thomas Massie,” demonstrates this as Massie shows viewers around his farm.
But the documentary does more than exhibit Massie’s hard work. It also makes a stirring analogy between the denizens of Washington D.C. and the inhabitants of Mordor and Middle Earth in J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings. Massie states:
Here’s the thing about the Hobbits that go to Mordor. Most of them succumb to the intoxication of power. In fact, I’ve got my ‘precious’ here with me. This is my Congressional pin, and I usually just keep it in my pocket where I can reach in and feel it. It gives me some comfort but I try not to ever wear it more than I have to, because when you, when you wear precious – and every Congressman has one of these and they love to wear them – you become intoxicated, and it’s the subtle things, that you don’t even realize that are happening when you’re wearing this pin.
Massie continues by describing the different treatment that power brings:
For instance, the Capitol Hill Police get out of your way, as you walk towards them. I once bumped into a policeman because I didn’t have precious on and he didn’t yield to me. And it’s those subtle things, like when you get in an elevator with ten people on Capitol Hill, and they look down and see you’re wearing precious, they all quit speaking. You know, they’ll hold the door open and let you exit first. When you’re walking down the hallway wearing precious people won’t make eye contact, they’ll look away and look down when you’re wearing precious.
And all of those things, as odd as it may seem, make the Hobbits who wear precious feel powerful and I can feel it myself, and it’s a scary feeling because I know if I wear this for too long it’s going to affect me, and not in good ways.
Massie’s analogy is a living example of the adage “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Every politician and statesman must wrestle with exercising the power entrusted to them by everyday Americans.
As Massie notes earlier in the documentary, government is a powerful tool with very serious and real consequences for people. It is therefore important that politicians are wary of adrenaline and the temptation to use that power improperly.
Massie’s decision to keep his own person isolated from the office he holds is a laudable one. Let us hope more of our politicians can resist the lure of their own “precious” and actually fulfill the duties their constituents sent them to do.
[Image Credit: Flickr-Stefans02, CC BY SA-2.0]