Growth, assuming it's not cancerous, generally is a good thing.

We want our kids to grow big and strong and be able to fend for themselves, we want the flowers and plants in our gardens to grow and bloom or bear fruit, we want our savings and our investments to grow and provide dividends.

We might even want our politicians to grow, too, if we like them and look forward to seeing them advance from the city council to the state Legislature to the U.S. Congress, provided we have reason to believe they will remember their roots and that the growth they experience will be in their character and ability and not in their egos.

That's a big proviso, however, because with each advancement the politician enters a more distant orbit and joins a new, more rarefied club whose members are also that much further removed from the constituents who made their careers possible.

At each stage, he's encouraged to take a broader view and scoff at the parochial concerns of the people he represents but hardly ever interacts with anymore. Almost everyone in his new, more elite circle of peers thinks and acts this way – the few who don't often are snickered at and ostracized.

Even men and women of good character have trouble resisting this siren song. Others go along gladly.

This is what is known as “growing” in office. It might better be described as “selling out,” but the people doing it develop an insatiable taste for euphemism and understandably prefer the former term.

Gun-loving good old boy Joe Manchin has “grown” in office. In fact, he's a perfect example of this phenomenon.

Manchin used to be a stalwart defender of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms that it protects. Now, suddenly, he's waffling. But the elite group of Democratic U.S. Senators to which he now belongs favors gun control, so what's poor Machin to do but – “grow?"

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