Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Promises, promises


I had a piece in the Canberra Times yesterday; 'Promises, promises'.

Partly in response to Tony Abbott's broken 'no ABC cuts' pledge, I'm discussing the lack of trust in politics. A sample:
When we knowingly endorse the moral failings of our representatives, we are making a commitment to these failings – they become an integral part of the society we render. In this case, Australian representative democracy is fundamentally cynical and false. 
This tendency is inherent to politics, because it deals with power and partiality: different agendas seeking to rule. There is no magical land away from falsehood. But liberal democracy prides itself on a more honest, high-minded way of operating, in which voters are told what they are voting for, and politicians are held to account for telling falsely. 
Polling booths and counts keep some of the mechanisms, but without trust it ceases to be government by and for the people  – it becomes delegated management. Benign enough for the majority, but dangerously close to a convenient form of oligarchy, in which a select class of careerists govern while most citizens keep to themselves. 
Not coincidentally, this situation is also avoided by a free press, which holds untrustworthy politicians to account – they can try to lie or break promises, but the media pull them up. I wonder which broadcaster is Australia's most trusted?

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