Motherhood used to be the hardest job in the world. Now it’s being a politician in a modern democracy. Their power has waned as that of corporations and lobbyists and special interest groups has waxed, but they are still blamed for everything and subjected to merciless ridicule. Worse, they are accused of dishonesty, usually not with malice but which a casual assumption that the words ‘politician’ and ‘liar’ are pretty much interchangeable.

This is both unfair and dangerous. It’s unfair because the job of a politician is to find ways to make everyone feel that their opinions have been respected and their interests served. This is impossible without saying things that are, at the very least, misleading.

And it’s dangerous because if someone is accused of an offence often enough they will start to think, “Well, if everyone thinks I’m guilty of this terrible thing I might as well be guilty of it!” Let’s call this the Suspected Spouse Syndrome. Are we training our politicians to behave dishonestly, just by letting them know that we expect it?

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