Greg Rudd, who was forced to share a bedroom in his youth with brother Kevin (which might explain a few things), has written a piece in The Australian under the headline “Let us vote for common sense”, wherein he calls for a new political party, the Common Sense Party, to replace Liberals and Labor. There will be no factions in the Common Sense Party and no career politicians, because people would only run at the urging of their friends. Why Mr Rudd believes the Australian people could be bothered to form a brand-new, nation-wide political party before they could be bothered to put a little pressure to reform on the two major parties is beyond me, especially one of them.
The truth is that people don’t really object to career politicians. Nor should they. Everyone braying for “democratic reform”, whether it’s the anti-establishment wave keeping Donald Trump atop the Republican Party’s popularity polls or whatever Greg Rudd is on about, is confused about what they really want from government.
Think about it really hard for a few minutes you realize that professional politicians are completely necessary. In absolutely no other industry is experience counted against a candidate. If you needed heart surgery you wouldn’t say to your cardiologist, “Don’t give me one of those career heart surgeons. You can’t trust those guys. Give me someone who’s not beholden to Big Medicine.” That would be ridiculous. The problem isn’t that politicians have too much experience. It’s that they’re not doing what we want them to do.
Which, just by the by, isn’t always fair criticism either. Populist/reform movements, like the Tea Party in the US, rage against the Republican Party for putting up “establishment” candidates for president — here think of Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney — blatantly ignoring the fact that each of those won their primaries by popular vote. It seems never to have occurred to the pitchfork crowd that most Republicans might actually prefer “establishment” candidates to their own rough fare. (Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and the like.) But the insurgents were much louder and more vulgar on social media, which they understood as entitling them to dictate terms to the Republican leadership. The democratic process be damned!
But I digress. Enough of these romantic reformist gestures! As we said, if people cared enough about our democratic system to push for even the simplest, most localized reforms, we wouldn’t have to try to reinvent the wheel. (“Introducing iWheel: the smarter, faster way to wheel — from the people who brought you Google Thongs.”) The real problem is that we elect politicians to four-year terms and then are shocked when they don’t tax, ban, or cut everything we hate.
Before you ask: No, the solution isn’t to become complacent with our system. The solution is for us to be really honest about what makes us miserable, so our politicians can actually set about taxing, banning, and cutting them into oblivion. It would be so easy to do, too, because what people — well, sane people anyway — really want is good taste. They would like the state to be unobtrusive, almost to the point of negligence, butting in only to niggle and nag on trivialities. Government’s raison d’être should be keeping us suitable for polite society and becoming general nuisances to one another. It will only enforce those little points of decency that are universally accepted, almost to the point of cliché– violations of which, incidentally, are the thing that make modern society so totally insufferable.
Imagine, if you will: a 38-year-old father of two, let’s call him Jez Jameson, who diverts $300 from his child-support payments to make his hoonmobile sound even like the booming dawn of Judgment Day. Let’s make it so that Officer John Smith can revoke his license under the Noise Pollution Act. Mr. Jameson’s license will be reinstated when he acquires a less monstrous vehicle and some respect for the eardrums of others.
“What are you, the manners police?” we can imagine Jez whining when pulled over.
“Yes,” Officer Simpson booms, “we’re the manners police alright.” To impress the importance of good manners, the officer gives him a spritz of pepper spray by way of encouraging civility.
Or picture Jez’s girlfriend, Dakota, who’s pushing their daughter Candy Crush Saga Jameson in a pram, clad only in a singlet, yoga pants and tattoos. Under the No One Wants to See That For God’s Sake Act, Officer Jane Doe fits Dakota with a standard-issue, floral-print muumuu, which (mercifully) leaves a great deal to the imagination.
“Who are you, the fashion police?” Matilda demands.
“Yes,” replies Officer Doe, who proceeds to issue a temporary birth certificate renaming their daughter as Charlotte Elizabeth Diana Jameson, valid until such time as Dakota and Jez determine a suitable human-being name for their child.
Under the I’m Trying to Have a F*****g Conservation Here Act, any restaurant found to be playing music (except for tasteful, instrumental jazz in the restrooms) will be subject to heavy fines and its manager tarred and feathered.
A Special Taskforce for Pedestrian Etiquette will be dispatched to major commuter hubs like Sydney’s Town Hall Station to savagely baton any group found sauntering four abreast, with related patrols enforcing the same standards of public ambulation in the nearby Queen Victoria Building.
The What the Hell Do You Really Have to Say, You Insignificant Worm Act will make texting while walking punishable by having one’s smartphone confiscated and/or being pushed into traffic.
And so on.
One can easily imagine libertarians getting themselves into a tizzy. “You can’t infringe on another man’s right to be tacky and obnoxious!” they would surely crow. Too bad. People don’t have the right to make the world uglier and more unpleasant than it need be. We’re lucky to get eighty years on this planet. Do we really want to spend them suffering fools, cads and public nuisances?
So to hell with the Common Sense Party, I say, and up the Common Courtesy Party. Ten years down the line, when going out in public is no longer a thing of misery and existential dread, we’ll wonder why we didn’t elect them sooner.