Monday, May 6, 2013
I don’t envy politicians. I would not like their job. I most certainly would not like the pressure under which they are placed by the media, their own party colleagues, the opposition, and us. I can be tough on politicians at times, but I also appreciate the difficulty of their task.
I once stood as a candidate for a minor political party in Australia. Actually I stood twice, once at the state level and once at the national level. It was something of an indictment of the party that they would accept someone as young, inexperienced and incompetent as myself as a candidate. I would no longer ever wish to belong to a political party that would accept me as a member, to paraphrase Groucho Marx. I was, indeed, young and inexperienced, and surrounded by people who were, for the most part, just as young and inexperienced. I should point out that, although this was a minor party, it was not a fringe, weirdo, whacko party. It was not the “Rescue-Kittens-out-of-Trees Party”, or the “Bring-back-Darning Party”. We represented a small, but fairly mainstream, alternative. We boasted some quite well known and well respected people among our ranks and candidates. We actually already had several members in the upper house of both the state and federal parliaments.
The federal election in which I took part was actually a by-election, and, as such, attracted quite a lot of media attention. I was interviewed on radio, and even had a five second grab on television. I attracted further attention because I was, at the time, also a practising Anglican minister. I tried my best not to embarrass myself or anyone else, but, the sad truth was that I knew very little about any specific policies (even my own party’s) and was driven and sustained only by a rather vague idealism.
That idealism suffered somewhat as a result of this process. I was supported by a team of people who really did not know what they were doing. We managed to offend the national leader of the party, a senator at the time, by not inviting her to participate in the campaign. I say “we”, but I really had little say about what took place. I was scarcely in a position to make sensible suggestions about what we should do. The crunch came for me when, at a campaign meeting one evening, it was seriously suggested that I should walk along a major highway in Adelaide in my underwear, holding up a sign to the effect that “they” (the government, presumably) were ripping the shirts off our backs. I, at first politely, then not so politely, refused to participate in such a stunt. The people of Adelaide were spared.
During that by-election I seem to remember that the candidates of both the “Rescue-Kittens-out-of-Trees Party” and the “Bring-back-Darning Party” (names are changed to protect the innocent) polled better than I did. It was in the course of all this that I became somewhat jaded about the whole political process. But all credit to those who stick with it.