Saturday 3 February 2018
I’m sitting here thinking of what I might write about for Saturday. I’m feeling a lot of mixed emotions, a brew of disgust, nefarious loathing, if you like, for this self serving rotten government.
I even feel somewhat depressed that governments are able to get away with what they do. Truly, I would much rather be writing positively about some initiative the government is proposing even if it might advantage my enemy.
The psychology of politics is what interests me most. The “why” of why people act one way or another. Why they support one philosophy or another. What motivates them to enter the profession. Why they dump long held belief when it suits them.
You may have noticed this in my writing. Perhaps it’s because I’m a self-confessed idealist who believes that there are better ways of doing things, but we let ideology get in the way.
List Crux provides 10 reasons to enter politics. A full explanation for the headings is provided here, but here are the reasons:
- Power to use your responsibilities in the right way
- Popularity and attention
- Generate your ideas and bring a change
- Embark a social status for yourself
- Go hand in hand with the world
- Sharpen your communication skills
- You are always employed
- Remove the weak from power
- Luxury privileges
- What is age?
After reading the explanations in full I didn’t find them particularly enticing, so I moved onto Peter Reith.
In 2015 Peter Reith wrote an article for the SMH titled ‘Five lessons to learn if you want to go into politics‘. Of course, the title is self-explanatory. He reckons that there is no school for politicians. You just have to learn on the job:
Learn from experience. On the day of his return Malcolm Turnbull as PM it was crystal clear he would oversee a traditional cabinet system. To his credit, Turnbull had learnt the lesson of pragmatism and consultation.
Learn how to have differences of opinion. Having differences on policy is what politics is mainly about. My memoirs demonstrate that I often disagreed with John Howard, for example on protectionism. I was not the only one, but Howard let everybody have their say.
Managing colleagues. Another necessary skill is the one-on-one management of colleagues. This part of politics is as much about personality as anything else. I think it’s widely accepted that the failure to work with colleagues played an important part in the demise of Kevin Rudd.
You need a plan. People management was also an issue for Peter Costello. He had the lot: he was strong intellectually, good on his feet and solid on policy. The top job beckoned him. He had choices.
Faction friction. My last lesson, on factions, started in 1989. I was with John Howard when he was dumped as leader. He was ousted by a well-organised coup masterminded by Andrew Peacock supporters.
Way back in 2005, Mark Latham in a piece for The Age titled ‘Ten reasons why you shouldn’t go into politics‘ wrote:
I’m sure there are some young idealistic people interested in running for Parliament. I have to say to you, as frankly and sincerely as I can, don’t do it.
The system is fundamentally sick and broken, and there are other more productive and satisfying ways in which you can contribute to society. Let me give you 10 good reasons why you should do something else.
No. 1: Public apathy. There was a time when politics was treated as an honoured profession, but that time has now passed. After decades of ridicule in the media and shameful opportunism and cynicism on both sides of politics, most people now treat politicians with contempt.
No. 2: Loss of privacy. Politics is now regarded as just another form of entertainment, ripe for ridicule and prying into politicians’ private lives.
No. 3: The crippling impact on family. As former Howard Government minister Warwick Smith said to me: every day you spend away from your children is a day you never get back.
No. 4: Rise of machine politics. A recurring theme in my diaries is the corrosive impact of machine politics on the ALP. This is a key point for young people to understand.
No. 5: Politics of personal destruction (Labor-style). As the factions have taken control of the ALP, they have perverted its political methods.
No. 6: Politics of personal destruction (Liberal-style). The John Brogden tragedy has shown that the culture on the other side of politics is just as bad. The political class in this country is narrowing into two types of characters: the flint-hearted machine men who are happy to do whatever it takes, and the freaks and weirdos of the religious right, with their sexual hang-ups and policy obsessions. This is happening on both sides of politics.
No. 7: Entrenched conservatism of Australian politics. These trends are making the work environment of Australian politics incredibly conservative.
They like their politicians to be cautious, predictable and easily brought under control.
No. 8: Arrogance and incompetence of the media. Anyone going into politics has to deal with an extraordinary level of media incompetence – basic errors of fact and misreporting.
No. 9: Social problems require social solutions. I regard party politics and the media as public manifestations of a bigger, more serious problem – the loss of social capital.
In many cases, this has denied them the time and pleasures of family life, replacing strong and loving social relationships with feelings of stress and alienation.
No. 10: The sane, rational choice. If you are a young, idealistic person, don’t get involved in organised politics. Contribute to your community, your neighbourhood, your immediate circle of trust and support. This is the best way forward for a better society.
I have edited a great portion of these three pieces and I suggest they are worth a read in full, even if they make you somewhat wary of the present status of our political system.
One that is badly in need of more than just a grease and oil change … It needs a new engine. One that suits Australian conditions. One that encourages young people to at least go for a test drive.
If you are of the view of this person (on Whirlpool Forums – sorry, link no longer available) then I suggest you go to the next step by following the this link. ‘This person’ had this to say:
I’m sick of how this country is governed, and would like to try to have my own input at a larger level!
I am currently studying a BCOM, majors in finance and accounting, but politics have always interested me. A few of my friends are doing BA majoring in politics, but just how many of our politicians have gone through that area of study?
What is the “normal” level of education that our politicians have? I’ve looked at the credentials of a few of my locals, and they seem to have law degrees.
How does one seek to join a party?
Is there anyone here in a party and what does your level of work involve?
Aspiring politicians should follow the above link!
My thought for the day
“We live in a time where horrible things are being perpetrated on us. The shame is that we have normalised them and adjusted accordingly.”