When thinking about people in the position of power one tends to think of them as representatives of some other breed of human beings. After all, they’ve managed to rise so high and keep their positions, they have to deal with unimaginable crises on a daily basis, they decide the fate of millions of people and, by extension, of the world in general. Surely they cannot be the same as common men, right?
Yes and no.
On the one hand, contrary to popular belief, political leaders aren’t necessarily more intelligent than the majority of so-called ‘common men’ – or rather, they possess some other kind of intelligence, different from what is conventionally meant by this word. This intelligence helps them rise up high, intuitively understand how to deal with people and prevail over opposition; it doesn’t necessarily help them in dealing with any other problems.
Come to think of it, it is hard to understand where people get the idea that personalities in the positions of power are in any way special and better suited to making important decisions. Anybody with at least a passing acquaintance with history and awareness of current events sees that typical political leaders regularly make decisions that are nothing short of idiotic – not in hindsight, but right from the get go. The only thing one needs to be a successful politician is to be likable. And in order to be likable, one doesn’t have to possess either knowledge or intelligence – in fact, history knows many political leaders who were able to inspire loyalty and sympathy while being complete cyphers as individuals.
What we all should understand is that a typical and even a good political leader isn’t the same as a good human being. In fact, to believe that a politician you back is a good person is almost morbidly optimistic, as history tells us quite explicitly: percentage of decent human beings in politics, irrespectively of nation, epoch and system of government is infinitesimally negligible, with the chance of one getting into a position of true power being even less probable.
There is no such thing as good or bad political leaders. There are only those that are bad and those that are even worse. Therefore, the choice between different political leaders is not a choice between good or evil, right or wrong – it is the choice between a greater and a lesser evil. It is exactly what we all should understand when dealing with different people promoting different agendas. A typical politician cannot be trusted by definition – politics is an art of influencing people, and one cannot influence people being good and honest all the time.
Of course, all political leaders want us to perceive them as honest, compassionate and consistent people whose only goal in life it to help us improve our lives. Reality is, of course, different. A typical political leader pursues his or her own goals; an atypical leader is very unlikely to rise high enough to matter.