Allan Takes Aim Blog

Power and status drive politics

Posted on: 4 August 2011


First published  The Chronicle Canberra, Tuesday 2 August, 2011

Little wonder young voters are cynical about whether or not their right to vote is a right worth exercising. From talking to them it seems their cynicism is based on the performances of some Federal, State and Territory politicians of whom they said, that rather than being transparent their performances seemed part of an introverted world of plotters that would put a dozen Guy Fawkes to shame. That apart, they thought too many politicians wanted power not because they wanted to use it in the interests of constituents but to boost their egos.  

 It would be easy to dismiss such views as nonsense but it seems to me that politicians, and those intending to take up a career in politics, should be listening to what young people are saying. And it wouldn’t do them any harm either to listen to what older voters are saying.

For example, during a recent conversation about politics with a group of young people, one young woman said there was clearly a lack of common sense among power brokers as the various Costello/Nelson/Abbott/Turnbull brouhahas over leadership. She added that the brouhahas had the unintended consequence of handing Labor’s leader Kevin Rudd the 2007 election on a plate, and a well filled plate at that. Was she right? 

In an attempt to find out I conducted a telephone poll of thirty Canberra voters and asked them what they thought. Of the thirty, 15 said they thought these brouhahas were unseemly political squabbles that had placed the Liberals in a bad light; 10 said they would never trust the Liberals; 3 said the brouhahas were simply arguments between men who thought they had a right to be Leader and wanted power; and 2 said: no comment.

Would that more of our politicians had the same common sense as that young woman. Indeed too many politicians today now seem to think common sense a fatally infectious disease they must avoid catching at all costs.

After the 2007 election as Labor continued to be popular in a stream of never ending opinion polls with Prime Minister Rudd’s level of popularity the best ever enjoyed by any Prime Minister, Labor congratulated itself feeling sure that Rudd and the party’s popularity would keep it in government for a long time. However, if Labor Party’s power brokers had had the same degree of common sense as they had complacency, they would have seen the danger signs. Unfortunately when finally they saw the danger signs they seemed to lose what little common sense they had and committed an act of political bastardry that still reverberates today.

The political assassination of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd showed Labor lacked common sense. It also confirmed that common sense now seems to be at a premium among politicians regardless of party, hence the recent squabbling among Liberals about leaders.

This lack of common sense as n the Gillard/ Rudd affair, also gave life to unintended consequences from which Labor still suffers. But there was a difference: not only was the Gillard/Rudd affair carried out when the party was in Government it also lived up to what young people thought of politicians, that they preferred the introverted world of plotting to transparency.

Not to put too fine a point on it the current hung Federal parliament created by the 2010 election can be attributed less to the increasing popularity of Greens and Independents than to lack of common sense among Labor’s power brokers. 

One of those unintended consequences was that it pushed the Liberals into creating a united front or as united a front as one can get in politics and in doing so improved their standing with voters. But some questions remain: will the unity last or will a new series of brouhahas take place?

 That said, it must be said also that elections today are contests more about popularity where candidates are judged winners because they have the best smile, hairstyle, looks and clothes than they are about policy.

Sadly, no longer are political parties centres from which will emerge ideas to improve the social and economic landscape for the benefit of the community but centres where selfish people congregate to compete for power and status.

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best Community news. Published every Tuesday

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143 Responses to "Power and status drive politics"

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Sensible people don’t last long in politics these days – if they ever did. If they don’t give up politics voluntarily, disgusted by the lack of common sense in those around them in the political world, they are rapidly bundled out by their colleagues, who don’t want any sensible talk getting in the way of their own careers. Voters have trouble wading through the garbage to get to what the candidate is trying to hide. Usually the truth.

Thanks for your comment Marylin. Knowing there are people who share the same sentiments as me with regard to politics, even though we might not necessarily be in agreement on some of the issues that voters face today encourages me to continue expressing opinions that many politicians think should never be expressed. Would that the thousands of voters who think the same way expressed their views at the ballot box instead of being frightened of the thought that like Henny Penny (Chicken Little) the sky would fall if the status quo was not maintained, would welcome the thought that the sky would fall in on many of the candidates on the ballot paper. Indeed the very thought of a revolution taking place at the ballot box not only in Canberra but across Australia is a revolution I hope to live long enough to see. Could all of you please hurry it up as time is note on my side.

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