Monday, August 20, 2012

How Politics Works

The politics of fear is, in fact, the only politics there is. Fear is the politician's prime motivation, greatest priority and defining characteristic. The only way to understand the progression of political life is to understand that the people we elect to govern us live their lives consumed by terror, and their every decision is informed, coloured and driven by their fear of losing the fragile grip they have on whatever amount of power and status they've managed to accrue up to now.

So this is how a politician's life goes:

1. They enter politics, full of enthusiasm and ambition, with big plans for what they can do to make things better and leave their mark on public life.

2. They discover that there are certain rules to the political game, and if you don't abide by the rules, you don't get to play. Realising that unless they are in the game, they will never get to implement any of their grand ideas, they bend a little, play by the rules, and get in the game.

3. They gain a little bit of power, and are all ready to start doing good, when they discover that if they try to start doing good right now, the power they gained will be threatened. Realising that unless they retain the power they've gained, they'll never be able to start doing good, they put the good stuff on the backburner, and keep playing the game, ready to really make a difference as soon as their position is consolidated.

4. They rise even higher, and are now in a position to put forward their grand ideas.

5. They find that nobody else wants their grand ideas, and if they push ahead with their grand ideas, they'll never rise higher, and someone else with less grand ideas will come forward to take their place. Offered the chance to pursue slightly less grand ideas, they take it, because they realise that unless they keep their position, there'll be no grand ideas at all, and what's the use of having grand ideas if you have no power to do anything about it?

6. Nobody wants the slightly less grand ideas after all - would they like to pursue something a bit less grand again?

7. And again?

8. And again?

9. Their grand ideas obliterated completely, they manage to take a tiny, almost imperceptible bit of action on something of little importance, and feel a warm glow of achievement. They have played the game and Made A Difference. For this they are rewarded with more power.

10. In a position of genuine, lofty power, they look back at all the plans they had to shake the country up and usher in a new age. But if they do that, they might lose that position of genuine, lofty power, and how can you shake the country up unless you're in a position of genuine, lofty power?

11. They take a look at their options, and discover that absolutely nothing can be done without threatening their position of genuine, lofty power.

12. Given that nothing can be achieved without being in power, they swiftly decide to do nothing, because only by doing nothing can they keep power, and only by being in power can anything be done.

13. And so, with a restful conscience, to bed.


Allan Richardson said...

Benevolent dictatorship, anyone?
Anyone at all?

Doug Quixote said...

Sad but all too true. Anyone - anyone at all - who gains a position of power will try to stay there.

It has always been thus.

And probably always will be, so don't lose any sleep over it, Ben.

BartyLobethal said...

Yes, that seems to be pretty much how it works.