Thursday, April 12, 2007

So, why do it?

Given the downside to public life, as outlined in my earlier post, why do folks choose to run and run again? I mean there's clearly no shortage of candidates. I spent part of yesterday evening at an event with the various Liberal candidates for Ottawa Centre. Six candidates running for two nominations, all eager to step up and serve.

Having spent no small amount of time with various politicians and would-be politicians, it's been my experience that most of them are driven by one or both of these two things:

  1. Desire to effect change
  2. Ego
You don't have to have both to get elected, but I'll argue you need them both to be effective over the long term. The extrinsic rewards of politics primarily gratify the ego – masses of volunteers campaign workers, victory parties, parliamentary privilege. Change is harder to come by and the failures far outnumber the successes. It takes a powerful belief in the process to compensate for a shortage of ego.

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