Politics as a blood sport

I don’t buy the whole ‘LNP is always right, Labor is always wrong’ thing. Or the opposite.

In my experience most politicians are involved for all the right reasons. They genuinely believe in what they are doing and are trying to make their country or their community a better place. Behind the public exchange of ideas and barbs many even find that others from the opposite side are actually decent people.

This seems to make little difference to those who are more interested in waging war against ‘the enemy’. In the eyes of these people everything their side stands for and does is right and everything the other side does is wrong. What simplistic nonsense.

The fact is that the major parties have more in common than their most rabid supporters care to admit. In government they all make mistakes and in opposition they all claim the government is making a mess of things. There is a natural political cycle and in time all governments fall.

My eyes glaze over when I see certain names in the letters to the editor, in the editorial pages and in social media. You know who I’m talking about, wherever you live. They’re the former politicians who never rose above the adversarial challenge, the party members who see it as their mission to shoot the other side down and the wannabe politicians. Over and over and over again. Maybe they think that by saying it often enough people will start to believe it. Not likely.

To be sure there are a lot of genuinely passionate people out there who are driven by their beliefs. But when it’s all one way, every time, people like me turn off. Particularly when those who fire the most bullets are often the most thin skinned and lacking in humour. It can get personal very quickly.

I suspect this is one of the reasons for the level of public disenchantment with the major parties and the rise of independents and minor parties. People are developing a much more cynical view of politics and politicians.

I doubt our politicians genuinely care about this. If they did they’d lift their own game. Parliamentary standards of behaviour are poor and are poorly policed. Ministerial accountability is minimised. Labor needs to reform itself from the ground up, more truly engage with its members and focus on implementation of its agenda when next in government. The LNP should cease the culture wars and govern for all Australians. There’s my bit of gratuitous advice for the day.

And both parties, including their most rabid supporters, should stop treating polities like a blood sport and start publicly acknowledging that ‘the other mob’ might occasionally have a good idea or do something right.







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