Is This an Impossible Dream?

I have always maintained that politics is a vocation.
If one were not genuinely called to serve, individuals could scarcely be expected to put up with the slings and arrows of political office. However, we do it willingly and with equanimity, in the hope our contribution to public life will actually make a difference to the nation.

Yet politicians are viewed with an almost unparalleled level of cynicism and distrust by the electorate. Coupled with these feelings there seems to be real despair towards the political system in general.

It’s obvious at every general election that many voters resent the fact they have to take ten minutes out of their Saturday to determine the political leadership of the country.

Clearly people feel disenfranchised by politics and the cumbersome nature of government. It’s almost as if government doesn’t have the same relevance to their lives that it might have had decades ago.

At first thought, this might suggest that the state is getting less involved in people’s lives. From my perspective, if this were true, it would be a good thing.

However, I suspect the reverse is actually true. Government seems to have become something Australians are resigned to living with rather than hoping to benefit from. In many minds, the state has actually become too big, too unwieldy and too cumbersome to be relevant to our everyday lives.

In an era of almost instant access to most everything; where there is a readily available solution to your material, physical and emotional needs, the state represents an anachronism – hardly applicable to modern life.

We seem to have given up on expecting efficient service from our government and its departments. The bureaucracy has become so large, so all-pervasive, that it seems almost impossible to change.

And that is a problem, not only for the Australian people but for every single one of our politicians and their standing within the community.

It seems that every time one of our elected representatives promises reform, change and improvement, their words are dismissed in the public mind almost as soon as they enter the public arena.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe many Australians have a real desire to see change in the way our government goes about its business. However, they realise that changing the direction of government is like steering an ocean liner with a Paddle Pop stick.

Also, despite the best of intentions, there seems to be less and less an individual politician can actually deliver. The flip side is that the less authority and power they hold to enact change, the less respect they receive from their constituents.

This emasculation of politicians has come about because the state has become so large, so cumbersome and so inefficient that it has almost taken on a life of its own – separate from the elected representatives.

Frankly, I think we need to change this. We need to minimise the size of the bureaucracy and put Australia on the path to smaller government and lower tax.

We need to restore the public faith in our politicians and our political processes by returning some power and responsibility into their hands.

We need to destroy the perception that politicians will say and do anything to get elected, and then conveniently hide behind the inaction of the giant beast of bureaucracy as an excuse for failing to deliver.

By re-establishing this trust and accountability between the voters and their representatives, we can hope to inspire more people to get involved in public affairs and make a difference to the future direction of our nation.

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