Why does our political landscape so often resemble open mic night at the local comedy club?
Politicians, regardless of where they come from, are supposed to be professional. We pay them heaps of money to think carefully about the problems facing their country, to propose workable solutions, to debate the merits of various proposals, and to implement their ideas if we let them. They may come from all kinds of backgrounds, but once they are in positions of influence we pay them like professionals so we expect them to act like professionals.
We also pay even more money for those politicians to have other highly paid staffers help them do this as smoothly as possible.
In New Zealand, we pay tens of millions to politicians and their staff and their parties. Worldwide, it is well into the billions.
What do we get in return?
We get this guy wandering around making statements about weed that, for all their substantive interestingness, are strategically quite completely inane and lead to some ugly political in-fights. Watch this clip for open threats from “Don’s friend for 30 years.”
We get this other guy declaring, as if by fiat, that a renewed global economic crisis, set to engulf two of the world’s largest economies, won’t affect his budgetary plans. At all. Despite the widely agreed fact that global growth has an enormous impact on New Zealand growth, and New Zealand growth has an awful lot to do with his Budget. How stupid does he think we all are?
We get these people over here and these other people over here and probably more completely ignoring the clear rules about what you are allowed to do when you ask for votes. Some even appear to be congratulating themselves for it.
None of these folk are first time offenders. Imagine how many entries this post would have if it documented every instance of bald hypocrisy (e.g. “dead baby's identity”), ridiculous fibs (“97% of the net tax”), outrageous incompetence (Chris Carter), and other nonsense that has invaded our political consciousness, all since the last election.
I wonder if we counted up all the words in our main newspapers about politicians’ actual ideas, and then added up all the words about other political sideshows, which would win? My money is on the sideshows.
It is tempting for politicians to blame the media and public for this, saying that these kinds of stories are what they demand. But for demand to be met, you also need supply.
And it isn't just us. Outside of New Zealand:
We get this guy making himself a bizarre campaign ad originally intended for Tim Pawlenty / "The Day After Tomorrow: Redux." Click for cool bananas transcript.
We get this Head of State calling this other Head of State an “unf*ckable lard-arse” while talking to his pimp and a hidden microphone. Yes, really.
We get this lady declaring that her conversation with Some Lady Over There convinced her that some vaccine causes health problems, despite every person who actually knows something about this stuff declaring otherwise.
And, as with New Zealand, those are just the tip of the iceberg.
Politicians: How hard can it be to avoid this crap? Any of it. Politics is a simple game. You have the idea; you debate the idea; you carry out the idea.
The rest is all bullshit.