To act with personal political motivations in mind, rather than the principle or general benefits of an action. It's clear the mayor is just playing politics—saying whatever will win him votes at the moment.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. Lit. to negotiate politically. Everybody at city hall is playing politics as usual. If you're elected as a member of a political party, you'll have to play politics.
2. to allow politics to dominate in matters where principle should prevail. Look, I came here to discuss the legal issues of this trial, not play politics. They're not making reasonable decisions. They're playing politics.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Act for personal or political gain rather than principle, as in I don't think this judge is fair-he's playing politics. [Mid-1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
play politicsact for political or personal gain rather than from principle. derogatory
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