There is a story, perhaps apocryphal but I doubt it, that former House Speaker, Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, when asked what he missed most about holding elected office, replied with two words, “The power.”
This is what politics is all about. Power. That is how friends are rewarded, enemies punished.
So whenever some politician talks about “public service”, I immediately know he or she is lying. How many politicians go to City Hall, the State House, or Congress with the intention of putting limits on their power? Very few, I fancy.
And human behavior has changed very little since 1787, when those much-maligned “dead white men” outlined a model for governance that defined, delineated, and limited the power of government.
Fool proof, almost. Except for the money part. Limited government meant the economy could and would grow independently of the hand and control of government. Then the politicians discovered that not only could they tax an always resistant populace, but they could borrow from unbelievably wealthy individuals and banks and distribute this largesse through contracts, grants, and handouts to corporations, institutions, and individuals. The rich liked the interest income and relative safety of the loans.The politicians could buy loyalty and with that loyalty purchased with government funds came power. Power became entrenched. Robert Byrd (D-WV) made sure federal money went to West Virginia and West Virginians kept re-electing him.
The trick, for the politician, is to make one’s self look noble while doing this. The politician is merely “addressing the needs of his constituents”. Yep. You betcha. In Virginia, for example, the politicians are strong advocates for national defense. This keeps people in the Tidewater area and the DC suburbs employed and more than a few get rich. After all, we need national defense. And they keep voting for incumbents.
It also helps to buy off the artists, writers, performers, composers, and actors, under the public-spirited heading of “funding for the Arts”. It worked for Roosevelt in the New Deal. The artist types want to be in the vanguard, so they sell their integrity to be allied with “progressive” politicians.
Anybody who comes along wanting to disturb this dynamic will be vilified.
That’s all I am going to say.