Honesty in politics.
Posted by Exile on September 21, 2006
I am sure we have all heard the term “political suicide”. Generally, the carrying out of any unpopular policy will be the end of a political career. For example, if you tell the Swedes that there isn’t enough money to hold up the welfare state and this will mean cutting benefits by thirty percent, and then do it, you are not a prime candidate for re-election in Sweden. No matter how much it is true and correct or necessary.
The Hungarian Prime Minister is now having to face the consequences of being honest. He was being candid in what he said, even if it was said in a somewhat clandestine environment that eventually leaked.
I wonder what prompted him to say it.
He probably only meant it as a wake up call to his failing government or his party political allies. He was telling them that we have “done nothing”, but in respect to what? Perhaps he was talking about the necessary monetary and social reforms that are absolutely necessary to Hungary that haven’t been made, simply because they would be unpopular with the electorate? Were the lies he so openly admitted to, meant solely as balm to the electoral mindset?
Which forces me to ask:
Do we really want honesty in politics? Or do we want to hear that all is well and that of course, everything is under control? How much “honesty” can we accept? And can we live with the consequences of allowing our politicians to do what is necessary, as opposed to what is comfortable, for us? Would we re-elect them if they did?
Think about that for a while. Then think of, maybe, Gorbatjov. He tried hard to reform Russia. So did Jeltsin. Not quick enough for some, too fast for others. Where are they now? But they did what was necessary at the time. There are doubtless other and better examples, but I think you get my point.
If our politicians were blatantly honest, and acted accordingly, I don’t believe they would last more than one term of office. They know this too. And that is perhaps why Europe and the US is slowly falling to bits under the weight of a “nanny state” mentality that will not be changed easily or quickly, if indeed ever, before it is too late to stop the hopeless collapse. It could be done, starting tomorrow. But the vast majority of the electorate would revolt at the ballot boxes, and new faces would have to be found to continue the process. Would they? I doubt it.
If religion was ever the opium of the people then it has been replaced now, by social welfare.
I think that self preservation will always overwhelm common good. I do not believe our elected leaders to be despotic, but at the same time, I do not believe that they are suicidal.
I think I understand Ferenc Gyurcsany perfectly. He knows what needs to be done. So do his political allies. But they aren’t going to be the ones to do it. Not unless the protesters outside the Hungarian Parliament become a support committee saying, “OK, you’re right. Do what you have to do. We accept the consequences”.
Honest politicians are not enough.
We have to have an honest electorate too.