Template:Wiktionary Template:Politics A politician or political leader (from Greek "polis") is an individual who is involved in influencing public decision making. This includes people who hold decision-making positions in government, and people who seek those positions, whether by means of election, coup d'état, appointment, electoral fraud, conquest, right of inheritance (see also: divine right) or other means. Politics is not limited to governance through public office. Political offices may also be held in corporations, and other entities that are governed by self-defined political processes.
Considered a politician
- In a state, a member of the executive branch of government, or the office of Head of State, as well as the legislative branch, and regional and local levels of government.
- Any person influencing group opinions in his or her favor can be termed a politician. For example, a worker participating in office politics is a politician, but only so far as the operations of his or her workplace are concerned.
- Some law enforcement officers, such as sheriffs, and many judges who are elected or appointed because of their political views or popularity.
- To be a politician you must share some of the same views as the public
Not considered a politician
- Members of government who serve purely functional roles, such as bureaucrats.
- Members of the judicial branch, law enforcement, and the military are not usually regarded as being politicians since they are generally executing or adjudicating established law and custom.
- Ordinary citizens with the power to vote cannot properly be called politicians even though they can participate in group decision-making. A politician participates in public debate that leads to a group decision being reached, while a voter is simply responding to that debate.
Public Choice Theory
Public Choice Theory involves the use of modern economic tools to study problems that are traditionally in the province of political science. (A more general term is 'political economy', an earlier name for 'economics' that evokes its practical and theoretical origins but should not be mistaken for the Marxian use of the same term.)
In particular, it studies the behavior of voters, politicians, and government officials as (mostly) self-interested agents and their interactions in the social system either as such or under alternative constitutional rules. These can be represented a number of ways, including standard constrained utility maximization, game theory, or decision theory. Public choice analysis has roots in positive analysis ("what is") but is often used for normative purposes ("what ought to be"), to identify a problem or suggest how a system could be improved by changes in constitutional rules.  A key formulation of public choice theory is in terms of rational choice, the agent-based proportioning of scarce means to given ends. An overlapping formulation with a different focus is positive political theory. Another related field is social choice theory.
There are also Austrian variants of public choice theory (suggested by Mises, Hayek, Kirzner, Lopez, and Boettke) in which it is assumed that bureaucrats and politicians are benevolent but have access to limited information.
Criticism of politicians
Politicians can also be criticized for becoming "career politicians." A politician who makes politics the source of their income, yet has to face re-election every few years can be less likely to make bold decisions or side with an unpopular bill. Some feel that fear of "rocking the boat" leads to a stagnant political climate, in which it becomes hard to address injustices and create change. Various measures have been taken in attempt to mitigate this effect, such as the implementation of term limits and paying them less.
Professor Paul Finn has argued that “the most fundamental fiduciary relationship in our society is manifestly that which exists between the community (the people) and the state, its agencies and officials."
Many[who?] suggest the basic problem of stopping Human Rights violations and political negligence stems from the lack of understanding by media and politicians of the laws of fiduciary control. In equity, fiduciary control suggests obligations that not only include duties of good faith and loyalty, but also include duties of skill and competence in managing the people's interests. After all, Government is a trust structure created by people to manage certain services within society with the politicians depended on by the people to do that task. Therefore the relationship between government and its politicians and the governed is clearly a fiduciary one.
Rules such as Sovereign Immunity and Crown and Judicial Immunity are now being targeted as the very tools of oppression that are preventing victims from taking action against the people controlling the country who are causing the failure of care. Originating from within the Courts of Equity, the fiduciary concept was partly designed to prevent those holding positions of power from abusing their authority.
This way of thinking suggests anyone accepting any political or government control over the interests of people should be judged by the most exacting fiduciary standards given politicians are the most important fiduciaries in any society given they hold coercive power over the people. The fiduciary relationship arises from the government and its politicians ability to control people with the exercise of that power. In effect the argument is, if politicians have the power to abolish or ignore any rights they should be burdened with the fiduciary duty to protect people's rights because the government (or others engaging politicians on their behalf) would benefit from the exercise of discretion to extinguish rights which it alone had the power to dispose of.
- List of Canadian senators
- List of Members of the Canadian House of Commons
- List of richest American politicians
- United States Politicians with Doctorates
- Tullock, 1987, pp. 1040–41
- Bureaucracy, Mises
- Welch, Susan, John Gruhl, John Comer, and Susan M. Rigdon. Understanding American Government. 8th ed. Belmont, USA: Thompson Wadsworth, 2006
- "Merriam Webster Online Dictionary" Definition of politician 5 June 2006
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