What makes a leader in politics? A leader is someone who represents a set of ideas that endears him or her to the electorate to the extent that the latter elects him or her into office. Unlike corporate leaders who work towards the achievement of their firm’s goals, political leaders are driven by the desires of the electorate. However, this does not mean that politicians have no principles with regard to political issues. In contrast, successful politicians are known to take firm stands on issues affecting their electorate, which plays a key role in making them stand out from competitors. However, it is worth noting that there are instances where public opinion goes against politicians’ principles, forcing some to yield to pressure with others holding their positions. The latter often risk losing their seats through impeachment, lose subsequent elections, or even resign to preserve their beliefs. The circumstances notwithstanding, political leaders should not change their principles despite opposing public opinion as doing so would put their person into question, effectively betraying the trust the public bestowed upon them, and make politics lose meaning.
People normally elect politicians into office because they believe the latter’s principles and goals resonate with theirs, making it untenable for politicians to abandon their principles as that would amount to betraying the will of the greater public. While one would argue that leaders serve their subjects and should, therefore, anticipate changes in public opinions, good leaders out to be principled enough to reject what they do not believe in. Furthermore, electorates are always aware of their leaders’ opinions on key issues before sending them into office, making it highly unlikely that the very people that voted for them make a sudden change that requires them to abandon their principles.
On the contrary, such demands often come from groups that are not representative of the larger community. Thus, it is imperative that leaders stick to their principles to the letter if they are to retain authenticity and avoid betraying the trust of the masses that put them into office. In the undesirable event that public opinion puts them in an awkward position with regard to their person, political leaders have the option to resign with their principles intact.
Politics is a competitive process that would lose meaning if political leaders were to change their principles due to pressure from the public. The very nature of politics is such that there are always winners and losers in any contest, with those who emerge victorious getting to implement their policies. It is worth noting that politicians’ beliefs and opinions normally influence their policies. Thus, putting elected leaders under so much pressure that they change their principles and objectives amounts to sabotaging their leadership, an approach that they should fight at all costs.
Once a leader diverts from his or her goals, he or she stands a high chance of losing interest in the implementation of resultant policies, which could stifle public projects and policies. Furthermore, such leaders cannot be held liable for failures emanating from their decision to conform to public opinion. This could put public resources at risk. Thus, elected leaders should implement their manifestos with little consideration for undue public pressure by virtue of the fact that their election into office gives them the right to do so.
There is a school of thought that argues that politicians should be ready to abandon their principles and objectives altogether for the sake of compromise. However, it is important to note that politics is in itself a game that comprises conflicting viewpoints and opinions. Political opponents often go head to head against each other in political contests that see no compromises whatsoever. Therefore, it is not only undemocratic but also illogical to ask politicians to abandon principles or goals that got them into office in the first place. Instead, those seeking compromises should lobby like-minded voters and organizations to make sure that they get the numbers they need to elect someone who shares in their visions in subsequent elections.
Politicians should not abandon their principles and goals in view of public opinion. Instead, they should remain steadfast to avoid betraying the wishes of the majority that voted them into office. Moreover, sticking to one’s objectives gives them a sense of legitimacy, which is key to effective leadership. Further, yielding to public pressure to the extent of acting against one’s principles would put the idea of politics into question as politicians are always subjected to scrutiny and given the go-ahead to implement their promises through elections. Thus, it is vital that elected leaders get to implement policies that are informed by their principles and objectives without undue pressure from quarters with opposing worldviews. After all, one can only have one leader at a time.