Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Yes to One and No to Two

There has been much talk and use of the word 'politician' recently:  Who is one?  Who isn't one?  Is being one like having an incurable disease?  Is talking to one hazardous to your health?  You know what I mean.

I finally decided to look up the Merriam-Webster definition of same.  It is cited thus:

1 : a person experienced in the art or science of government; especially: one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government

2 a : a person engaged in party politics as a profession; b : a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons
Hmmm.  Looks like maybe we are describing two different people.  Certainly many non-elected people would find themselves in the position of politician by definition 1, though many would refer to them as 'bureaucrats'.  I know many, many highly qualified and dedicated government workers.  I would never refer to them as politicians or bureaucrats.  They are the workers you usually don't read or hear about.
I would guess that the majority of people think of 'politician' as the second definition.  And probably have a negative connotation of the word.
When asked my profession prior to retiring, I always said 'Treasurer'.  I never told anyone I was elected unless asked.  Several times when I told someone I was elected, they said they were surprised as I seemed to know what I was talking about when it came to financial matters.  (I did say 'negative connotation'.)
It is unfortunate that the 'politicians' who fit that second definition are the ones that most people think of when they hear the word.  And those 'politicians' usually have only themselves to blame for the negative view.

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