Winning the Political Game: Proper Use of Power

Politicians might not admit it, but one thing that clearly attracts people to politics is POWER.

Policymakers who make, execute and interpret laws and ordinances clearly have power. They wield the awesome coercive power of government. They can take my money, regulate my business, throw me in jail, and even take my life.

So every politician was elected to office with the expectation that he or she would carefully and judiciously wield the power they are entrusted with. 

In his book, The Power Principle, Blaine Lee talks mostly about power in business. But his thoughts also apply to politics. He suggests that "we should never in the slightest violate the unique agency of an individual despite the position we have over them. Whatever power that can be gained through manipulation and control will eventually fail… True power and influence never comes through fear [and] deception…"

He quotes Helen Keller, who eloquently described the impact of a person who leads through honor, not fear and deception: "There are red letter days in our lives when we meet people who thrill us like a fine poem, people whose handshake is a brimful of unspoken sympathy and whose sweet, rich nature imparts to our eager impatient spirits a wonderful restfulness… Perhaps we never saw them before and they may never cross our life's path again; but the influence of their calm, mellow nature is a libation poured out upon our discontent, and we feel its healing touch as the ocean feels the mountain stream freshening its brine…"

In other words, says Lee, "I can buy your hand but not the deepest loyalty and devotion of your heart. I can buy your back but not the finest and most creative thinking of your mind. Loyalty must be earned, not demanded. Power and influence with honor take time and must be earned. We can't keep pulling up the flowers to see how the roots are coming."

Here are some other thoughts about the use of power:

“Being powerful is like being a lady – if you have to tell people you are, you aren't.”

Lady Margaret Thatcher

“The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.”

Baltasar Gracian

“Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it.

Warren Bennis