The World Book Dictionary definition of a politician is “A person who gives much time to political affairs; a person who is experienced in politics.” On the other hand a statesman is defined as “A person who is skilled in the management of public or national affairs.” The difference in definitions is understated, but the difference in practice is enormous.
To use a game of football analogy, both Sam Arday (former coach of Feyenoord) and David Duncan (former coach of Hearts of Oak) were experienced coaches, and they devoted a great deal of time to their profession. Using the criteria for a politician, Arday and Duncan were equals. Although a politician is described as “experienced,” a statesman is described as “skilled.” But do we have skilled coaches?
From look of events, we are going through a desiccation of Statesmen and an overflow or a flood of Politicians. It is like a meal full of calories with almost no nutritional regime. Statesmen are like vegetables. Many people don’t like them, but they are good for you.
Politicians on other hand are like ice cream. Mouthwatering and appetizing. In a hurry to whet our cravens, we postpone the consequences. I will worry about the stomach ache later.
Professor Kofi Agyekum of Legon, admonishment for each one of us has been that, we should be mindful of the paltry gifts received during electioneering period, as compared to the 4 years anguish one have to endure, when we sell our conscience to the Politician.
The founders of this nation were not wholly politicians. Many, like Pa Grant and a few others had no political experience when they were elected to serve in the Parliament. Experience, no. All the same they had education, ideas, and conviction. They gave us what was supposed to give us liberty and a skillfully worked out structure for our self-governance.
Let?s keep elementary definitions to the side, is there a distinction between a Statesman and a Politician? There is a vast difference. A Politician works with details. A Statesman works with ideas. A politician debates over whether to raise the minimum wage by 50 pesewas instead of by 40 pesewas. A Statesman, on the other hand, asks “If the government has the power to dictate the least I can make, don’t they also have the power to dictate the most I can make?”
A Politician debates the cost of a plan. The Statesmen question the wisdom of the plan. A Politician tells his constituents what he did for them. A Statesman does not worry about what he can do for his constituents, because he is very concern is trying to guarantee a future for his constituent’s grandchildren.
A politician follows the crowd. He lives and dies with his finger in the wind. Politicians care for the image of leadership, but in reality they wait to declare a position, until they see which is the most likely to get them re-elected.
It was Woodrow Wilson who once said, “If you think too much about being re-elected, it is very difficult to be worth re-electing.”
A Statesman leads. A Statesman does not bow to the screeching and wailing that often passes for opposition. The Statesman follows the path blazed by others, who said “Always stand on principle even if you stand alone,” and by many who lives by one rule: “Be sure you are right and then go ahead.”
I suppose that politicians are like hornets and mosquitoes. We may never understand why we have to endure them, but they, like the poor, will always be with us. Statesmen are almost like dinosaurs though, doomed for extinction if not already extinct. The small (and small minded) survive and thrive, while the great and noble go by the wayside.
Our unique nation was founded by Statesmen. Men of noble, though not perfect character. They were ?Men? who clutched to principle and ideology in such great reverence that, no threat of pain or death could deter them from their dream of a constitutional republic guaranteeing freedom and justice for all. Such leaders are necessary to preserve that dream. But we don’t seem interested in freedom and justice for all. We seem more interested in handouts, hampers and paychecks for all, regardless of who might have to foot the bill.
Comparable to many in the field of arts, the Greek playwright Euripides addressed social and political issues in his work. He theorized that people get the government that they deserve. Euripides was right. We don’t want leaders, we want nannies. We may grumble, object, moan and complain about politicians, but we continue to ensure their survival. All they have to do is tell us what we want to hear, promise to “bring the money home” from Accra or Flagstaff House, and remember our names the next time they see us.
The wrong impressions we hold onto always is, we think we strike a hard bargain for our votes. But what is a few billion in pay raise and SADA projects to an ambitious candidate?
Statesmen earn votes, politicians buy them. After all, Johnson Asiedu Nketia said it best: “That most delicious of all privileges — spending other people’s money, Kwasia Bi Nti.”