Why go into politics?
July 29, 2016 4 Comments
Why, indeed? Would you? I worked for Reagan back in ’76, as some know, and it disillusioned me for life. No, not Reagan, but the nonsense involved in politics. It’s interesting to read about (and write about) but that about all the involvement I (and for that matter) my integrity can stand. Here’s James Allan, writing about it in The Spectator.
The state of politics here, and in the United Kingdom, and in the United States, raises the question of why people go into politics. What is motivating our elected representatives?
Of course there is no one answer to that. People differ. Their motivations differ. And their ability and inclination to navigate the system and get selected to run as a candidate for a plausible party varies too. So this is not really an empirical question. When it is asked it’s really being asked on a normative level, on the ‘ought’ level of why the questioner thinks people should go into politics.
Here’s a better way of approaching the issue. Ask yourself who you think have been the most successful politicians in the post-War period in, say, the UK. Leave aside your political druthers and in my view you’d have to put Maggie Thatcher at or near the top of any such list. She was immensely successful in reforming the British economy (whether you like those reforms, or not). I think you’d also have to put Clement Atlee on the list too, at least as long as there is a British National Health Service. And my third pick would probably be Nigel Farage.
That might strike you as odd at first glance. The other two made it to the top of the slippery pole and became Prime Ministers. Farage never even made it into the Westminster Parliament. He was elected to the European Parliament, but never, despite trying, to the UK Parliament. And yet his influence has been immense. He set up a political party solely to get the Brits out of the EU. At the time he did so, people laughed at him.When he got elected to the European Parliament in Strasbourg as a member of the United Kingdom Independence Party, they laughed at him again. But it was Farage and his party that forced David Cameron to hold the Brexit referendum. And after that Brexit vote, to quote the man himself, ‘they’re not laughing any more’.
And then Farage recently quit politics. He’d accomplished, or at least barring backsliding by the Tories under Theresa May he looks to have accomplished, what he went into politics to achieve. So he quit. On his own terms he was astoundingly successful. If you are a pro-Brexit person like me, then you will also judge Farage to have been a great force for good for the UK, and for the wider democratic world. But notice that I am ranking him as a much more successful politician than David Cameron, than Tony Blair, than John Major, and a coterie of others who made it to the top and became PM, not to mention the myriad of those who only made it into Cabinet and no higher.
Now mind, he mostly talks about Australia here, and if you don’t know, the Australian Liberal Party are the conservatives, but it is true in all our countries lately. What did happen to the men of principle?
Sadly, I suspect it is our fault, we have put so much emphasis on our free cheese from government, that in an effort to survive, principles have been hounded out. That bodes ill for our future as free men and women, and so we’d best start looking for the way back from this crass, mercantilistic, cul-de-sac we find ourselves in.