I like being outside the fray of party politics. I wasn’t born with a sufficient capacity for compromise to believe that any political party has all the answers to all questions. And yet, equally, I can admire those who can make the sacrifice to take part in this process. It is, for better or worse, at the heart of democratic politics.
That demands that it be done well. This requirement is predicated on three things. The fist is a willingness to pretend you have the answer to all things. The second is a leadership that knows this is not true and which as a result respects its opponents. The third is an acute appreciation of the fact that compromise in pursuit of a higher goal, whilst saving face, is the ultimate political aim: nothing really happens without the accommodation of others.
So what has gone wrong? Three things. The first is the denial of choice. The neoliberal hegemony has refused to consider the possibility that it is wrong. It is this refusal that has led us to the political crisis we are in.
That leads to the lack of respect we now see in politics reflected in the refusal to recognise that some politicians have a valuable point to make, even when their position is outside the mainstream.
And third? That is the refusal to compromise even in the face of evidence. This has now seemingly destroyed the ability to permit another to save face when doing so.
Passion, dogma and steadfastness, come what may, are not what makes party politics.
Conviction based on wisdom, understanding and compassion does.
But these qualities remain in far too short supply, even if they’re not quite out of stock, yet.
And that’s the party political problem.