Ethical politics—is it?

by on 27 September, 2012


H.L. Mencken said: “If experience teaches us anything at all, it teaches us that a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
RadioNational’s program, “Life Matters” hosted by Natasha Mitchell, recently aired “Civility, Sexism, and Democracy.” A cosy chat featuring guests, journalist Anne Summers, and federal Independent Tony Windsor.

In keeping with the ABC’s creed of balanced reportage, the three unanimously appealed ad misericordiam. Summers implored the community to cease the mountain of abuse and sexist attacks against the Prime Minister. Both Summers and Windsor said politics and politicians are being degraded by nasty quips on social media, and mainstream media. Both believed that Officers of the Crown deserve respect, consideration, decency, and civility.

 Summers exampled the denigration of Julia Gillard by cartoonist Larry Pickering’s work in which she wears a strap-on dildo. Facebook censored that and now Pickering’s work has added the now trademark-dildo hung over her shoulder, on the desk or somewhere in the cartoon. That may be repugnant to some while others find it hilarious.

Tony Windsor agreed with Summers in their collective disgust at unruly citizens that dare to share such cartoons and jokes with names like “Juliar” via social media. Windsor targeted radio 2GB’s broadcast personalities, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley as particular demons who have set their sights on Windsor’s, and other politico’s decisions. They wonder why?

Well, the answer lurks in the words, “ethics” and “politics.” Two meaningful words increasingly sullied; an oxymoron. Their use together in any sentence is laughable; suspicions driven by subconscious memories are immediately raised.

In lieu of the prescribed ABC-styled, stewed prunes and laxatives for interviewing party pets, Windsor should have been asked, “Tony, do you think politicians like you, and the prime minister, and so many others, have done anything to warrant all this rudeness from the voters?” Now that’s a question!

The disdain of politicians begins with Parliamentary Question Time. This stolen hour from a person’s life exposes our politicians at work—it’s on national television. Their behaviour is worse than a kindergarten of vile mannered delinquents bereft of all civility. It is a national embarrassment. Children visiting from far away schools remark as such. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

National leaders should set examples of good citizenry. Their spoken words are to be measured with wisdom and recorded in Hansard for evermore, some as oratorical excellence, most as bickering drivel. They should be inspirational, especially to the young who might later aspire to the noble profession.

Windsor’s recent tirade against Abbott in parliament, on camera, is one example, ‘…I will do anything, Tony, to get this job. The only thing I won’t do is sell my arse,’ he alleged. Funny, Windsor’s defection to Labor was contrary to the will of his electorate, he sold them out, and he didn’t give a rat’s arse. What of his “fortuitous” land dealings, and his defence of Coal Seam Gas permit holders intent on raping the landscape? Will he face his electorate for another time? Ha!

Honesty is surely part of the “ethics” our ABC wants restored to politics—wouldn’t you think? For that exemplary we begin at the highest level. “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” And, the still unanswered questions about her days with Slater and Gordon/Wilson, the “slush funds” and the AWU go begging despite the sham that she settled the matter. That rings of probity? So does her comradely stabbing of Rudd. Yet another off-key trill on the Wurlitzer organ of public rectitude is Craig Thomson. Union money, prostitutes, credit cards. What a guy! “I want to grow to be like Craig,” kids tell their Mums. Yeah?

However, the sermon on goodness would be remiss without mention of everyone’s darling, that king of parliamentary theatrics, Peter Slipper, that narcissistic buffoon and Liberal turncoat who exemplified inner beauty and virtue as an alleged rorter of privilege.  I wonder if his constituents share their benevolence with him at local coffee shop, or the booze shop? Do kids clamour for his autograph?

Yes, I know, I lecture about “balance” in reporting, but these matters are in the minds of most people now. My father once said, “Respect is earned, not demanded.” I later ran aground on that gem of wisdom in the military sense. “You are saluting the uniform, not the man,” I was reminded.

So, convention dictates we should respect the office of the prime minister along with other officers of the Crown without consideration of those who occupy those positions—this they would wish. Times have changed, however, and the electorate have wearied under relentless abuse of privilege and incompetence. The offices are tarnished, the profession of politics is soiled, and so is faith in leadership virtue.

It will be a long time requiring major change in attitude before respect is returned to such offices. In the meantime they should stop bleating and get used to public vitriol for it is they who earned it and it could get worse, much worse.

When the office itself is tarnished, what respect is now owed to that office?

Thought for today: All of the above.

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