|Names||Congressman, chancellor, MP, mayor, premier, President, Prime minister, senator, governor, secretary, minister, Dictator|
|Law, law enforcement, business, journalism, public relations, diplomacy, management, military|
|Only a fair and proper election to office is necessary, although formal education is highly recommended.|
|Courts, government, legal aid, military|
|Judge, Attorney, Business, Journalist, Spokesperson, Manager|
A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking an office in government. Politicians propose, support, and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution or organization.
Politicians are people who are politically active, especially in party politics. Positions range from local offices to executive, legislative, and judicial offices of regional and national governments. Some elected law enforcement officers, such as sheriffs, are considered politicians.
Politicians are known for their rhetoric, as in speeches or campaign advertisements. They are especially known for using common themes that allow them to develop their political positions in terms familiar to the voters. Politicians of necessity become expert users of the media. Politicians in the 19th century made heavy use of newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets, as well as posters. In the 20th century, they branched into radio and television, making television commercials the single most expensive part of an election campaign. In the 21st century, they have become increasingly involved with the social media based on the Internet and smartphones.
Once elected, the politician becomes a government official and has to deal with a permanent bureaucracy of non-politicians. Historically, there has been a subtle conflict between the long-term goals of each side. In patronage-based systems, such as the United States and Canada in the 19th century, winning politicians replace the bureaucracy with local politicians who formed their base of support, the "spoils system". Civil service reform was initiated to eliminate the corruption of government services that were involved. However, in many less developed countries, the spoils system is in full-scale operation today.
Mattozzi and Merlo argue that two main career paths are typically followed by politicians in modern democracies. First, come the career politicians. They are politicians who work in the political sector until retirement. Second, are the "political careerists". These are politicians who gain a reputation for expertise in controlling certain bureaucracies, then leave politics for a well-paid career in the private sector making use of their political contacts.
The personal histories of politicians have been frequently studied, as it is presumed that their experiences and characteristics shape their beliefs and behaviors. There are four pathways by which a politician's biography could influence their leadership style and abilities. The first is that biography may influence one's core beliefs, which are used to shape a worldview. The second is that politicians' skills and competence are influenced by personal experience. The areas of skill and competence can define where they devote resources and attention as a leader. The third pathway is that biographical attributes may define and shape political incentives. A leader's previous profession, for example, could be viewed as of higher importance, causing a disproportionate investment of leadership resources to ensure the growth and health of that profession, including former colleagues. Other examples besides profession include the politician's innate characteristics, such as race or gender. The fourth pathway is how a politician's biography affects their public perception, which can, in turn, affect their leadership style. Female politicians, for example, may use different strategies to attract the same level of respect given to male politicians.
Numerous scholars have studied the characteristics of politicians, comparing those at the local and national levels, and comparing the more liberal or the more conservative ones, and comparing the more successful and less successful in terms of elections. In recent years, special attention has focused on the distinctive career path of women politicians. For example, there are studies of the "Supermadre" model in Latin American politics.
Many politicians have the knack to remember thousands of names and faces and recall personal anecdotes about their constituents--it is an advantage in the job, rather like being seven-foot tall for a basketball player. United States Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were renowned for their memories.
Many critics attack politicians for being out of touch with the public. Areas of friction include how politicians speak, which has been described as being overly formal and filled with many euphemistic and metaphorical expressions and commonly perceived as an attempt to "obscure, mislead, and confuse".
In the popular image, politicians are thought of as clueless, selfish, manipulators, liars, incompetents, and corrupt, taking money in exchange for goods or services, rather than working for the general public good. Politicians in many countries are regarded as the "most hated professionals".