Loyal troops

Cliches are never neutral: They either let you speak without saying anything or they are a trap that can expose you as you try to hide behind banality. It’s an old habit among party officials, deputies and ministers: When power is shared out, they portray themselves as willing and disciplined troops. They eagerly proclaim they are not motivated by personal ambition but by pure altruism. In light of the looming reshuffle, we have again heard ministers and deputy ministers or would-be ministers portray themselves as ordinary, humble foot soldiers who are ready to accept the decisions of their superiors – whoever these may be. Of course, claiming to be a humble and selfless person does not make you one. Singing one’s own praises in front of the television cameras is not the best way to prove one’s humility. Moreover, many of those who now come across as obedient politicians armed with solidarity and trust in their colleagues (who are their potential rivals as well) have in the past repeatedly accused each other of harboring hidden agendas, of engaging in backstabbing and of creating cliques. Is a smile on TV and a sympathetic statement enough to wipe all the previous machinations out? Finally, it’s not exactly flattering to a democracy that some of its servants are competing to proclaim that they are the most subservient, the most loyal troops, subject to the absolute jurisdiction of the general and his officials, a bit like a tape recorder which is triggered to work only when its master’s voice is playing. There is no question: The «I-am-a-loyal-soldier» statement is cliche. But by uttering it, and giving it a binding character, it’s more likely that you’ll become one of the troops. And such political self-degradation fails to promote the government’s work.

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