1) An Educated Public:
Fact: Politicians to create their power base need two things 1) identification for themselves 2) emotional engagement with public. By dividing people on basis of religion/caste/geography etc they create identity situations. By creating an in-group and a hostile out-group against whom a war cry can be given, they create emotional engagement.
Problem: With an educated public, propaganda is very hard to do. If public can spot the trick of false definition or effort to stir up of their fear, those manipulations stop to work. It is like a magician losing his effect whose sleights are exposed.
Conclusion: A public which is alive and aware, forces a politician to be a statesman.
2) A Free Media
Fact: A politician needs to control the ongoing narrative. Also they need to distract public from real issues and give them something irrelevant to chew upon.
Problem: A free media is a public watchdog. It will highlight issues which public needs to be aware of and will direct discussions around policy. This will put any politician on defensive and in a reactive mode to daily news cycles.
Conclusion: A politician who cannot control the media is in effect a page 3 celebrity.
3) An Impartial Justice System
Fact: The underbelly of any political system has intrigue, corruption, sleaze and lawlessness embedded in it. Every episode of the game of thrones is necessarily bloody.
Problem: Any society which carries an effective rule of law is a just society. In a just society a politician will forever be scared of justice catching up with them.
Conclusion: The difference between an ordinary politician and a jailed criminal is often of a good lawyer.
4) Campaign Funding Disclosures
Fact: Politicians need lot of money to run campaigns, do public outreach, buy media slots, out leverage rivals, gain territory and defend against law. They get that money from vested parties and pay back in favorable policies and govt contracts when in power.
Problem: A political system which mandates disclosure of source of funds means a clamp down on crony capitalism, vested interests politics and lobbying. Policy making will then have to be impartial however money for campaigns will then be very hard to come by as only those will fund you who believe in what you stand for.
Conclusion: A failed politician is one who repays public with welfare policies and his funders with empty rhetoric.
5) A honest politician
Fact: A brotherhood only survives if every member subscribes to its code of conduct and contributes towards the status quo.
Problem: A honest politician is an inside rebel who will call out the excesses, carry out reforms, create a process of oversight and audit. He will be a threat to business as usual and it will take unusual PR effort to discredit him and his activism.
Conclusion: A honest politician is an oxymoron who like batman, is a vigilante and a work of fiction.
However never say never: a honest politician might happen someday as an exception to prove the rule.