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Democracy Produces the Best Politicians

September 29, 2010

After reading Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and Michael Walzer’s “Political Action” I have come to the conclusion that there are numerous dimensions and priorities that a politician must posses in order to achieve success for himself and the state. The idea that Machiavelli expresses in his writing is the belief that the ends justify the means. Therefore, a politician will be successful by not making decisions based on their morals, but instead based on what actions, whether just or not, will most directly, quickly, and easily lead to the end product of glory, which he explains is respect earned as a result of achieving the good of the state. He claims that a politician’s primary objective should be to achieve the best possible conditions for his/her state and its citizens. This Machiavellian ideology says that politicians must never consider morals or emotions when making decisions and should just focus on achieving glory, which means a politician must not feel guilty for his actions or worry about any injustices they have committed as long as these actions were done in order to achieve the best interest of the state.

This Machiavellian belief that politicians must do anything in their will for the best interest of the state is also stated in Michael Walzer’s “Political Action”, however the difference between these two authors is the factoring in of morals into the decision-making process. Walzer states that a good politician should have good morals, but have the strength to make decisions that he knows to be immoral in order to serve in the best interest of the state. However, he then states that “the crimes of Weber’s tragic hero are limited only by his capacity for suffering and not, as they should be, by our capacity for suffering.” This states that politician’s should be held under the same strict rules that guide citizens in order to make them think very carefully before making immoral or unlawful decisions to determine if these acts are the best route to achieving the best interest of the state.

I believe Walzer’s ideas are the best way to produce a breed of politicians that have good morals, but have the ability to make immoral decisions when, after careful calculations, they have concluded that these actions are the best way to promote the greater good of the state and its citizens. This is the basis of our system of government today in the United States. Voters have the ability to control how “dirty” the hands of politicians can become because politicians must always worry about approval ratings and reelections so when faced with a difficult situation they make as much calculations as possible to ensure that any morally unjust decision they might make is the best way possible to create the most beneficial result for the state and its citizens.

This was the case when George W. Bush chose to invade Iraq and, although he was reelected to a second term, his approval rating were lowered and he was given a lot of bad press during his second term in office. Therefore, I conclude that a good politician is a product of his/her own morals, intelligence, and the government in which they are involved in. The best way to produce this consistent breed of successful yet moral politicians is to have a democratic system of government whose citizens attempt to elect representatives that get their “hands dirty” only when necessary and punish those who do not meet these expectations through means such as bad press coverage, not voting for the official, and impeachment.

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