Monday 22 December 2014

You get the politicians you deserve, what did you do wrong?

Published 15/05/2014 | 02:30

Jane Horgan-Jones
Brian O'Driscoll and Fr Peter McVerry in image used by Cllr Jane Horgan Jones
Can't win: Ryan Tubridy

One of the most pointless and self-defeatingly stupid traits to hold is automatic, reflexive cynicism. We see it everywhere we go and in the people we meet – the ones who have nothing good to say about anything, even when they don't know what they're talking about. It's a state of perma-adolescence where your inner 14-year-old remains convinced that everything is shite and the only rational response is to sneer and belittle.

That is fine when you're 14. Because when you're 14, everything is shite. In fact, if you reach that age without coming to the conclusion that everything is rubbish and other people are either fools or simply evil, then you'd be a rather unusual teenager.

The point is that there are times when cynicism helps as a coping mechanism in a strange and hostile world. And then you grow out of it.

It's important to be sceptical of everything you hear and see, obviously. But the sight of supposed adults who think that cynicism is the hip, knowing response to every situation is both tedious and dangerous.

Let's put it this way – if you told a cynic that a scientific survey proved Americans were actually, officially, biologically, the most stupid people on the planet, they would be delighted.

On the other hand, if you said the same thing to a sceptic, they'd ask to see the evidence before coming to their own conclusion.

That's why cynicism is so appalling – it's merely unthinking incredulity masquerading as world weariness.

But Lord, it's hard not to be cynical when it comes to so many Irish politicians.

I don't know who holds the other in the lowest regard, but it's a close call – do politicians privately have as much contempt for us as we publicly do for them?

Anyone who has ever spent any time in the company of professional politicians will realise that they are different to the rest of us.

I don't care what political flag they might be flying, they tend to fall into two camps – one group believes that the world would be a better place if we did what they want us to do. The other, larger camp is composed of a bunch of opportunistic hucksters who sincerely believe the rest of us were put on this earth to keep them in the luxury to which they have become accustomed.

But then there is that other breed of politician, the more psychologically complex ones who prompt the rest of us to ask one question – are these people really that stupid?

Or, crucially, do they think we are that stupid?

Are they playing some giant, postmodern prank where they dare to tell the electorate that we are, effectively, simpletons?

That's one possible explanation for the antics of Clontarf councillor Jane Horgan-Jones and the controversy over her election leaflets, which feature luminaries like Peter McVerry and Brian O'Driscoll.

Inevitably, the two men were quick to distance themselves from the rather presumptuous politician and her nifty Zelig impression, and now she has been forced to explain her decision to piggy back on two figures who are held in immeasurably higher regard than she is.

Well, not exactly.

In fact, showing the kind of heroic refusal to apologise or explain that would make her bosses proud, she refused to talk to The Herald yesterday.

So, in the absence of any explanation from the woman, let's examine the potential reasons for the posters.

Does she think the people of Clontarf will vote for her because she once had a photo-op with some famous dudes?

Or is she so starstruck that she would vote for anyone who had a picture of a rugby player on their flyer?

Have you ever in your life voted for someone because you liked their poster? Nope, me neither.

If ever there was an example of a politician assuming punters would be impressed by something as fatuous as a famous face and then having that arrogant presumption blow up in their face, then surely it's Councillor Horgan-Jones.

But then, that would be a rather cynical point of view ...

TUBBERS AND A MOST UNLIKELY CONTROVERSY

As host of the Late Late, Ryan Tubridy knows that he has to try to stay as far away from controversy as possible. It's not always easy, and every now and then he's bound to slip up. But the reaction to the comments he made on yesterday's radio show that, really, there are times you just can't win.

While interviewing a man who freely admits to beating his wife, the broadcaster said, not unreasonably: "If you did that to somebody I loved I swear to God, I would have personally called over and broke your legs."

This immediately drew the pious, preening ire of the mob, with some people demanding he be sacked for his comments while there were plenty of others who were quick to condemn him for threatening someone.

But the best responses undoubtedly came from the holier than thou mob who were quick to simper that "violence never solved anything".

I think a little matter like, perhaps, World War II, might disabuse them of that notion.

A VERY OBEDIENT PEOPLE...

A letter writer complained about a point I made the other day, which touched on the irony of people who live in an island surrounded by the best fisheries in Europe starving to death. And his reasoning was simple – the nasty English wouldn't let people fish.

I know we're a docile people and here is the proof – a million died because none of them wanted to be a poacher?

Yup, that's believable.

Irish Independent

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