Why do politicians just not get it?
Australia’s body politic is suffering a deep and disturbing malaise, the ramifications of which are sweeping through the entire community.
Nor does it appear that this syndrome is restricted to the great Land Down Under. As here, politics worldwide is bedevilled by an appalling new sense of entitlement that has gripped our elected representatives.
Once, they accepted comparatively minor perks and privileges – albeit with very substantial enhancement of status – in return for serving the interests of those who elected them to positions of power. Now, they would spit in our eyes as soon as look at us. They have cultivated a sense of entitlement that is both unrealistic and offensive. But they appear willing to defend it to the death.
They are playing us for suckers. And we continue to pick up the entire tab for their inflated sense of ego and self-importance. Worse is that we know we are being played for fools but we continue to be humble and play by the rules that they ever-increasingly manipulate in their favour. Are we mad?
At every level – federal, state and local – there has been a decline in standards of behaviour as well as attitudes of mind by our elected representatives. There is no clear delineation point for when this began to happen but it has ramped-up dramatically in the past two decades.
Some would argue that society, generally, has suffered a decline in similar standards over that same period and few, I suspect, would disagree. But what gives politicians the assumed right to believe that they are better than us?
Part of the problem is that, as society has become ever more complex, the web of legislation and regulation that they are delegated to weave for us to keep our society optimally functional has become an effective camouflage for initiatives designed to benefit only themselves.
The increasing preponderance of lawyers in parliaments is, to me, part of the problem. Yes, there is a natural tendency for lawyers to want to become law-makers. But in an ever-more complex world, they enjoy an advantage that flouts many of the precepts of checks and balances upon which most of our democratic systems are validated.
The rest of their greedy, rapacious colleagues have simply swarmed along behind like rats teeming towards a swill trough.
The most frustrating aspect of their denigration of us citizens is their assumed posture that they know what is best for us. Once, politicians accepted they were elected to reflect our views in the decision-making process. Now, they believe we elect them to implement their own beliefs and, even, peccadilloes as they determine what kind of society we shall live in. It is a farcical reversal of responsibility. But it is no less real for that.
The inmates have seized control of the asylum. And, frighteningly, they bear an uncanny resemblance to publicity photos of Jack Nicholson portraying some of his more disturbing screen characters. Not a pretty sight.
Just how we reverse this situation, I am not sure. But we need to start agreeing that things are not as we would like and that we are just about ready to demand change. But, if we do demand change, we must be ready to exert our authority, as citizens of a democracy, to restore our rights as the ultimate power in the system we believe is the best.