Friday, February 1, 2008
Better the Government We Deserve than the Government We Get
It is an anomaly as painful as it is real. Political leaders do not represent the cream of generations. They are rarely credible enough for their nations to feel even minimal respect. In most cases they would not rise to the top of a multinational company or professions such as medicine or philosophy or astro-physics. Instead, they stump along the avenues of power with their ill-developed intellects, scantily clad in designer sound-bites. They learn to live in the self-serving villages inhabited by all political elites, insulated from the fields and streets, the pain and pleasures of their disenfranchised, cynical or alienated voters. They look happiest when they are meeting politicians from other countries who share their sense of importance and who suffer the same delusions of grandeur. It has been thus since opposing kings and princes shared tents and watched as their armies fought each other.
Our politicians shuffle around cabinet posts as though they are supremely capable of handling any brief from law to media and science, from the military to health. They only really connect with the public when events go drastically wrong and they knee-jerk their way to formulating policies that result from dramatic or traumatic singular cases and prove utterly unsuitable to meet the general need. They live, neurotically, in the now of their own lives, not even able to plan for their children’s futures, unable to develop true global strategies that might offer hope to the starving millions or those that suffer the tyranny of weaponry.
We watch the superficial razzmatazz of the American elections and see how this drawn-out show business, hyped event makes no demands upon presidential candidates to display intellectual quality and true social concern while furthering the careers of elite groups around them who will benefit substantially should they achieve power. It is the same whether you are in China, Africa, Pakistan, Britain or Eastern Europe. Everywhere. Always there is the constant disgrace of inequality and distress that politicians bring to the livelihoods and welfare of a substantial element of their peoples. A never-ending cycle of economic and social abuse.
How do we deal with this? Perhaps in a Brave New World we make it mandatory for the brightest of our population to undergo community service, to be trained and developed in social science, philosophy, politics and economics and from thence to running the country. Perhaps it would be better if we impose leadership upon the capable, than fester under the random yoke of the incapable. As with the Dalai Lama, our leaders might find they have become distinguished by their range of qualities and have a consequent duty to serve their people. And this would not have been as a result of blood, class or vested interest.