There is a big difference between a common man and a politician. The politician represents the ruling class. Politicians are at the top of the hierarchy of a democratic political system, while the common man — the producer of wealth and provider of goods and services — is at the bottom of that hierarchy. It is quite evident that the lives of citizens under democracy largely depend on the decisions and actions of the political class and that is why it is very important to understand the psychology of politicians.
It would be a gross mistake to say that all politicians are corrupt. One can expect to find a similar number of corrupt people from those who belong to the political class and from those who are merchants, doctors, farmers, or IT professionals.
However, the entire political class is dishonest. It would be impossible for anyone to remain a politician and have full integrity, too. A politician cannot think straight like a common man with a non-political background. This is because of the difference between the psychology of a common man, who is actually a producer and provider and who only cares for his job, family and progress, and the psychology of a politician who produces nothing but the policies on how to redistribute the gross production of all producers of those underneath him. Have you heard the fable of the crooked monkey who decides to distribute bread equally between two cats?
The differences between a Common Man, a Politician, and a Criminal
Most of us believe that a repeat criminal has a depraved mentality. We also believe that the common man who doesn’t do criminal acts is a normal person, who is usually sane. If there is a certain psychological difference between the ruling class (politicians) and the governed (citizens), then there should be consistent differences between the acts of a politician and a common man.
The politician’s job is to promote policies designed to govern citizens, to be enforced by the police and courts. He has no other work. The common man, who is the producer, is in the vast majority of people, and he is governed by the law. He can usually be expected to be honest. A criminal is a person who commits crimes, and his work is dishonest. The political class is the power behind the law. They have the power to make policies and have the law enforced by the police; and they can twist and turn it to suit their desires. If law is the base of examining the normalcy of a person and his actions, then the common man, criminal, and politician live in three different environments.
However, all three of these are bound by the necessity to make a living. Ayn Rand categorized mankind in two distinct classes, namely, the producer or prime mover, and the parasite. According to her philosophy of rational self-interest, which rejects every form of human sacrifice — whether of oneself to others or of others to oneself — every criminal is immoral as he makes his living by snatching, robbing, and stealing, which prohibit the rights of producers by expropriating their property. On the same basis, those who don’t produce anything but earn their living by claiming the power to redistribute the products of others are also immoral, because they are forcing the sacrifice of producers through redistribution: taxes, penalties, confiscation, subsidies, etc.
The significant majority of us are producers. We earn our living either by producing products or by providing services. In order to maintain our abilities to make a living, we must act in accordance with the rules of the marketplace. In doing so, we start accepting them as fundamental principles or rules of behavior for ourselves. For example, we believe that “honesty is the best policy” and follow it, because in a free market we know that in order to maximize our longer term profits, we need to remain as honest as possible. If we practice dishonesty, we will lose the favor and trust of the consumers and fellow producers in the market and that will make it difficult for us to earn a living.
A criminal lives in a different environment. His idea of living is to acquire or rob the property and wealth of others with the least risk of being caught. This will clarify that an aristocrat or despot is the boss of all criminals who works under political protection. He is no better than a pickpocket, however, he enjoys total immunity against being caught by the political system. The first principle that governs the life of the criminal is to never get caught. Unless a criminal is caught, he is in no different a situation — in regards to freedom — than a common man or a politician, and a criminal believes that while sacrificing others and their products for his own living and profits, he is doing nothing immoral: he follows the code of irrational “selfishness”.
The political class enjoys a completely different environment. The basic purpose of a politician is to acquire power over other people, both common men and criminals. The means of a politician making his living is the execution of the monopoly of coercion over others. If a criminal tries to coerce a common man, he is in competition with the politicians, and so if he is caught by the political system, political force will be used to eradicate him. Politics cannot eradicate crime because crime is coercion, which is the primary means by which politicians make a living. We, the common people who are governed by the political class, call it government, and most of us assume that it provides a specific service for our benefit. However, it is not a service. No service in a free society allows a man to execute coercion and gives him the power to regulate others. Every producer in the world of normal men is regulated by the market force of honesty. Either we produce something or provide some service of value to others, or if we fail to do so, we suffer losses.
Government, on the other hand, is free of competition — it prohibits competition by force — and it flourishes not according to the work it does, but in proportion to the power of coercion it exerts on us.
The highest “good” for a politician is control, regulation, and domination over others and this creates the power-complex. The politician believes and asserts that the “law is supreme”, which means that those who make and enforce the law are supreme.
We — the common people — often accept it because we are not directly dependent on the game of power to make our living. Most of us accept that government-owned enterprises like the petroleum ministry or the railways must run efficiently without losses. But efficiency in the government sector is not recognized by profit or loss, it is determined by polls. The government sector has its own “principles” which are meant to help the current politicians in government to stay in power and the current politicians outside government to get in the government. A common man is bound to live honestly and he knows that spending more than one’s income is equal to bankruptcy. However, the government prints the money, so it cannot go bankrupt, and so it will always work dishonestly and spend more than what is produced. That is why it always remains in fiscal deficit. The voter believes that he votes for a progressive policy, the politician knows that his policy doesn’t cause progress, it is just meant to grab votes.
Obviously, the attitude of a politician towards the law — which he creates and has the power to amend any time — is that it is a tool to lure voters and to remain in power. This attitude changes everything and it also explains why a politician is different from a common honest man and how he is also different from a criminal.