Politicians out of touch? No, they’re too much in touch. That’s the problem.

A spine, a spine, my republic for a spine! The truth is, our political system isn’t up to it. In a global crisis, when leaders with vision and technical ability are needed, what have we got? Local panderers, that’s what. We have over 1000 elected officials in Ireland, of whom less than 45 have any personal daily ability to make a decision that effects people’s lives in a meaningful way.

Strangely, that’s how we like it.  Take local government. Every party’s councillors complain about the county managers being able to overrule councillors. Yet nearly every party has been in government, and none of them have changed it. Why? Because deep down they feel that if the people of  Leitrim or Dublin Fingal were actually let run the county with the quality of councillors they elect, they’d thrash the gaff. Look at Noel Dempsey and waste management. When he gave councillors the powers to run their own affairs, they actually refused to make decisions. Refused! Because they wanted to be councillors but not actually be responsible for stuff!

It’s a uniquely Irish thing, a throwback to the Dublin Castle mentality, the idea that we vote and elect councillors, and they become councillors, and yet neither of us is actually responsible for those actions, as if it is all the doing of “Them up there.”  

So what do we do?

Here’s a thought: 

When a candidate calls for your vote in the next five months, ask him or her this question:

“What do you think will be the most unpopular decision you will make as councillor?”

If they won’t answer, they’re dodgy panderers, and shouldn’t be councillors.

If they can’t answer, they haven’t put any thought into it and don’t deserve to be councillors.

If they do answer, well, maybe there is hope. A real leader does not fear unpopularity, and to paraphrase a line in “Gladiator”  we don’t need Men of the People, we need Men for the People.

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