When it comes to politics just about anywhere, we are all saps. We are used by politicians and discarded when it suits them. They all pretend to love us during election campaigns. They promise long lists of things that will improve our lives.They adopt slogans that become their transcendental mantras in the hope that when we saps hear the words and phrases enough we will believe all of it. They guarantee to implement many initiatives as soon as they are elected. They wave and smile a lot to win our trust. They tell us what we want to hear. Everything will be better soon.
But then, the day after elections, that whirring and crunching noise you hear is the sound of manifestos being shredded. Promises are denied, guarantees are null and void, mantras are consigned to the waste bin, commitments are buried and the smiles disappear. All that campaigning was just a dream. We wake up and smell manure. We were duped, kidded, lied to, used, abused and ignored. Pre-election, we are votes. Post-election, we are saps. Post-elections, we are nothing. We have no voice, no influence, no control, nada. Look at the U.S. and the U.K. But, here, I'm looking specifically at the place that shaped me.
I was born and raised in Northern Ireland, living and working there until I was 22. Now, at 63, I am still heavily influenced by NI's creative arts and maintain an interest in the political shenanigans. I have a lot of family members living there. The country has been pushed towards many an abyss in the past and pulled back just in time for talks about talks before talking about issues actually takes place. Tension and stand-offs are givens in Northern Ireland. It's a system of politicians on one side versus opponents on another side playing games, obsessed with themselves, goading, arguing, digging in heels and wasting precious time and money that could be spent on actually attempting to improve the lives, surroundings and ambitions of ordinary people. You just have to listen to Radio Ulster phone-in shows like Nolan and Talkback, or watch The View with Mark Carruthers and you get a lot of mouthy people interrupting and talking over each other. A coherent, sensible, positive sentence is a rare thing in Northern Ireland's political pantomime. No, it's not that. In spite of clever people trying to throw in the odd one-liner to lighten things with a bit of comedy, the situation is actually a tragedy.
Politicians really do need to wise up and at least attempt to do the jobs they are elected, employed and paid to do. Joyriding through party political squabbles is akin to schoolyard scuffles and name-calling but far, far more damaging and dangerous. First and foremost, an elected politician's duty is to the people. In-fightng, bitching and throwing dummies out of prams is not helpful to anyone. Whatever the politicians do with their grandstanding and publicity-seeking, day-to-day administration of the key services in people's lives must be maintained. Those in positions of power should learn the skill of knowing when to shut the hell up.
People and their genuine needs and concerns must be taken seriously. Many politicians ignore the people in favour of their own selfish, stubbornness. Ladies and gentlemen, we are bit parts in an ongoing sap opera that looks like it will run forever and ever and ever......