I’d like to create a structured political organisation for people who want to be involved in politics and government but who don’t want to pander to the electorate.
The purpose of this is two fold.
Firstly, I think there is a large community of people in Ireland who have political experience and who recognise the importance of politics but who have become disillusioned with the boom and bust cycle of electoral politics.
These people have no political home as the only political organisations that exist are those who want to perpetuate that cycle. I think its a shame that their political experience is lost to the system. They still have a lot to offer.
Secondly, I’m concerned that as the electorate move through the parties looking for one that finally keeps its promises, and inevitably doesn’t find one, a vacuum will develop, which will be filled by some form of extremism.
This deterioration in the integrity of mainstream politics seems to be gathering pace. The “last man standing” at this point is Sinn Fein, and when they have to deal with the reality of Government, after building expectations for nearly 20 years, the backlash will be enormous.
The organisation I have in mind would be a political party, but would refer to itself as a movement, and would seek to preserve the integrity of electoral politics, rather than establish power.
It would do this by offering candidates at elections who agree to be “anti-populist”.
Candidates would be free to offer their political views on the issues of the day, and offer their ideas as to how challenges are dealt with, but they would not be able to make commitments on behalf of the movement. The movement as a whole would be policy neutral and not issue manifestos.
When challenged on how a candidate would deal with a particular issue, the candidate would refer to their personal political philosophy, and include the stock response that if they were in a position to make such decisions, they would review the evidence available and circumstances of the time, and make the best decision possible in support of the greater good.
This would obviously be challenged, and even ridiculed, but this is precisely how every decision of Government and the Oireachtas has been made over the last 20 years.
Decisions of governing political parties are always made based on circumstance (coalition, budget, economic indicators, EU Law etc), and never on foot of electoral commitments. The candidate would offer this response.
Clearly, this would offer very limited chance of electoral success, but again, that would not be the purpose of the movement. The movement would instead form a bedrock under the current process, so that an “option of last resort” exists after the mainstream parties have exhausted their credibility.
To put it more simply, if the movement can remove the ability of the average voter to say that “they’re all the same”, even if it never receives any votes, the movement will have served its purpose.
I would also hope that the movement could fulfil another more academic role, where it would promote the idea that we should continue to question the validity of the methods we have established to govern ourselves.
I think it is dangerous to accept the consensus that electoral democracy is the final chapter in political history. A movement such as I’ve described could organise talks and seminars on this basis, and promote such debate in the media.
And finally, if nothing else, it would be an interesting experiment. Given what has happened to the Green Party and Labour over recent years, the timing is also good in terms of obtaining media interest.
I’ve put a lot of thought into this, and written up a full constitution that describes how the movement would be established and regulated, which is key, given the discipline would be crucial to the the goals of the movement.
The constitution also deals with what would happen should one or more candidates get elected, and provides for communication mechanisms that would allow voters understand the current political outlook of the movement and its individual members.
The Constitution can be viewed by clicking here.