How to be a pharisee in politics:
At every moment display righteous indignation over the means (whether good or evil) which your opponent has used to attain the same corrupt end which you are trying to attain.
Point to the means he is using as evidence that your own purposes are righteous - even though they are the same as his.
If the means he makes use of are successful, then show that his success itself is proof that he has used corrupt methods.
But in your own case, success is proof of righteousness.
In politics, as in everything else, pharisaism is not self-righteousness only, but the conviction that, in order to be right, it is sufficient to prove someone else is wrong.
As long as there is one sinner left for you to condemn, then you are justified! Once you can point to a wrongdoer, you become justified in doing anything you like, however dishonest, however cruel, however evil!
- Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pp. 77-78
Note: This post appeared originally in this blog on June 23, 2017
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