'Politics is essentially about people," Enda Kenny told the various movers and shakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, the same venue where last year he told them the problem here was that "people went mad borrowing".
Politicians tend to talk in sound bites when they want to sound purposeful, a bit like: 'Let's Get Ireland Working', which was the Fine Gael 2011 election slogan; or 'One Ireland – Jobs, Reform, Fairness', which was Labour's.
Politics is actually from the Greek word politikos, meaning 'of, for, or relating to citizens', so, in a way, Kenny was right, that is what politics is supposed to be about.
These days, however, politics is far removed from the public square in Athens where people met to conduct business, debate issues and drive the decisions of government.
Rather, the people now regard government to be about red tape, long lines and cold and distant bureaucracies, as the US Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra has said.
"What is the alternative to politics?" Pat Rabbitte asked recently, when he launched into a tirade against the "all-pervasive negativity" of the media: in other words, what is the alternative to relating to people?
There is no alternative; like the poor, or the rich at Davos, where the theme of this year's meeting was 'Resilient Dynamism' – go figure – politics will always be with us.
What Rabbitte meant to ask was: what is the alternative to democracy?
The answer is not as he feared, that we hand over the country, and economy, to a form of dictatorship, an outcome that has already happened – it is called the Troika.
There is only one real alternative to democracy and it is this: democracy that works; that is, democracy that relates to the people, not just once every five years, to be then ignored, but all of the time and in every imaginable way.
This is where the often-ridiculed issue of openness, integrity, transparency and accountability in public administration comes in, what is called open government, to which the Coalition here has paid mere lip service.
A worldwide movement, open government involves the use of new technologies – the digital revolution – to monitor public governance, such as the promotion of access to data upon which government decisions are made, like, for example, the location of primary health-care centres.
Among other requirements, to become a member of open government, countries must commit to independent reports on their
progress. Although far from independent, Kenny had promised to deliver a report card on his ministers, another promise resiled from.
The Troika may have given an implicit report, but it would be interesting – would it not? – to receive an independent report on, say, the Health Minister James Reilly after almost two years in office.
Last weekend, Dr Reilly also chose to join the chorus at Cabinet, which has chosen to blame the media for the poor standing of the Government with the public. "The media seems to be consumed with the negative," said the man who presides over the shambles that remains the Department of Health, the man whose personal financial affairs have also given rise to some concern.
In his criticism, Dr Reilly said the media "seems to believe this headline will sell more of its product" to be the motivation behind what is a hardline attitude to the 'politics as usual' as is on offer from this Government of grey men.
In that regard, his view is shared by Justice Minister Alan Shatter who, in his recent announcement to revisit proposed privacy legislation, claimed that sections of the media here believed public figures had "no right to privacy" and were "fair game" in the pursuit of profit.
Given his pathological hatred of the Sunday Independent, it is, perhaps, unsurprising that Vincent Browne, the commercially unsuccessful former editor of now mostly defunct publications, has also sided with the political elite on this issue.
In an article last week, Browne also said that concern as to the intentions of Shatter in this regard was a "contrivance to justify the boosting of corporate profits", an argument that ignores the reality that, without profit, many more publications, like his, would be defunct.
In any event, a recent Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll found that 44 per cent of voters here are inclined not to vote anymore for any of the mainstream political parties.
In the last General Election, which took place in the teeth of the economic crisis, the turnout was just over 70 per cent, a significant increase on the lowest turnout at just over 62 per cent in 2002.
It may have been that voters wanted to be rid of Fianna Fail, but still, between one-quarter and one-third of the electorate here do not vote, and almost half who do vote now reject the mainstream parties.
This shocking state of affairs is not the fault of the media – far from it – but of the political elite, who have only themselves to blame for the manner in which politics, and democracy, have been debased, not just in Ireland but throughout the Western world.
Here is another quote, which also relates to this crisis of trust in the Western world, a crisis that the political elite has refused to acknowledge, let alone confront.
"The Irish financial crisis could be summarised in one word, debt – national debt and personal debt," Finance Minister Michael Noonan declared in his most recent Budget.
The Western world, that is, America and Europe, which includes Ireland – in fact, Ireland more than most – is mired in debt, personal and sovereign, borrowed to bankroll a society consumed by consumerism for at least three generations. An obvious question arises: why?
As the radical libertarian MP Douglas Carswell has argued, the West is broke financially because Western democracy has failed politically. He is correct.
In Ireland, the political elite has effectively outsourced the business of government to the new governing elites of civil servants, trade unions, bankers, academics and technocrats answerable only to themselves.
In the process, they have built up a virtual State within a State; unaccountable authorities, bureaucracies and quangos that are answerable to nobody, but which consume the taxes of people for services that resolutely hide behind red tape and cold and distant lines of communication.
If Rabbitte, and others, want to know the reason behind this all-pervasive negatively towards politics, therein lies his answer: politics as we know it has failed.
Rather than blame the media, the evolving traditional and new, the political elite would be better advised to truly embrace "we the people", that is, the digital revolution, which is blowing to dust almost everything they once held to be true.