Food for Thought: Why Do Politicians Have to Be So Political?

Something I’ve been pondering…

Yesterday, I posted a reflection on Warren Buffett’s views on the economy. Buffett noted in an interview with Matt Lauer of TODAY that Republicans are wary of promoting taxing the richest Americans at a higher rate because they have their next election campaigns to worry about. A few blog posts ago, I mentioned that a leading African American clergyman in my city tells his parishioners and others in his community that they need to remember that President Obama is a politician, not a prophet. Therefore, Obama had to distance himself from Rev. Wright’s challenges to America, when running for the office of the Presidency the first time around.

Why do politicians need to be so political? Actually, aren’t we all political in that sense of the term—hedging our bets so as not to lose in the opinion polls? What moves politicians and the rest of us to move beyond protecting our personal and professional interests to concern ourselves with the common good, whatever the cost?

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

About Paul Louis Metzger

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and Professor at Multnomah Biblical Seminary/Multnomah University. He is the author of numerous works, including "Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths" and "Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church." These volumes and his others can be found wherever fine books are sold.

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  • Paul Kurth

    Most politicians do what is necessary to get elected, usually compromising on their personal beliefs. You just have to get more votes than the other guy. There are plenty of people running for office who actually believe in something special, but they rarely get elected because they are seen as strange or dangerous. Or most unfortunately, they are perceived as unable to win and so people who closely identify with that particular candidate look to spend their vote elsewhere where there is more perceived value. You are either voting not to “lose,” or voting for what you believe in. The latter is a difficult choice.

  • James O’Brien

    I think we would weed out those that are.simply making politically expedient positions during the election if we.changed the rewards they get for being in office. Make their pay what the average middle class income pay is and make them subject to the same laws they pass for everyone else. And make their pay and benefits end upon leaving office.

    When they make more money then those they represent and they don’t have to be subject to the same laws they pass, it makes for them to have selfish motives for getting elected versus truly serving the community. We also should be seeking to elect those that are true followers of Christ and esteem the greatest Commandments above all others.

  • Dr. Barry Kolb

    Kentucky coach John Calipari was asked, “What do you think about people’s p[perception of you?” His reply: “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Too bad more “politicians” and others did not operate the same way. Personally it works well for me!

  • christopher erik

    Public service is a very tricky thing. The idea of “service” like “minister,” involves a willingness to set personal ambition aside in the interest of serving the interests of others. If you’re the kind of person who values “winning,” popularity and privilege above “service” then you’re not likely to make a very good “public servant.”