In my foray into politics I was struck early on of the different kinds of politicians that there are. At the risk of oversimplifying, I would put them into two categories.
The first group are those that are politicians based on their values. They have a worldview that is made up of certain values, and they more or less into politics in order to systematize those values.
The second group are those that are politicians based on votes. Their worldview is shaped by what they perceive the public wants and values at the time. They are the types of politicians that could believe one thing one term and the complete opposite on the next.
The value based politicians are those that usually run for politics when they see some sort of alignment with the public’s wishes and their values. They understand that there will be much opposition to their stance and policies but they don’t really care. They also understand that there is generally short windows for their service and would shrug off losing an election as simply not their time. If the majority of people don’t agree with them, they understand that means that they won’t get elected. They aren’t willing to change their values, and it’s generally not worth it to try and change anyone else’s.
The vote based politicians come with a range of different motives. Some of them understand their role as public servant to mean that they are to always be on the side of the majority on every issue, and if society changes, then they will change what they work towards to be in line with whatever the majority wants. Some of them simply want to retain power, so they watch where the wind is going and they make sure that they are saying the same things that the majority is saying.
The value based politicians tend to have more narrow minded agendas and have a harder time making space and time for the representative role that comes with being a politician. When elected, they tend to show up with their energy focused working towards those goals. They tend to make space for in depth conversations around topics because they are comfortable with where they could end up and have done a lot of the work to understand the complex nature of them. They aren’t interested in gaining momentum on a superficial level for the next election and so little attention is paid to public perception.
The vote based politician once elected tend to have much more time and energy for dealing with the current events and people’s needs because they never really had any goals or agendas that they showed up with. They are the kinds of politicians that do a lot of photo-ops, focus on marketing to strengthen their image and always seem to be shallow in their responses to complex issues. They are strong in their messaging when the majority of their support is on their side and they ignore the downfalls of their stances almost completely.
The larger the system is, the more likely it will be rife with vote based politicians. Trudeau is a classic example of a vote based politician. He says all sorts of things, sometimes completely contradictory, to appeal to audiences and win public favour. He is primarily focused on his image, to a point where in the last election he was almost completely silent and just plastered his pretty face all over the place in an attempt to win people over by his trusting smile. He has lied about everything. He has not moved Canada towards any of the things that he promised and in many cases he’s actually backtracked and done the opposite of what he promised.
However, there are some special exceptions to the rule. José Figueres Ferrer is an example of someone that was interested in reform and even stepped down after eighteen months as he felt that his goals were accomplished. We will see what happens in November if Bernie Sanders is successful in his election bid, as he is another example of someone who has been saying the same things for decades and has now found significant support without changing his values. The vote based politicians that are running against him are quite obvious where almost all of them have changed their views over time, some of them coming from the Republican party and others just lying about where they stood.
I’ve had enough of politicians that just want to win and are interested in saying, believing and doing anything in order to do so. Where are the ones with convictions and a vision for society that they are working towards whether elected or not? Where are the ones with character that are steadfast and see politics as a means to an end and not the end itself?