David R. Henderson  

The Corruption of Politics

For the Separation of Stadium ... Statistical Significance is No...

Various people have commented on the leaked emails of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. In them, he made candid comments about various major politicians whom he knows and interacted with. Here's the one about Hillary Clinton I found most interesting:

"I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect," Powell wrote. "A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational,

I cut off the last part because it's about her husband, not Hillary Clinton.

What I found most interesting was the combination of avowed friendship and disdain. On the one hand "she is a friend." On the other hand, she has "unbridled ambition" and is "greedy."

I saw that a lot when I worked in Washington. People would be friends with others whom they disdained. I think it's the corrupting influence of politics.

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CATEGORIES: Public Choice Theory

COMMENTS (4 to date)
Thomas Nagle writes:

While I agree that politics is corrupting, "unbridled ambition" and "greed" are hadly more prevalent in politics than many other areas of our society. I think one would be hard pressed to find friends in the financial industry, in many areas of the law, in natural resource development (to name a few) if one were to exclude those who had "unbridled ambition" and were "greedy". In many professions OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT, those are characteristics admired, not disdained.

I have wondered about the category of "friend". In many of my experiences, some larger process of life has tossed me together with another person in a situation where the two of us find we can cooperate agreeably. But many of my friends have been different from me, with difference so stark that my liking of this strange person comes as a surprise. So friends are not selected in real life, I claim, as friends might be selected in a social network — with similarity expected on all major issues.

I also find that friendships can break and end. The two are driven by their deeper, individual life directions. These directions were different before the chance meeting, and remain different after the end of the larger process which pushed the two together.

Greg G writes:

Being able to maintain respect and friendship with someone while maintaining a clear eyed awareness of their faults is not a form of corruption. It is something people should aspire to.

The corrupting effect of politics is that it makes this harder to do. I think you have this one exactly backwards David.

Powell makes it clear here that offering someone his friendship and respect does not mean necessarily mean offering them his vote. He is saying that depends on what the alternatives are. That is as it should be. The trend towards people only offering friendship and respect to those they agree with politically is not a healthy one.

Alex writes:

No person is flawless. When I judge a person I weight the good and the bad, and if the net is positive then I keep him on my address book.

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