Understanding Our Politicians by the Stages

We used to talk about political seasons; but it seems now as though the political season never ends! So let’s take a non-partisan look at the players who—for better or worse— make this possible. After all, we are only one week away from an off-year general election and a year away from the one that may be the most important election of our lifetime.

Politicians present us with one of the best examples of “stage diversity”. Most of us who follow politics could name at least one national or local politician (past or present) that they associate with each of the seven stages. Moreover, most politicians have career-related hooks in nearly all of the stages. Love them or hate them, that’s what makes politicians such compelling figures. So use this “handy guide” as a way of recognizing what drives the ones you are thinking about; and, most importantly, be open to using it as a factor in making your decision.

Here’s a look at what drives politicians by the stages:

  • Stage Seven―Would not concern himself/herself with being re-elected, being popular, or being anything for that matter … It’s only the cause(s) that they seek or are in office to take on and the problems they hear a calling to resolve, for the good of their constituency (and beyond) that’s important to them … Has no hidden agendas … Says and believes the same things in private as in public … Is humbled by the sense of duty that comes with their position and the opportunity to serve … Cares about and is focused on the world he/she leaves behind.
  • Stage Six―Loves public policy and focuses on doing the work exceptionally well that each aspect of it requires … May even truly enjoy the challenge of an election campaign and the opportunity to inspire others by getting out their message.
  • Stage Five―It’s a job that provides power, contacts, and perhaps a social circle that he or she may otherwise have no access to, but is not yet a calling. Thus, it’s still about them, not the people they serve.
  • Stage Four―The most gratifying part of the job is the prestige that comes with it … Being liked and admired by constituents and others who are impressed by the office held … Stage Four politicians are governed by polls and often obsessed with their own popularity or lack thereof … They will tend to see their role and position as more of an honor (being in office) than a duty (to deliver on promises, for example).
  • Stage Three―They see themselves as ruling rather than serving their constituencies. In extreme cases, they would have no problem even supporting the principles of an authoritarian or totalitarian dictatorship, were they in that kind of system or society … In addition, extreme left- and right-wingers, for example, and their often staunch and toady-like―sometimes idol worshipping―followers who never go beyond ideological dictums to carve out positions, are generally operating out of Stage Three. Talking points are considered sacred and never to be challenged.
  • Stage Two―A politician who is out for whatever he or she can get away with and/or steal in the way of money, power, and favors … Uses charisma to deceive … Will say or do anything necessary to get into office and hold on to power, often through deception and demagoguery.
  • Stage One―To the extent that an opportunity for a One in this field exists, it would be a very low-level situation in which  the government is seen as an undemanding and unlimited resource to fulfill personal and security needs (for example, patronage and “no-show” jobs they consider “entitled to”).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the people we elected to serve us were operating out of Stages Six and Seven? Right now, that seems like a pipe dream; but let’s hope the pendulum starts swinging in the right direction.  I will have a lot more to say about this, as the big election gets closer.