Archives for posts with tag: government

A few days ago, during the General Election, I tweeted this:

It got a lot of retweets because the politicians I mentioned represent the extreme cases of those who are less interested in national politics than they are about pandering to the needs of their own local community. They are caricatures, easily lampooned and despised. To them, it’s all about Kerry and Tipperary, and the rest of the country can take a running jump.

But, honestly, I’m somewhat conflicted about all this. While I despise the gombeen image, I think the local nature of politics in this country serves us very well.

It’s important, I think, that we know the people we are voting for. If someone is effective on a local level, then we get to see through the slogans. We get an insight into the people themselves. We derive something about their character. The voting process can winnow the best of these from the less able. In the main, good people are sent to Leinster House.

Another thing to celebrate is that our political process is rooted in the life and history of our country.  We are never more than 10 feet away from a local politician here. This helps to mitigate the sense of disenfranchisement so keenly felt across the Western world. In Knocknaheeney, a deprived suburb of Cork I drive through almost every day, there was a palpable sense of energy in the run-up to the election. The next Dáil will contain many people who will represent the voices of the deprived, and this is a good thing.

The system can result in narrow-minded councillors topping the polls, but what’s amazing is that, more often than not, it delivers quite good people too. Michael Lowry, Mattie McGrath and the Healy-Raes represent the extreme of our local system, but that doesn’t mean that the system in general is dreadfully wrong. It might actually be the best thing to come from 1916 – something that makes us who we are: democrats by instinct and nature.

Even though the next government is still uncertain, I am quite optimistic about the outcome. Ireland is not built for grand overthrows but evolutionary change is quite possible. Our local system of politics, with its abundant compromises and contact with the struggles of real people, makes such change possible.

 

I had a brief chat with my son this evening. He told me that there was some kind of initiative going on where kids were going to learn politics as part of their final year exams. At first I thought it was a dumb idea. Surely, kids could learn about that by picking up a newspaper or watching the news on TV?

But when I thought about it some more, I changed my mind. And it’s not just because of the obvious question: I mean, what kid reads newspapers or watches TV news these days?

Here’s the real problem: our generation and the generation before us have made a complete balls of looking after the world. We have all these really serious issues, like climate change, poverty, inequality, radicalisation, racism, sexism, terrorism, access to medicines and drinking water, overuse of antibiotics, biodiversity decline and ocean acidification, to name but a few. Huge problems. And who have we chosen to solve these problems for us? In the main, a bunch of space cadets.

Our generations, when given a chance, have blown it, choosing instead to elect populist dickheads again and again and again and yet again. Instead of electing someone who might know a thing or two about managing complex problems, we’ve gone repeatedly for the political equivalent of the drug pusher. Yeah man, Pop this Pill and All your Worries will be Gone. The Problem is Not You; It’s Them.

I despair for the future if our kids grow up with no interest in politics, because we’ve left their generation in the invidious position of having to clean up after us. They are the ones who’ll be left with no fish in the seas. They are the people who’ll need to deal with all the carbon dioxide in the air and the oceans. They are the ones who will need to tackle youth unemployment and unrest and desperate social inequality. And all because the incompetents we elected did precisely nothing about it when they had the chance to. In fact, they did worse than nothing: they made these bad situations even more abysmal than they were.

If the next generation grow up in our footsteps, apathetic about the world they live in, they won’t even have the language to tackle the problems we’ve left them with. Instead, if they vote at all, they’ll be left voting for blowhards in the footsteps of Berlusconi and Trump, only because nobody in their right minds would enter politics in a fit. Imagine this: George W Bush is now considered by many commentators to be a moderate. A moderate. My god.

I have one caveat about giving the next generation a sense of political awareness. If they ever realise what our lot did on our watch, they’ll immediately have us all locked up. But then again, it’s nothing more than we deserve.

The following series of entries is a time-capsule of sorts. Today in 2009 I have many questions that may someday have answers, so  I’m writing these postings to anyone who might be bored enough to come across this blog in ten or twenty years time, i.e. 2019 or afterwards. The list of questions covers technology, economics, politics and space and war. I will lay out some open questions that may be resolved by the time we reach the third decade of the century – well, here’s hoping anyway.

First off: some international politics.

Zimbabwe
Robert MugabeIn 2000, Robert Mugabe began to show his true tyrannical colours when he seized white-owned farms, disrupted elections and intimidated opponents, with the aim of staying in power by whatever means necessary. His actions since then have resulted in an economic collapse of apocalyptic proportions. He won’t live forever, and the suffering that he and his cronies have inflicted will not go unpunished forever. So what will the eventual demise of his regime be like? Will the implosion follow quickly from his death, or will Mugabe and his entourage take flight to Morocco or Saudi Arabia like ruthless dictators of his ilk before him? Will his replacement be worse and more insane than himself? Time will tell.

North Korea

North KoreaThis tiny country, abutting some of the wealthiest and fast-developing countries in east Asia, has long been known as the last Stalinist dictatorship in the World. Ruled by the so-called “Eternal President” Kim Il-sung, and then by his unstable (and possibly now dead) son, Kim Jong-il, this outpost of paranoia has proceeded to develop nuclear warheads and to threaten its neighbours regularly, acting more like a spoilt child than a mature state in its negotiations with other countries. Meanwhile its people starve. Human rights are non-existent, and it is believed that concentration camps are in operation within its borders. This abomination of a regime will some day come to an end. But how? Will it be fast and painless, slow and gangrenous, or could it possibly end amidst the white heat of a nuclear fireball?

Next up:  Space.

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