My Member of Parliament surprised me a couple of years ago when he told the crowd assembled before him that he “wanted to represent his constituents.” How many MPs want to represent their constituents these days? It is actually what they’re supposed to do, but how many of them actually do it?
My impression, these days, is that politicians increasingly represent only themselves. They have their own long list of things they want done, and representing their constituents is pretty much the last thing they want to do. What they really want is power: power over other people. They want to get their hands on the levers of power. They’re power-hungry. And in many cases power-mad.
Tobacco Control is the shameless exertion of power over other people. And there is no limit to the power that they seek over other people. Once they’ve got one bit of power – the power of indoor smoking bans – they start looking for extensions of that power, and start pressing for outdoor smoking bans, beach smoking bans, park smoking bans, hospital smoking bans, They can never get enough power over other people.
In the comments yesterday, Joe L drew attention to the accusations of sexual harassment levelled at Stanton Glantz and Tom Frieden. Isn’t sexual harassment simply another expression of power over other people? And if your life is devoted to exerting power over other people with smoking bans and other instruments, isn’t it likely that you’ll exert power over them sexually as well? These people can never get enough power.
And perhaps another expression of this lust for power is in paedophilia, which seems to be a sort of modern epidemic. Children are the easiest people to gain power over. And perhaps that power finds sexual expression as well. Perhaps when people become over-powerful, there is always sexual harassment and paedophilia and worse.
I can only think that this sort of lust for power is a sort of disorder, and maybe one which manifests itself when people find themselves in positions of power, as when they are eventually promoted to positions of management in one organisation or other, be it in politics or industry or church or military. Once you’ve been enthroned as a big shot in any of these organisations, and discover the many little perks that come with power (e.g. a bigger desk), you perhaps start trying to climb higher, and set out to win an even bigger throne and bigger crown and bigger mace of office (and bigger desk). And at the same time your sense of self-importance mounts higher and higher. And you also feel entitled to the power that you exert. And you get more and more arrogant and bullying and overbearing. And you spend more and more of your time scheming how to overthrow anyone above you, and suppress anyone below you.
I’m just guessing. I’ve never occupied any senior position in any organisation. I’ve never had a big desk, or a private secretary, or a chauffeur-driven limo. It’s simply that I can imagine that once you’ve got these things, you can easily start wanting more and more of them, just as if they were addictive drugs.
In the end, I suspect that if too much power gets concentrated anywhere, it meets mounting resistance, and is ultimately overthrown. And such will be the fate of the despots in Tobacco Control.