OPINION

The dizzy heights of power

I’ve seen it happen before in the first days of a new government. People become mesmerized by how far they have come and often forget that in politics the peak is never far from the precipice. The country’s recent political history is rife with examples of people who, justly and often unjustly, went from very high to very low without knowing what happened. What these people came to know was how ephemeral the upside of clientelism can be and how brief the illusion that they would stay there, in the embrace of the Athenian pseudo status quo. Experience has shown us that these «friendships» and «alliances» are nothing more than a short-term contract. A veteran politician once said: «It is normal to become inebriated with power in the first few days. Everyone roars with laughter at your stalest joke, everyone thinks you’re God, everyone wants to be your friend and sit at the same table as you. But if you make the mistake to take all this, and even more so yourself, seriously, it is a certainty that you will not have a good political end.» We must, of course, acknowledge the fact that neither the outgoing nor incoming prime minister suffer from any delusions of grandeur, maybe because they come from dynasties that have experienced both the oases and deserts of politics. The former felt more comfortable driving around alone without guards and hanging out with simple folk in Rafina, while the latter invariably scores points with his almost «American» courtesy and simplicity. If only they set the example for those who have been stung by the arrogance of power. Politics is a pressure cooker that can bring out the best and the worst in people. Nothing can prepare them for the crises they will be called upon to handle, for the intrigues, backstabbing and beheadings that are part and parcel of life in every corridor of power. And if they feel they need a friend, well they’d best get a dog, as one friend, who found himself in the eye of a political storm, once said.