To give you a simple definition, a career politician is someone who makes politics his/her main source of his/her income – it’s the bread and butter for the survival of their family, clan, or dependents.
This is the picture of modern Philippine politics wherein the vast majority of those who are currently holding elected posts consider the entry into politics a profitable, lucrative venture.
They even view politics with the concept of ROI or “return-on-investment.” No wonder aspiring leaders are willing to spend huge amount of money during elections because at the back of their minds they anticipate for an ROI if ever they are elected.
Should politics be considered a career? No, it should not be. Because if we look at it that way, the noble and genuine motive of seeking public position is forever lost. To make politics one’s personal career is to defeat the purpose of public service. As we know it, public service is a public trust and it is even a personal choice for a person who believes that he has the skills, education, training and willingness to lead people and initiate positive change in his community.
What will happen when politics become a career by politicians? In other fields of profession, having a professional career is a challenging opportunity since one has to excel all the time, innovate, and improve his skills in order to be recognized among his peers. Being good at what you do is certainly beneficial to the community. In other words, having a career outside politics is indeed commendable.
Not so when politics becomes a career to one. Is it beneficial to society? The obvious answer is no. It is only beneficial to one who makes politics a career. By making politics a source of income, the politician has lost touch with reality. His decision is now motivated by money. He just wants to enrich himself. He wants to accumulate more material possessions at the expense of common good. The very idea of serving people becomes a remote desire of the politician who makes politics a career. In the end, people suffer, as programs and projects, which are intended for the constituents, are being used as channels of personal revenue.
This is precisely the reason a traditional politician (trapo) cannot and will not completely leave politics after the end of their term. Having realized that there is so much money to make out of politics, they become obsessed with staying in power forever which is vital to the survival of their bank accounts. In their minds, they now believe that by staying in politics they don’t have to work hard in order to bring food to the table. In our language, it is aptly called “dawat-limpyo.” How convenient.
If we look at one of the root causes of the poverty of our nation, this can be traced to politicians making politics their sole career. The wealth of the nation no longer goes to the general populace but to the few who are lording over us. What is intended for the people goes to private pockets. Consequently, poverty becomes a cancer, almost impossible to cure using the same brand of political leadership we have today.
If we also look at the seemingly endless political violence that aggravates months before elections, we would come to a palpable conclusion that career politicians are to be blamed for it. Why would a person kill his neighbor if all he wants is to serve the public? Well, a politician kills another politician because he thinks the other guy is a threat to his financial survival, a threat to his bank account. He is afraid that once he is no longer in public office, he could no longer bring food to the table.
So watch out, in our midst, in our province we are infested with career politicians.
Stan Debohol is an expat in the philippines. He enjoys reading philosophy books and tours Asia most of the time.