This question is asking if any politician has endorsed proportional representation. That is good scoping - the OP is asking about a topic, and seeking to elicit who has advocated it.

The problem is that "politician" can be fuzzy.

  • Is the President or a Member of Congress / Parliament a politician? Sure
  • Is the junior Soil and Water Board member of Bumpass, Va a politician? Um, maybe, but probably not what you care about.
  • What about the Green Party? Well, definitely in Germany - but what about in the U.S.? or Russia? And what about the Official Monster Raving Lunatic Party?
  • Is Bill O'Reilly or Stephen Colbert a Politician? Well, um, maybe. Depends
  • Is a major candidate who lost an election a politician? Well, um...
  • Is that cook who wrote up a conspiracy website a politician? Well, um, again...

How do we retain a level of scoping when seeking to ask "What politicians support X?" that preserves the intent of notability without making the term meaningless? Can we draw a clear line?

  • I think the question you linked is somewhere between unclear and too-broad for other reasons. If no politician has ever supported the issue, than a perfectly valid answer would be "No, Never", but such an answer is very hard to be satisfying. In order to make a satisfying "now" answer, you would have to enumerate all of the (notable) politicians, Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 19:35
  • and even if you found one, that's still not very satisfying, mostly because the implications of having just 1 politician and having say... 20% of politicians supporting the issue are vastly different. Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 19:38
  • @SamIam I recognize the difficult of proving a negative, and so am generally willing to be forgiving if you have done a search as thorough as could reasonably be expected, even if that does not constitute literal proof. Also, part of the reason I asked the question is because not even close to 20% of politicians support this issue. We can assume it's closer to 1.
    – Publius
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 20:06

3 Answers 3


I'm sure there are small town mayors and pundits who have run for water commissioner out there, but when you say "politician" I suspect you mean "someone notable" politicially. By notability, let's say that said people should have been at least one of the following at some point in their life, or something comparable:

  1. A Chief Executive of some kind at the state or federal level (President, Governor, Monarch, Prime Minister)
  2. An elected member of the federal legislature (House or Senate in the US, MP in the UK, etc...)
  3. A member of leadership in a state chamber should be presumed to be significant
  4. Regular members who are not in leadership (e.g. a backbencher, a junior state senator, etc...) should be considered a politician, but not a notable one.
  5. Chief Executives of major cities - by which I mean a population > 1 million or in the "top 2 or 3 cities" of smaller countries
  6. Candidates for any of the above offices who did not win, but who did win the endorsement of a "major" party for that jurisdiction
  7. Major thinkers who have a published work that has been used in a college level cirriculum
  8. Members of the Supreme Judicial body in the jurisdiction may or may not be considered, depending on the question.

If they are in one of these categories, I think you have a politician. If not, you can maybe make an argument, but the onus would be on you to prove they are either "notable" or a "politiican"

  • "Major thinkers who have a published work that has been used in a college level curriculum" - meh. Seems fair on the surface, until you realize that virtually 100% of Western liberal arts (including political science) education deliberately skews majorly liberal and correspondingly only use liberal sources (my own PoliSci class used NY Times as reading material and the professor was between aghast and flabbergasted when I had the temerity to note that I'd prefer a slighly less politically biased source).
    – user4012
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 16:02

I think that Affable Geek's definition of politician works for many questions. As I asked this question, I would consider somebody who holds elected office on the state or federal level a politician for the purposes of that question.

Note that I did not include the following for the purposes of this question, even though they might otherwise be considered politicians:

  1. I did not include politicians elected on the city level because, at least in my state (California), those offices tend to be non-partisan, but the definition could include figures in cities depending on the circumstance.

  2. Appointed figures, like judges or secretaries. They would certainly be considered politicians under normal circumstances, but as they are not elected, their stance on election systems is less relevant.

  3. People who ran for and lost elections. They could probably be considered politicians under normal circumstances, but if somebody has only lost an election, it would be more expected that they'd want the election system to change.

Nor would I tend to include the following under any circumstance:

  1. A pundit, unless that pundit meets some of the other criteria (e.g. he is a former congressman).

  2. The head of a think tank. Having political opinions, even influential ones, does not qualify to make you a politician. You have to be in a position to directly implement those policies.

  • +1 for excluding pundits. -1 for excluding think tanks (because "directly implement those policies" would exclude anyone in legislative or judicial branch since they don't implement any policies either). Wash.
    – user4012
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 16:04
  • @DVK In what sense are the people in think tanks politicians? Also, it is the job of legislators (and sometimes judges) to make changes to policy, and they make those changes themselves rather than recommending them to others.
    – Publius
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 17:04
  • most legislators don't DO much. Many of them just express their opinion via yes/no votes (or even "Not Present" like our beloved President) or prepared soundbites. Significantly less involvement into political thinking than someone writing a white paper. (and since everything is managed "by committe" in legislature, you can't say that they have the responsibility for their votes either)
    – user4012
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 18:34
  • I recognize that legislators do not have that great a role, usually, in creating policy, but if anything, the fact that legislators don't do much is one of the defining characteristics of their being politicians.
    – Publius
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 6:20
  • the point is, people in think tank BOTH have more influence (in some cases), AND more active part, in the political process; AND are more quoteworthy in terms of original thought.
    – user4012
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 6:33
  • @DVK I would tend to agree with those statements, maybe with some small qualifiers, I just don't think that changes the definition of a politician. Perhaps it does change what kidns of questions should be asked.
    – Publius
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 10:29
  • 1
    "what kidns of questions should be asked" is really what I care about, not the nomenclature :)
    – user4012
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 14:04

I think it depends on the question. If someone asks in the comments, then question should say what definition it is using.

On that particular question, the definition should be mentioned.

Other than that, I don't see why we need to define politician in this stackexchange, as long as the content of the question fits on it.

I also don't see how the definition of politician can help to distinguish whether the question fits or not this stackexchange.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .