But it's a mistake to blame this on the boys in short pants. They are the symptom, not the cause. The deeper problem is that too much power is now concentrated at the centre, rather than shared with parliament.
This post on elected officials, accountability and social responsibility by Don Lenihan makes a great companion piece to Andrew Coyne's article on free speech and sociology-committing from yesterday.
What's the connection between Parliamentarians speaking truth to power and everyone putting in the effort to understand each other?
Exactly. We have a system that is increasingly slanted towards competition, which is not the same thing as debate. When you're rushing to get ahead, you aren't interested in solving structural problems; you're only interested in getting what you can for yourself.
Parliament, for instance, has become steadily more competitive, with partisan tribalism usurping the democratic process. Has it resulted in better solutions, greater civic engagement or even constructive dialogue?
Nope. The reverse has happened; our democracy is actually atrophying as it is more and more neglected. We're getting narrower solutions that serve smaller percentages of the population, leading to worsening outcomes and beyond that, more and more people tuning out of politics entirely.
Or worse - charting their own path outside our system without the checks and balances democracy provides.
We know what happens when too much power concentrates in one place, because we've seen it happen countless time before. The inevitable result is the societal equivalent to an aneurysm that negatively impacts the whole system.
Which is the key word here - system. Like gravity, it doesn't matter how much we choose to deny the reality that society is a system and we are all part of that system - it remains true nonetheless. An objectivist view that denies there's any such thing as society theoretically fosters a competitive world where the strongest survive, but society isn't a food chain, it's an organism. When parts of the system are neglected, the whole suffers.
You don't cure an illness by treating the symptoms any more than you solve lead poisoning without looking up the pipe to see where the lead is coming from.
It's not the boys in short pants that are the problem, nor is it the politicians or even the public. People are people and, surprisingly enough, have a tendency to act like people. We aren't rational super beings with an meta-conscious ability not to be impacted by biology and environmental factors - prick us and we bleed, wrong us and we'll seek justice.
But when a problem repeats itself, one-off justice won't be enough; we'll start looking for causes and solutions. That's when competition starts to bleed into query and, eventually, comprehension.
Then, everything changes.
We're not quite at that point yet - but we're getting there.
Baby steps, don't you know.
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