psychology of politics as usual

Exploring the General Principles of Politics as Usual

It has been said that the moral arc of a political career could be divided into four parts: idealism, pragmatism, ambition, and corruption.

  1. One begins with a passion for a cause, determined to challenge "the system".
  2. Then (s)he learns to work for his cause within "the system", but it requires compromise to the means employed and the ends aimed for.
  3. Then (s)he learns that to rise in the system likely will benefit his cause(s) and himself and other (sometimes powerful) friends and allies.
  4. Then after much effort and sacrifice, finally (s)he sees opportunity to exploit the system — his connections, and his understanding of it - for personal advantage. (S)he will likely feel a sense of entitlement to these "perqs", and that enjoying them does no harm to the cause.
  5. Those who enjoy benefits and prividges of their position are reluctant to give them up. Now being an "Insider" of politics as usual, they see further compromises to their underlying cause as "concessions to reality" and "pragmatic".
  6. Ultimately there is no upward bound to how much entitlement (s)he feels. Long involvement in politics leaves them deeply politicized, and activity is focused mainly on faction fights and settling scores.