Must virtue be its own reward?

In a puff piece about Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Philip Rucker of the Washington Post provides this self-serving quotation from David Axelrod, who has advised both Gov. Patrick and President Obama:

Obviously there is the path-of-least-resistance politics, and then there is this conviction politics that is more difficult but holds more promise. I think [Obama and Patrick] are both practitioners of conviction politics. The question is: Do you get rewarded for that?

I think the answer depends on what your convictions are, what impact they have when translated into policy, and whether you’re running in Massachusetts or for national office.