As I walked past Parliament today, I recalled a rather childish mocking document I wrote a while ago questioning the value of politicians. Approximately:
” Today, the PAP unveiled another set of candidates, most interesting of which was this twinkie in the city, the 27 year old wife of the 40 year old principal secretary to the prime minister. They don’t exactly make it difficult to be cynical about corruption do they?
The interesting thing about her was of course her age. She is 27, which means that she has only been working as a consultant for 4 years. She graduated with a BA in psychology, has no higher qualifications and 4 years of work experience. How does that make her qualified to be a politician? Does that not imply that, statistically speaking, loads of people are qualified to become politicians also? Another manifestation of this issue is the irritating rise of “I’m you” politicians. Why on earth would I want a politician who’s like me?
Which led me to wonder: what exactly do politicians do? If the drama of the US Congress and Senate and the UK House of Representatives and Lords is anything to go by, they spend time digesting arguments from various experts and decide on policies (legislate). Which raises the question: how well can these group of non-geniuses understand these issues in this limited time? Also, why don’t we get the experts to decide on these issues in the first place?
The best I can come up with is that politicians understand our political system which is to prevent abuse of power (irrelevant in a place without such strict checks), and provide some sort of moral leadership (link to interfluidity); raising the question, that is, what makes our politicians morally qualified to do this?
Another thing that I cannot stand about politicians besides their apparent uselessness is how they make a big shit of understanding the common people (the little people!). Are we paying them to understand? And if understanding is so important to policy-making, shouldn’t it be a required skill, unworthy of praise anyway? If understanding is not something they all have, it is clear that politicians are as mortal as you and me, just pompous enough to believe otherwise and stupid enough to advertise that fact.”
It occurs to me that in a democracy, one of the functions of a legislative council is to reconcile differences between parties and to expose as many view points to the debate as possible. Now, if a party aims to monopolise the political discourse, they will make themselves more redundant. If there is no serious divergence from the party line, just how important is this parliamentary pantomime?