The Potential of Politics

President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address 2015

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“A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.
A better politics is one where we debate without demonising each other; where we talk issues and values
and principles and facts rather than ‘gotcha’ moments or trivial gaffes or fake controversies that
have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.”      

It’s time to clarify something. When I say I enjoy politics, I don’t mean the embarrassing political scene in Australia, I mean the science of it. Politics excites me because it’s an opportunity and a catalyst for change. I’m excited about it’s potential, it’s future and what it can become.

We are currently at the tipping point with issues that expand beyond comprehension. But they needn’t dwarf us. This is the time to exercise our minds and negotiate, make compromises and achieve results. Whether it be for ourselves, our family, our friends or our country – these problems affect all of us.

Climate change. Inequality. Terrorism. International relations. Welfare. To name a few.

Money is going out faster than it’s coming in, people are getting older, education is buckling and climate change is looming overhead. We can’t deny these issues anymore.

Politics has become almost a reality show in Australia – we talk about it as if it’s a trivial issue. For a time I was willing to laugh alongside you – about Tony Abbott’s budgey smugglers, Julia Gillard’s voice and John Howard’s eyebrows. But the jokes over and it’s now on us. It’s now time to engage in heated, healthy and productive debates, leaving behind old institutions and regularities in order to make way for the future.

Our governments are floundering in media and public scrutiny – it’s like Cirque du Soleil came to town and never left. In the midst of these seemingly trivial issues, we are unable to reach the crux of politics – the ability to manage issues effectively and humanely. Instead we have become so cynical about the political system that we just peg blame on the politicians and hang the institution out to dry.

Within the media pressing political stories are told and archived within hours. Like a brief relationship, we pack up our minds and move on. But there are people who store these memories and use them as motivation. These are the thinkers of the free world, not the mindless nine to five workers who live life on replay.

“I fall in love everyday with ideas and sensations, people I see. I hold them long enough to let them go, but I keep them in my heart and my soul.” – Atticus

The truth is, we’re to blame. We’ve become complacent in forgetting what matters and take our democratic rights for granted. Just today, a woman complained to me about being “forced” to vote. This offended every fibre of my being – our opinions are more valuable than ever. Voting is our way to affect true and rapid change. A direct way of reviewing the shortfalls in health, education, fiscal policy, welfare and climate change.

Instead of walking away from our problems let’s talk, debate and resolve them. Conversations are avenues for change, not burdens. Just this week in his State of the Union Address, President Obama described the potential of politics, recounting a political utopia where past practices are retired and a new, productive landscape is born.

“Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns…imagine if we did something different (Obama, 2015).”

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