by Henry Oliner

I have often heard the voters’ frustration with politics voiced as a call for statesmanship,  but what do we expect from a statesman?  Perhaps we can clarify by examining its opposite.   The opposite of the Statesman is the Political Opportunist.

The Statesman thinks of the next decade and the next century.

The Political Opportunist thinks of the next election.

The Statesman acts from principles gained from careful and thoughtful consideration and study.

The Political Opportunist acts from pragmatism- only what works NOW is important.

The Statesman is attuned to the morality of his actions and decisions.

For the Political Opportunist the ends justify the means.

The Statesman carefully nurtures allies, strengthening relationships even when they are not urgently needed.

For the Political Opportunist allies are commodities that serve or do not serve the situation at hand.

The Statesman understands that a strong nation cannot be built on a society of weak individuals.

The Political Opportunist will subvert individual liberty for the power of the moment.

The Statesman understands that we should not sacrifice a good solution for an unproven perfect solution.

The Political Opportunist is willing to sacrifice an unperfected solution for what often becomes a worse solution or no solution at all.

The Statesman understands coalitions to govern require understanding and recognition of political opposition.

The Political Opportunist will use demonization and populism to ignite a righteous rage against stereotypical straw men, and will subvert rational arguments in their pursuit of power.