Why People Become Politicians

Asti Yulia

Once upon a time, a famous ancient Greek philosopher said that man is basically a political animal, zoon politikon. Therefore, from the beginning of human life politics is one of the basic needs and in the same time, politics is the highest goal of human life. The closest realization of politics is to become part of it, to become a politician.

There are various reasons why people become politicians. The most common and widely understood reasons why people become politicians is in order to grab power whether for better or for worse. Since the ancient times of human race, power and politics are two sides of the same coin, meaning, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” like Lord Acton used to say. I think that’s why they created separation of power into three different branches, namely legislative, executive and judicative powers.

However, history shows that Lord Acton’s dictum is still valid, alive and kicking until today everywhere in the world.

So here’s a rundown of my reading of the reasons why people become politicians :

• Never ending lust for power :
For instance: the late president of Indonesia Soeharto and other dictators who ran their countries for unusually long years.
• Illusion that they can make other people’s life better :
For instance, Lenin and Mao Zedong.
• Pure greed :
Such as Dick Cheney, the former vice president of USA, who gave contracts worth billions of dollars to his own companies during the Iraq War under his vice presidency. Similar motive might be expected from Indonesian legislative members of various parties in this year’s election, like in two previous elections.
• Stupid heroism :
For example, John F Kennedy who gave voting rights to African-Americans and paid his decision with his life.
• It is written :
For instance, the members of the Nehru and Gandhi families in India; the Bhuttos in Pakistan; the Soekarnos in Indonesia; and last but not least the Bushes in the great US of A.

As to the purposes of why do people become politicians, here are some of them:

• Noble Purpose :
To create better legislation for the wellbeing of citizens of the nation, whether true or imagined, which usually ends up in disillusion.
• Mildly Evil Purpose :
To build network of personal connection for the preparation of retirement days. Recent example is the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who joined the Board of Directors of Morgan Stanley for a modest payment of ₤ 2 millions a year. (What an exemplary pay for an ex Labour Party leader)

• Seriously Evil Purpose :
To get rid of other races, like Adolf Hitler of Germany, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Pieter Willem Botha of South Africa (with a little help of his friends in Brittain,
of course)

Common psychological disorder of politicians

Regardless of ideologies, reasons, purposes, and motives of becoming politicians, they all tend to suffer a psychological disorder called selective amnesia: They always forget the promises they give to their constituents during their election campaigns, but they never
forget to collect their salaries.

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