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Mutually assured destruction

By 2353NM  

A few years ago, we were in Canada. One cool and wet day in St Jacobs, Ontario (a couple of hours west of Toronto), we walked into a building dedicated to The Mennonite Story because it looked dry and warm inside. Unsurprisingly, the building went someway towards explaining the history and beliefs of the Mennonite Church. The Mennonites are a branch of the Anabaptist Christians and the easiest way to describe their beliefs is to suggest that the Amish are an offshoot of the Mennonites.

Like the Amish, the Mennonites tend to refrain from a lot of technology unless it gives them more time to contemplate the wonders of their God’s work. For example, the reason why they use horse drawn buggies and carriages for transportation rather than cars and trucks is they don’t have time to see, observe and wonder at the glory of the flower produced by the plant growing at the side of the road if they are travelling past at 60 miles an hour. While not promoting that everyone should immediately invest in horses and buggies or join the Mennonite faith, they have a point. You don’t see the individual flower growing beside the road when travelling on the highway and as you don’t see it, you don’t have the opportunity to marvel at its beauty or contemplate the work of ‘the creator’ (if that’s your ‘thing’).

Taking the time to reflect and consider isn’t the sole property of the Mennonite faith either. Most of the literature about how to gain and retain good employees will discuss work/life balance. Work/life balance isn’t just some 21st Century corporate mumbo-jumbo either, most of us would have heard the adage ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Crikey daily ‘worm’ reported on 16 July

Niki Savva (The Australian): “Morrison’s decision to go on Saturday to watch his side get thrashed incited outrage on Twitter for daring to seek a few hours respite while Victorians were being treated like lepers. A ‘Scotty at the footy’ hashtag trended and not in a nice way. Those getting stuck into Daniel Andrews defended Morrison and those defending Andrews berated Morrison. Morrison has refrained from criticising Andrews, nor has Andrews criticised Morrison. They need one another.”

Anyone, regardless of their position has the right to some time off. Constant work without time to connect with family, enjoy hobbies and interests or just sit in the lounge and doze off is hazardous to health. Certainly you can criticise Morrison’s sport of choice or his support of a particular team but Morrison attending a football game for a couple of hours is not going to change the country’s response to the current pandemic. Neither did his family holiday to Hawaii at Christmas during the bushfires.

The difference between the two events is that Morrison’s office attempted to convince the Australian public it wasn’t happening last December, despite the photos circulating in the media. Attempting to cover up something that may be used to attack a politician is shonky. A far better strategy would have been to announce he was in Hawaii on a family holiday, receiving regular briefings and the holiday will give him the opportunity to clear his mind to concentrate on the recovery effort when he returns. They could have even discussed the theory behind work/life balance.

Around the same time as Savva wrote the piece discussed above, a former Liberal Party staffer Chelsea Potter wrote a piece in the Nine Newspapers about the 10th anniversary of Julia Gillard becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minister. The piece was an apology for Potter’s past behaviour. The first paragraph is instructive

Dear Julia, In politics, you’re never meant to apologise. Especially publicly. That’s backflipping. And, as you well know, that can come at a political price. In our industry, changing your mind — even if it’s completely genuine and informed by lived experience or research — isn’t the done thing.

Potter goes on to discuss why she acted the way she did 10 years ago, which is well worth reading and will give you some insight into politics as it is played in the 21st Century. However, let’s tease out the expectation in the political industry is that changing your mind isn’t the ‘done’ thing and demonstrates ‘backflipping’ or weakness. It is a crock that we can’t change our outlook or the way we do things — we do it every day.

As you’re reading this, there are probably political operatives in some dark and dismal place creating a ‘dirt file’ on the other side who have had the temerity to criticise an insignificant or long forgotten action of a leading light of the operative’s party. Apart from the questionable work/life balance implied by working at all hours to climb the greasy pole and maybe be nominated for a safe seat in a parliament one day if they are good, wouldn’t the country be better off if the work was directed towards suggesting improvements to government policy and process that doesn’t blindly follow the individual political party’s orthodoxy without original thought? At the very least they should have some time to smell the roses — if not wonder at ‘the creators’ work in getting a small flower to bloom at the side of the road.

The ultimate outcome of competing ‘dirt files’ thrown at political enemies can only be similar to the ridiculous situation of the Cold War where both the USA and Russia had enough weapons to destroy the world hundreds of times. The theory of ‘mutual assured destruction’ seems to still be current in politics. In the end no one wins. Both sides of politics (and their fanatical keyboard warriors) are too busy throwing insults like ‘socialist’ and ‘neo-con’ at each other rather than understanding that the majority of us consider them all to be self-serving. The rise of the ‘anti-politician’ such as Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson is a direct result of political games such as someone dredging up a nine year old statement from Morrison criticising a police commissioner for going to dinner during a bushfire emergency to attack Morrison for going to Hawaii last Christmas (the link is to The Chaser’s version of the story because this stuff shouldn’t be taken seriously).

Currently politicians seem to have to defend the party orthodoxy, illogical claims or an unsupportable position to the political death. How refreshing it would be for a politician to admit to not being ‘on duty’ 24 hours a day, apologise if a decision is shown to be wrong or change their mind on an issue publicly without the finger pointing and harassment from their internal and external political ‘enemies’. Maybe they could suggest ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’ They wouldn’t be the first.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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10 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    Now, now 2353NM you are being just too optimistic. You see, political parties exist to keep the otherwise unemployable political hacks who control pre-selection in the manner to which they wish to remain accustomed. It has nothing to do with politics or ”the best thing for Australian voters”. If accepting a political donation requires a certain policy against the public interest, then the size of the donation determines the price of the policy and supporting propaganda from political publicists employed on the public purse.

    Just look at the so-called ”CSG gas lead recovery” that will cost taxpayers BILLIONS OF DOLLARS to supply water for use in mining in the very dry NW NSW and utilise existing state water storage by paying exorbitant prices on the ”open water market” that are beyond the capacity of agricultural industries producing food & fibre. Three new dam projects reported in NSW this morning (110820) and none of those projects is dedicated to agriculture. Now which Nazional$ politicians, past and present, are involved in or with this industry?

    Naturally this process also works the other way. The COALition misgovernment have gifted News Ltd and the foreign owned Murdoch media empire, first $30 MILLION then a further $10 MILLION of taxpayer revenue to provide favourable editorial coverage of the pathetic performance of the Liarbral Nazional$ misgovernment.

  2. Jack Cade

    I will only believe today’s news about the Secret Service hurrying Trump off the set if he soiled himself in the process. Otherwise, to my cynical eyes, it is another stunt in the saga of President Fart being behind in the polls in the sister-shagger states.

  3. Michael Taylor

    Jack, did you see this from his presser this morning? Trump on the 1917 pandemic said:

    “Probably ended the second World War, all the soldiers were sick.”

    You may need a bit of time to let that sink in.

  4. Jack Cade

    Michael

    Just another example of Trump knowing things that everyone else let go through to the keeper unwittingly.
    The Spanish flu (which should more accurately be termed the Kansas Flu) arrived in Europe in February 1918, carried ashore by one or more US recruits from an army base in Kansas. Good old Uncle Sam, donor of many pestilences The giver that can’t stop giving…

  5. Michael Taylor

    Jack, he’s a meat head.

    If he was Australian he’d be a Crows supporter.

  6. Rossleigh

    Gees, Michael. That’s a bit harsh… I mean, Donald Trump has shown a total lack of awareness, a belief that he’s somehow superior with absolutely no evidence, and been prone to stupid comments but calling him a Crow’s supporter is a little harsh!

  7. Roswell

    I agree with Rossleigh. To call Trump a Crow’s supporter is low. Real low. What an insult.

    Sheesh.

  8. Jack Cade

    Rossleigh

    Your assessment of Trump is exactly my assessment of a Crows supporter.

  9. Andrew Smith

    Issue in Australia is related to:

    ‘Currently politicians seem to have to defend the party orthodoxy, illogical claims or an unsupportable position to the political death.’

    Square pegs in round holes, why?

    Because LNP* no longer develops researched policy grounded in their grass roots membership (now declining and being taken over by more Christian conservatives with cut/dried positions, or simply follow instructions) but simply help promote imported libertarian policy whether economic or fossil fuel/environment or defence related, from the US via the IPA/CIS, aided by mainstream media especially NewsCorp, 7 Network and 9Fairfax (with rusted on above median age audiences).

    (* while the National Party with declining rural populations and voters has become accountable to regional urban types, corporate agriculture and miners while ignoring small holders)

    Further, if the LNP had any original policy development and promotion it’s only that which passes the media test first then can become official policy….. even the LNP or at least individual MPs probably quake in their shoes for fear of upsetting NewsCorp et al. and/or reflecting badly in any of the numerous opinion polls….. and losing their job or career.

  10. wam

    The ‘mind changing’ not being a good thing has the major triplet missing ‘for a woman’,
    Men are free to flop and flip at will with not a ‘juliar’ to be heard.

    ps I have to stop quoting you, jack, You got some crows upset when I wrote
    ‘It not all bad, crows, a port bloke, jack cade, informed me you are scoring at the level as most teams of 8 year olds.’
    It’s enough to drive tex to drink??

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