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Political Merchants — By Livy-Elcon Emereonye

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Politics is not only a game played by politicians; it is also merchandise for many with different products – goods and services – and the merchants exist in different shapes and sizes at different times and seasons with different mechanics in the conduct of their trade. Politicking is a serious business not meant for the chicken hearted and lily-livered moralists.

Primarily, politics can be perceived as both the art and the act of getting power. It involves “the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status.” It may be used positively in the context of a “political solution” which is compromising and non-violent, or descriptively as “the art or science of government”, but also often carries a negative connotation.” “Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level.”  – Wikipedia
“Political means relating to the way power is achieved and used in the country or society. Someone who is political is interested or involved in politics and holds strong beliefs about it.” (https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/political).  It has been said that human beings are political animals but are all humans really political? Does everyone play politics?

A merchant is a person whose business is buying and selling of products (goods and services) for profit. A merchant can also mean a business that sells directly to the public through a physical office or personal dealings from a store or electronically especially through the internet. There are different types of merchants including political merchants that exist in the world of politics.

Merchandise is goods to be bought or sold and the activities relating to the sale. Writing on merchandising, Adams Hayes penned, “Merchandising is the promotion of goods and/or services that are available for retail use. Merchandising includes the determination of quantities, setting prices for goods and services, creating display designs, developing marketing strategies, and establishing discounts or coupons. More broadly, merchandising may refer to retail sales itself: the provision of goods to end-user consumers (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/merchandising.asp)

Being a thing of interest, common interest, politics entails a lot of intrigues within and outside the framework of a power bloc. In its mechanics, different methods can be deployed which may include promoting one’s own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, lobby, compromise, making laws; exercising force, intimidation, betrayal and even warfare against opponents, adversaries or even fellow comrades with divergent views especially within the political framework of strange bedfellows where there is politics without a common political ideology.
Politics can sometimes be a rough game so playing it without adequate preparation and caution can be dicey and deadly. It is a whole world of permutation where anything and everything can happen any time. People play dirty in politics – and dirty politics kills.

Man is a political animal but real politics is a learned act. The environment one lives as well as the people one interacts with can play important roles in learning the art and the practice of politics.
The consciousness for active politics starts with the desire to bring about change through service but this “service” must be clearly spelt out so as not to mix up selfish service with unselfish people orientated service. It is in the context of service that Political Merchandise and Political Merchant can be clearly defined and understood. This is where moderation can be separated from desperation along the path of civility and criminality. The government vis-à-vis the governed can insulate or stimulate political activism. Bad governance instigates revolution and the result and consequences cannot easily be predicted. But to challenge, and change, the status quo is not easy.
Real politics is capital intensive. Total politics needs wit and tact. It takes intelligence to conceive great ideas that can mold or swing opinion. It takes boldness to brand, push and market political ideology – and this is where political merchants become very useful. A good political merchant must be able to market the politician to the public and get votes for him. However, there are both good and bad merchants.

Politics takes money; it requires funds. While some donate the money, some others manage it and in the process of management one may feed fat on it. The political merchant who can actually be the politician or the political contractor sees politics as a money making venture and every political season is an anticipated season of boom so he can go to any length to beg for money or ask for sponsorship.

There are more intelligent criminals in politics today than ever before – and they can stop at nothing to actualize their gross ambitions and carry on with their activities even when they knew their fate before the exercise. They enjoy the glamour of participation and believe so much in miracles – political miracles as long as the cash flow from the donors is sustained.

In the political arena, political merchandise can be very interesting and engaging. It plays very important roles in politicking and makes the exercise fun. It also sustains the tempo for engagement – and the political merchant turns it into a tool for monetization and protection of business interests.

Political merchandise means products (goods and services) sold by a person at a fund raiser or to the general public for publicity or for the purpose of raising funds to be used in supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination for or election to an elective office, in supporting or opposing the qualification, passage, or defeat of a ballot question, or in supporting or opposing the qualification of a new political party. Such goods include bumper stickers, pins, hats, beverages, literature, or other items necessary to create awareness and woo the electorates. The service angle is interesting and tasking, requiring great intellectual acumen and prowess for efficiency. It must be well organized and timely to be effective.
Some people hide under the cover of politics to become corporate beggars. They target their victims and shamelessly go cap in hand to beg them for money to fund their campaign only for such funds to be siphoned or channeled into other unrelated things entirely. The criminals who have perfected this act and somehow made a fortune from it remain ‘perennial politicians’ with amorphous endless ambition, shifting targets every season.

Politics is a game of intrigues full of sagacity. At the extreme, it is worse than swimming with the shark with the political merchants as speculators and spectators ready to swap positions and share loyalty!

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