Does the prospect of another federal election leave you completely underwhelmed? Will the next stage-managed seven-second media grab featuring a politician in hi-vis wielding a shovel send you grasping in desperation for the sedatives, or worse still, the gun locker?
Ask yourself when, if ever, you have felt that our political system has made you feel truly represented as a franchised voter. Nope, nope… nope.
Changing the politicians on the menu seems to only offer us choices between shades of grey. Surmising the words of the creators of Southpark, is the choice between a douche bag and a turd really a choice at all? Perhaps the time has come when we should be seriously examining the system that produces the politicians rather than the litany of mediocrities thus produced.
Divorce and taxes
Our Westminster democracy was largely conceived and designed in the mid 17th century as an expedient for the then King of England, Henry VIII to obtain himself a divorce and raise a few taxes. At the time heretics and witches were being enthusiastically burned at the stake. The adversarial nature of the system assumed that there was an invisible man in the sky who would keep track of what was proposed and come down on the side of the argument that had the greatest merit, and this would ensure the best possible outcomes. This is medieval thinking, which will usually produce medieval outcomes.
Isn’t it time we began to rethink some of these concepts? Perhaps what is needed is a change of perception. If politics is based on an argument, how much attention, time and energy is spent on undermining the opposing ideology rather than working towards a better outcome? We deserve better, but we will have to change the way we think about our system of government to achieve this.
Indulge me while I have a political fantasy: The Democratic Meritocracy.
Elections are the same, except for the head of state, but you are not running on behalf of any party, you are there to represent your constituents, and what we shall call ‘Team Australia’. When you make the team, you are also there to represent the whole country. Party politics must die and the argument taken out of the equation.
The main jobs are given out by a team committee. Membership of this group is determined by incumbency. If you have been re-elected you will have more weight, but incumbency is measured by the number of constituents as well as consecutive election wins, in order to avoid having people like Bob Katter or Barnaby Joyce who only represent a small portion of the population to run the show.
If you are a business representative you will put yourself forward as a business representative, if you are an educator, or a worker made good, or an economist, a doctor, or a diplomat, then that is what you are there to do/ who you will represent. There will of course be room for vigorous debate, but the focus would be on the outcome, not the argument.
The head of state is elected simultaneously with the government and any candidate can put themselves forward, and the head of state gains more incumbency. Apart from that it’s just a matter of let’s get on and do what’s best for the team.
Endlessly cynical as I may be about politics in general, I do have one more political fantasy to offer, as a panacea to the hopeful…
Can you imagine Mandy Nolan’s Maiden Speech in parliament?