Of Lawyers and Salesmen by Jörg Friedrich

In politics, society, theory on July 3, 2013 at 17:36

From: Of Lawyers and Salesmen: What’s the difference between a vacuum cleaner salesman and a politician? by Jörg Friedrich, The European,

Within every democracy, a constant fight is being waged between those whose positions are legitimized through democratic elections and the constitutionally established structures of the state, and those who independently introduce moral ideals, local interests or economic aims into the political discourse and into the public sphere. We might even say that the political dynamism of a predominantly democratic society stems from the tensions between those whose power is rooted in procedures and those who seize power by acting publicly. In Egypt, oppositional groups took to the streets to protest against a constitutional referendum that was supported by the country’s democratically elected president. In Germany, citizens’ initiatives protested against large-scale construction projects. In each of these conflicts we can see the tension between legitimated power and the power of so-called civil society.

Among the citizens of democratic states, a deep sense of mistrust of political representatives has taken hold. Several years ago I saw the following caricature: two travelers faced each other on a train. “I am a vacuum cleaner salesman,” said the first. “I sell vacuum cleaners.” To which the second replied: “I am a politician. I sell out the people.” This little imagined conversation illustrates the uneasy relationship of many voters with the political machine.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: The European


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