A politician is a person seeking or holding an office in local, state or federal governments. They propose, create and support laws or policies that govern the people in their jurisdiction, and seek to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.
Politicians are known for their rhetoric, and for using common themes that allow them to develop their political positions in terms familiar to their voters. They, of necessity, become expert users of all forms of media. In the 19th century, they made heavy use of newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets, as well as posters. In the 20th century, they branched into radio, television and social media, 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.
Rumor has always played a major role in politics, with negative rumors about an opponent typically more effective than positive rumors about one's own side. Once elected, they become a government official and have 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 U.S., winning politicians often try to replace the bureaucracy with local politicians who formed their base of support, known as the "spoils system". Civil service reforms are contantly trying to eliminate this activity.
Although not universally true, some politicians are criticized for being out of touch with the public. This is based on how they speak, which has been described as being overly formal and filled with many euphemistic and metaphorical expressions, commonly perceived as an attempt to "obscure, mislead, and confuse" the listener. Some are also considered liars and manipulators, taking personal benefits rather than working for the public good--or supporting others who do.
(Top) Painting by Philipp Foltz of Pericles, an eminent Athenian politician, speaking at a public funeral for those who died in war, c.431 BCE. (Bottom) Meeting of contemporary politicians, from l-r: Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon, VP-Designate Gerald Ford and Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, Jr., October 13, 1973.