Friday, 5 June 2015

The evolving nature of political debate has reached the jurassic age.

This article from The Guardian ("Tony Abbott's 'with me or agin me' rhetoric cheapens citizenship debate") is a great example of the politics that I hate. It is one side saying either you support my (as yet unannounced) plan to be 'tough on x', or you are in favour of 'x' being completely unfettered.

Replace 'x' with crime, immigrants, refugees, terrorists, or anything, and you end up with the same problem.

If the other side of the debate is not skillful and, more importantly, loquacious, then they are going to be drowned out. If they try to 'pussy-foot' around the issue so as not to be seen 'in favour of x', then they will never be able to truly debate the issue. They might be against 'x' in principle, but not support the proposal of the government.

This is where we truly lose the benefits of a political democracy. If one side is allowed to define the debate as X vs (negativeX), then anyone proposing Y as a possible alternative to X is simply lumped in with the terrorists.

I would love to see a political system whereby debate focussed on policy and evidence, and truly discussing ideas with a view to improving them.

I suspect that our current system unintentionally forces politicians to present ideas with absolute conviction, even before those ideas are fully formed. Therefore, you can't say "What about we try ABC to achieve XYZ?" unless you already have a fully formed plan. I think we lose something by not saying "I want to achieve XYZ, and I thought maybe ABC could do it, what do you think?"

How much better would things be if the opposition said "That's a good idea, let's see how we can make it better" rather than "That's stupid and you are stupid."

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