OPINION

Cash and politics

Since their very creation, political parties have been inexorably tied to money. That’s an unquestioned fact, not scandalmongering. Not all politicians are the same, of course. More importantly, not all of them are the amoral and self-interested characters portrayed in the blanket generalizations of the evangelists of a crude populism, who are keen to talk in the name of the common people with whom they have absolutely nothing in common. There are differences and variable degrees of resistance; there are people who become politicians because of a genuine urge to serve the public good and not because they are driven by a lust for power or by a will to make a fortune by exploiting their office. The question is whether we need such politicians, and whether we honor them so that they can flourish as a kind. As a rule, we all agree that Greece needs such politicians. However, as individuals, as members of factions or pressure groups, what sort of politician do we identify with? Whom do we trust? Whom do we see as our ally? Do we prefer a retiring figure or a wordy demagogue? An inconspicuous or a flamboyant personality? Do we prefer the one who opts for the straight and narrow to the scam-merchant who knows all the loopholes? The politician who is against political favors or the one who is in favor? And whom do we look up to as a role model? The one who swiftly climbs up the social ladder – even if by jettisoning some of his moral principles – or the more restrained one? Just like our politicians, we, the citizens, differ in our judgment, morality and pet paradigms. But both at the base and at the top of the pyramid, the pace is set by the shrewd among us, and not by those who are scorned as «losers.» And hence there are 10,000 people who cry that «everyone is taking bribes» and 10 million people who exempt themselves from the charge.