Politics of the absurd

The Taranaki Daily News notes that in politics an absurdity isn’t a handicap:

Napoleon Bonaparte said that about 200 years ago . . .Given the political drama that has unfolded in the past few weeks, that statement has an uncanny prescience and the timing of its publication is both poignant and troubling.

But in the context of the turmoil surrounding Winston Peters, Helen Clark and the story behind the grease that smooths the wheels of our democracy, Bonaparte’s offering alludes to a wider truth that we must face in the next few weeks.

If, as Bob Jones points out in his column today, Labour is a real chance to win the General Election tipped to be called for November, does that mean that, finally, we have reluctantly conceded that politicians can and do lie, cheat and steal as part of their job and this affliction must be accepted; like an involuntary muscle reflex that must be accommodated and tolerated?

Is this absurdity of avarice and treachery in public service not a handicap, but more of a default position? And therefore, how much weight do we place on honesty and integrity when standing, marker pen poised, before our voting forms?

. . . Have we just become too accustomed to, too beaten down by, too many lies and falsehoods; an innocence that became a scepticism that mutated into a grudging, resigned cynicism.

. . . Maybe Helen Clark is counting on the same moral blindness from her supporters, her nation; that we will forgive her moment of political madness and impropriety because we are sophisticated enough to know that lying and deceit is as much a part of being a politician as kissing babies and shaking hands.

If that’s the case, then shame on her and shame on us. There should be more to surviving in politics than clinging on to a drowning man and hoping everyone else will look the other way.

Not everyone’s looking the other way but the election will be the only way to know if there’s enough of us who still believe that honesty and integrity matter.

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