April 01, 2017

Source: Bigstock

Most people who speak for more than a few minutes will say something stupid or offensive to someone; and thanks to cameras and microphones, all that a politician says is recordable. In effect, modern politicians live under a totalitarian regime.

This means that, with few exceptions, only a certain kind of person, with very little attachment to his own personal liberty, will go in for a political career. This might be indicative of self-sacrifice, but more likely of vaulting ambition. And a person who attaches little value to his own liberty is unlikely to attach much value to the liberty of others. After all, if we can do without something, we assume that others can do likewise. As the politician prefers power to liberty, so he will assume that his electorate will prefer security, or some other advantage, to liberty.

But however careful a politician is, it is unlikely that he will altogether escape insult and demeaning commentary, all the more so in this age of easy communication, so much of which consists of insult and little else. He must therefore be a person with a rhinoceros hide; but people with rhinoceros hides are not necessarily attractive in character. Mr. Trump again seems different, in that he combines a rhinoceros hide with a thin skin. The insult du jour seems to sting him, but the pachydermatous integument remains fundamentally intact.

“€œA policeman’s lot is not a happy one,”€ sings the police sergeant in The Pirates of Penzance; but neither is a politician’s, unless he is a psychopath. And if he is not a psychopath or a megalomaniac, he is the most self-sacrificial person imaginable, far more devoted to the public good than any carping critic. I have met a few of these types; the trouble is that they rarely seem to rise to the top. If they achieve any kind of office, they soon resign on principle, leaving the field to the pachyderms and the personality disorders.


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