There is a good deal of difference between a mere politician and a politician who is also a statesman. In this age of gender sensitiveness and equality of opportunities between men and women, the word statesman here should be understood to refer to both male and female political activists.
A politician and a statesman can be distinguished by what they say and do and how they behave. Their motivations are different though some politicians can so behave as to simulate a statesman.
A politician is a person who enters politics primarily to find their way to Parliament. If they see that they have no chance of being elected to Parliament, they give up politics and turn to what can give what them love. That is money, the comfort and prestige that money gives. They see someone who owned only a bicycle and wore sandals is soon transformed after being elected to Parliament. Instead of a bicycle, they now own a Mercedes Benz or Toyota. Instead of a thatched-grass house, they now have a brick house with iron sheets. They say, aha, there is easy money in politics. Should they be elected to Parliament but later lose the election, you never hear them talking politics again or attending meetings of the party to which they belonged.
A statesman goes into politics moved by patriotism. They listen to the ghost voice of President John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you c can do for your country.”
Even if they are not elected at their first or second attempts, they participate in politics, supporting certain policies and ideologies. They accept payment as a Member of Parliament or minister but they are not there primarily for money. They study certain issues carefully; seek advice from those who are experts so that they can effectively contribute to debates. They are invariably present when Parliament sits whereas the seat of a mere politician is from time to time empty because major issues do not interest them. They are only interested in the daily allowances.
A mere politician is a disciple of Nicollo Machiavelli. They use any means to gain political power. They will use flattery if that will work. They will use violence against their opponent because they do not believe in democracy and equality of opportunity when they are the loser. To them, the end justifies the means.
A mere politician does not adhere to any ideology. They join the party that is likely to win and offer them a position. Their loyalty is not deep. If their party seems to have no chance of winning an election, they switch to another party. We have seen such people. They move from one party to another denouncing the leadership of the one they are leaving and praising and flattering the leadership of the one they want to join. They do not believe in permanent loyalties or friendship.
If you want to go into marriage, if you are a woman, do you accept proposals from a man who has divorced three or five wives? Do so if you like but remember that this fellow will also discard you if he sees a prettier woman. If you are a man do you marry a much married woman? Do so, but if she sees another man with more money, she is going to desert you; for her, wandering from one husband to another is no shame. A mere politician resembles these two persons.
A statesman does not usually abandon the party they join because they believe in its policies and ideology. They may believe in socialism so strongly that a party that espouses capitalism does not appeal to them even if it wins election. They stick to a socialist party and continue to speak in defence of socialism hoping that one day enough people will be converted and vote for them and their party. Statesmen are loyal party members and are loyal to their leader. A mere politician behaves like a chameleon that changes its colour according to surroundings. A statesman changes political parties in very exceptional circumstances. Their change of heart is genuine and not mere whim. Whether the politician is in power or in opposition, they never use fair words in reference to their opponent. They are fault-finders. When in opposition, they make speeches only to denounce the one in power so as to entice the public to themselves. When the one in office has done something that some people consider worthy of praise, the politician belittles it. They never acknowledge a successful outcome of what government has done in case this helps the government to be re-elected.
They generally wish those in power to fail at what they do so that the public should invite them into office. They delight in the misfortunes of their opponent.
A statesman whether is in or outside office is guided by national interest. Even when they are in opposition, they say or do nothing that damages the images of the country just to advance their own ambition. When they criticize, they use polite not abusive language. They do not regard the person in power as an enemy but a friend who merely cherishes different views. When invited to official functions, they attend. At the beginning of multiparty era, members whose party were in opposition would not attend even such great functions as independence celebrations out of mere jealousy. These were politicians not statesman.
When a politician has lost in the election, they accuse the winner to have rigged the ballots even though there is nothing to suggest this. On the hand, they themselves will use all sorts of tricks to win the elections.
A statesman who loses in an election congratulates the winner and says it does not matter whether I lose provided in electing my opponent, the people felt they made a correct choice. Let the people and democracy win even if I lose.
When Jimmy Carter of the United States lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan, he visited many parts of the world speaking favourably of his country and the president. Carter was a statesman. One wishes African presidential candidates who lose had the heart of Carter.
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