only to betray them in practice.

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Senior Member
Official Guide to the GRE

The most striking thing about the politician is how often his politics have been strategic rather than ideological, as he adapts his political positions at any particular moment to the political realities that constrain him. He does not, however, piously brandish political principles only to betray them in practice. Rather, he attempts in subtle ways to balance his political self-interest with a deeply felt moral, viewing himself as an instrument of some unchanging higher purpose.

What is the idea of the bold part?
  • Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    He does not claim to have certain principles, then act in a way contrary to those principles.


    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    "Them" refers to "political principles," which "the politician" purports to uphold but may, under the pressures of political reality, choose at a given moment not to follow—betraying them. The writer's "politician" tries not to betray his "principles."
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