[Viewpoint]Voters must keep politicians honest

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[Viewpoint]Voters must keep politicians honest

Mao Zedong said, “Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.”
And Winston Churchill said politics is more dangerous than war. Judging from the fact that politicians who suffer hardships for a long time tend to look fierce, that is not an exaggeration.
But I think politics can be defined differently, depending on the cause people are fighting for.
Whenever they have the chance to talk, politicians claim they are working for the country and the people, but not many people believe what the politicians say.
Oscar Wilde said politicians are people who try to solve problems with words alone.
And George Orwell said political speech was designed “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
The most critical explanations for the politicians’ struggles are in “The Devil’s Dictionary,” written by American author Ambrose Bierce: “Politics is the strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. And politicians are at the helm of the nation for their personal interests.”
They all sound like they are pointing out the problems of the political reality in Korea, where things get more confused and opaque as the presidential election draws closer.
In the political arena nowadays, lies, slander, intrigue, political maneuvering and mud-slinging are rampant.
However, it is not desirable to laugh at politicians, because that will only make politics a caricature.
Politics is a very strict business by nature.
With one minor mistake, one can ruin everything he or she has accomplished through years of hard work.
And it is the people, not the politicians, who suffer.
That is why voters have to weed out the politicians who customarily fan conflicts among people and seek out their personal interests through working behind the scenes.
It is not helpful for us to vote for unqualified politicians.
Consider the biography of George C. Marshall, an American military leader and a sincere politician.
He is a politician who kept true to his original purpose for entering politics.
I strongly recommend reading his biography as a guide to the political future.
As a war hero who fought in both world wars ― World War I and World War II ― Marshall is not as well known as Douglas MacArthur or Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The reason he is less well known is because he is far greater than the others.
The Battle of Normandy is a good example. Marshall, who was the U.S. Army chief of staff, was the military leader who persuaded a hesitant U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to make the decision to carry out the “largest military operation in history.”
He was eager to be in command of the military operation, and no one had more ability and experience than he had.
But the president needed Marshall more for the establishment of a global strategy than a military operation in Europe. Nobody but Marshall could deal with such charismatic leaders as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Chiang Kai-shek and Joseph Stalin.
At that time, Marshall told the president, “What you have to consider is the interest of the nation.”
Eventually, the title of supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe was given to Dwight D. Eisenhower.
No one can deny the fact that Eisenhower became the president of the United States because of his popularity stemming from his success at the Battle of Normandy.
For Marshall, as a military leader, nothing preceded the national interests.
As a politician, too, his beliefs didn’t change.
He declined two good chances to run in the presidential race and serve as secretary of state.
When he was asked to be secretary of defense, after serving as secretary of state, he willingly accepted a lower post in the hierarchy of the government.
He did so out of a belief that he would serve the nation in any post the country needed him.
Dean Acheson, then the secretary of state who once worked under Marshall, was put in an awkward position.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, a Russian writer, said politics is nothing if there is no patriotic love for the fatherland.
We voters must be on alert to guide our politics onto the right path.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Lee Hoon-beom
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