Politicians do not have the luxury of explaining away the inconsistencies between what they preach and what they do.
We manage to live with ourselves because our ego is great at pretending to ourselves that we are consistent, capable, and rational. An effect called cognitive dissonance subconsciously invents creative reasons why we do or think things that are different from our conscious picture of ourselves.
Now imagine that your job is to espouse ideas. You are a politician These ideas will be closely linked to how you think the world should be. They will in turn be closely linked to how you think you act to make such a world possible.
Your ideas are recorded or observed by many other people. You make speeches. Appear on television. Talk to many people.
Your ideas appear to be listened to, or at least talked about. The more interesting your ideas, the more you are talked about. So you become more specific. You begin criticising people for having different ideas.
You begin to espouse these ideas more widely and more forcibly. It’s your duty to tell other people about these ideas. You need the resources to get the ideas out.
Before long the idealism for your nation and about yourself becomes a crusade.
But you never stopped being human. It is likely that there is something you do, or have become while on your crusade, which does not match the person you think you are, or the type of world you argue for.
Hence, Len Brown was able to have an affair and use a lot of his work time to indulge it, despite claims to dedicate his life to Auckland and to family.
Hence, Ed Miliband used limos and expensive hotels to travel the UK arguing against the wealthy and misuse of taxpayer money.
Ghandi ostensibly lived the life he espoused or move out of the life that his electorate lived. He may or may not have done – I don’t know. But our admiration for his persona demonstrates how unique it is for any of us not to be altered by politics.
The lesson for politicians is not to believe your ideas so much that your duty to pursue them outweighs your duty to live by them.