This year’s elections promise to be the most exciting since–well, the elections four years ago. As a result, many people will be inspired to get involved in politics or even consider public office in an effort to make the world a better place. For those so motivated, there is a veritable smorgasbord of positions at the local, state and federal levels through which one can make a difference; president, senator, congressman/woman, governor or city council.
For the rest of you, there’s sergeant-at-arms.
Bitchin’ cool sergeant-at-arms outfit.
One naive source defines “sergeant-at-arms” as “An officer appointed by an organization or government body, whose duties are to enforce the orders given by the warrant of its presiding officer.” In practice, the nation’s sergeants-at-arms form a clandestine paramilitary network whose members buy weird-looking outfits from mail-order Sergeant-at-Arms supply catalogs and intimidate their subjects with the looming threat of physical harm and financial ruin.
Sergeant-at-Arms, Sioux Falls SD Rotary Club: “You sit down–right now!”
At the high school level, the office of sergeant-at-arms is viewed as a painless resume enhancer, requiring less work than class president or even Senior Prom Committee member. Despite the minimal duties involved, sergeants-at-arms are treated as full-fledged class officers in the school yearbook and at senior awards assembly.
High school sergeant-at-arms: “Don’t you dare stick your gum under that desk.”
The office of sergeant-at-arms subjects an individual to a minimal risk of assassination, since SAAs are usually at least three heartbeats away from power, after president, vice president and treasurer. While there is no standard set of sergeant-at-armly duties, here are the responsibilities that one professional organization expects of those who would wield the awesome powers of the office:
1. Arrange room prior to meeting, including tables and chairs.
2. Manage and maintain all club equipment between meetings.
3. Greet members and guests, introduce other officers.
4. Attack competing fraternal organizations, take members hostage.
“I repossessed your car because you were behind in your dues, maggot.”
What does it take to become a sergeant-at-arms? First and foremost, the moral courage to run for the office when all about you languish in apathy and cynicism. Second, you must persuade people to vote for you. Tip O’Neill, the legendary Massachusetts congressman, said the way to get votes was to ask for them. In other words, you must persuade your friends and colleagues that you deserve to be elected to an office where you will have little to do, and less authority to do it with.
If you can convince yourself and others that you’re the right person for such a job, you have a bright political future ahead of you.