In response to rising popular disenchantment with elected officials, numerous scholars have sought to defend politics and restate why it matters. For the most part, however, these theoretical arguments overlook the views and reflections of politicians themselves. As a step towards filling this gap, the author surveys politician-centred studies from around the world and the reflections of academics who have become politicians. By paying careful attention to what 'insiders' say about life in politics, the author constructs a practical rather than theoretical defence of the vocation and the people who undertake it. The author argues that politicians' views remind one that human endeavour is central to the purpose and function of politics and associated political institutions. To link the practical views and experiences of politicians with the emerging literature on demonisation, the author revisits the work of Arendt and Weber. The author concludes that while one may not always like who politicians are or the ways they operate, revaluing endeavour allows one to give credit where credit is due; politicians may regularly disappoint people but representative democracy does not work without them.