I am unhealthily fascinated by politics. It is an interest that is, I’m sure, condemned as bizarre and distasteful by the mainstream. Politics is, for so many, something which interrupts the normal rhythm of life every few years, an unpleasant diversion that takes the form of occasional rolling of the eyes and yelling at the television.
Yes, I roll my eyes and yell at the television. But I am entranced by the candidates, the factionalism, the name-calling, the outright lies, the idealism, the voting patterns, the shameless pandering to progressive and conservative alike, the issues that make the rusted-on and swinging voters tick, the appeals to common sense and decency from the most tawdry and inane, and – most importantly of all, for me – the complicated and seemingly nonsensical structures and traditions that accrete over centuries. I also try to keep up with the trends outside my own region and country, and can happily wax lyrical on the Westminster system, bicameral systems, 1PP versus alternative voting, direct versus indirect elections, psephology and.. well, yes, it’s not healthy, I know.
(My wife is very forgiving, particularly when she asks a quick question about something she saw on the news and I launch into a ten-minute explanation that involves the Magna Carta, a working knowledge of the French Revolution, and quite possibly a whiteboard.)
Politics is, at it’s heart, an ugly, gruesome business that represents both the best and worst of humanity all at once. It has also always been this way. To whit, I heartily encourage any who share my interest to read this article from the Nov. ’10 edition of Quadrant Online.
In it, we learn that the traditions that New South Wales’ parliamentary system is built upon include physical bullying, unspeakably vile language, taking advantage of sleeping foes and furniture-smashing. Which is, for those of you who know anything about New South Wales’ current political landscape, absolutely no surprise whatsoever.