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What do people think about politicians?

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That people do not trust politicians is a given universal fact, but I have just discovered that the intensity of that distrust is horrendously shocking.

After exploring why people distrust government Open Perspective now projects the politician through global lens to partly clarify the foundation for the conflicted relationship between politicians and citizens.

Yet be forewarned. This is near treasonous stuff.

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So what do people think about politicians?

Let us start with Amit Abraham’s admission that “People tell me that I should become a politician and I say no, I want to do something good for the nation”. Well, can’t politicians do something good?

Honestly I am lost as to what Abraham means. What I know is that this is criminal thinking; it is a betrayal of a warped world-wide view that politicians are an enormous liability and a real danger to nations.

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Do you think it is crazy to think that politicians are a danger to nations?

Well not at all. One Muhammad Iqbal actually says nations are born in the hearts of poets; they prosper and die in the hands of politicians.

Indeed for some, becoming a politician is an outrage. John F. Kennedy, an iconic American President, once remarked: “Mothers all want their sons to be president but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process.”

Why not? Why denigrate politicians so much? They are a laughable lot devoid of seriousness.

I believe it was Dick Armey, who said, “Three groups spend other people’s money: children, thieves and politicians. And all of them need supervision”. Supervising politicians? You would need robust security.

Politicians are a huge paradox. In the eyes of George Will, “Politicians are elites that accomplish mediocrity for the public good”. Is this not an unfair characterisation of incredibly important people?

Maybe not: Charlie Chaplin rather disrespectfully says “I remain one thing and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician”. Really!

In the eyes of many, politicians not only lack seriousness; they don’t know who they are. Claude Pepper observes; “The mistake politicians make is forgetting that they are appointed through election; they have not been anointed”. I understand; far too many politicians are obstinate stickers!

Politicians are viewed as certified pathological liars. Damien Bichir says “The only people we can’t trust are politicians because those guys lie to everybody constantly”. Rob Delamy has a rejoinder – it is in politicians’ job description to lie, every day.

Even the big man Nikita Khrushchev has something to say: politicians promise to build bridges even where there are no rivers. Really! Could this be the reason they cannot keep their promises? I admittedly don’t know.

Jarod Kintz a fierce critic of politicians teases, “On average women are better liars than men. But the best liars are men because politicians are still predominantly men”. Well this is a really bad attitude towards an indispensable species. How so criminally unfair a judgement!

Mention the word politician and comes to mind secrecy and illusiveness. Politicians are secretive pandas such that words like transparency can be quite annoying. They say secrecy is necessary for good governance and security. Is it any wonder free expression and free access to information are huge scares to this breed of homo-sapiens!

To citizens the world-over politicians are synonymous with selfishness and corruption. Doug Larson projects this view when he says “Instead of giving a politician the key to the city, it might be better to change the locks”. What cheek saying this about sacrosanct leaders!

On this Jarod Kintz is a greater daredevil, declaring ‘Whether you’re a democrat or a republican, I think everybody agrees that politicians are crooks. But I don’t think politicians are thieves because you can’t steal what you’re given. Once we stop giving in, they will stop taking”.

Israelmore Ayivor adds, “The bedrock of corruption is the attitude of selfishness. Nations are ruined when politicians think for themselves first before thinking about anyone else”.

And do not think this razor- sharp distrust and criticism of politicians is limited to our time:

Thousands of years ago, Aristophanes said: look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor both state and people can only praise their uprightness, but when they are fattened on public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack democracy.

All this is fine but it is gravely treasonous to insinuate that politicians are dull people, yet that’s exactly what George Bernard Shaw means when he says, “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career”.

The bottom line is that to many people in all countries of this planet politicians are seen to lack morals and ethics. George Martin writes about politicians who had had too little morals and ethics to stay lawyers – a loud and clear indictment and a cause for widespread distrust.

In closing: as we work to create a values-led Malawi, moral change is required at all levels to unite and to generate mutual trust.

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