Allan Takes Aim Blog

Beware the church of politics

Posted on: 18 April 2012

Published The Chronicle, Canberra. Tuesday 17 April.

Major problems some new politicians face following their election is trying to remain the kind of person they were before being elected and keeping their promise of continuing to pursue the policies on which they were elected. Unfortunately, some don’t succeed, particularly if they model themselves on politicians who have had a long (too long) parliamentary career. Sad as it seems many of these models have not only forgotten why they were elected but have allowed personal interests to take priority over that of their constituents.

But worse, many newly elected politicians also undergo another change. As time goes by, they begin to think that a seat in parliament has imbued them with a wisdom not given to those who elected them. Unfortunately, this leads to them believing they are special people and part of an elite deserving of special treatment. In some cases this seems to lead them to regarding those who elected them more as inconveniences than as constituents.

Such behaviour is not the preserve of politicians who embrace a particular political theology. I use theology rather that ideology because political parties boast of themselves as broad churches accommodating a wide range of views something you might not accept after a conversation with some church members.

As occurs in various religious sects, members of the different factions in the political churches preach different brands of theology. And in common with the members of religious sects the factional political leaders preach that if everyone accepted their political theology they would be on the path to living in an earthly heaven.

If only to emphasise how political parties are like church sects they have head offices where the hierarchy congregate and develop laws that every member is expected to accept, believe and obey without question. Failure to do so is to risk excommunication. And just as religious denominations have saints political parties have their political saints, devoted followers who worship in their suburban churches –they call branches.

In common with religious denominations and much as they say otherwise new ideas unless previously endorsed by the party hierarchy which is sure that their ideas are the only ones that will save a state, nation and in some cases, the world.. Not that party hierarchies do not put forth new ideas but often the ideas belong to someone else. Often and unknown to their creator these ideas have been passed on by sycophants in an effort to satisfy their own ambitions. Unfortunately, Australian political parties have many members in this category.

However, to continue with the thesis that political parties are like churches, broad or not, if members express views contrary to those laid down by the hierarchy they are viewed as heretics, a fate that has caused many a politician to be expelled from the party they had served faithfully for many years, because they had spoken out.

Let me make the point that while politicians of every persuasion talk of free speech, some politicians who have lost faith in the philosophy of the party of which they are members will never say so publicly. Not only do these politicians lack courage, they are venal because they fear loss of access to the earthly delights their position brings, something that seems implicit in former Health Services Union now Labor MP Craig Thomson’s statements of innocence.

Clearly their behaviour not only conflicts with but also mocks the philosophy of free speech they say they are sworn to defend. Politicians will not agree with that statement. If anything, most would disagree with it ‘til the cows come home.

However, apart from lacking courage and loss of access to earthly delights what these venal people fear most is being labelled pejoratively as scab, a title they might find hard to rebut. It is a good thing they are not living in the middle ages as they would be shunned, spat upon in the street and in some cases tarred and feathered. They should thank their lucky stars if they have any
If ACT voters want to avoid electing an Assembly with venal members it behoves them to closely examine potential MLAs and satisfy themselves as to their credibility before voting. Chronicle online edition published every Wednesday


4 Responses to "Beware the church of politics"

I think that your idea of comparing political parties to religions is brilliant. It is true that a politician, or two, have been heard to speak of their individual Party as a “broad church”. Religions divide people into opposing groups and so do political Parties. Religions often try to stir up people to see those of different religions as , at the best, inferior. So do political Parties. Religions and Parties should all be trying to practise, at the least, tolerance. Great things can be achieved when we all stop bickering amongst ourselves and start co-operating with each other.

A big thank you for your article.Really thank you! Really Great.

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