It’s like being up the creek without a paddle. Plot a course, straight and true, know you’ll never steer it. Dream a place the canoe could take you, know you’ll never see it.
Some would paddle our politics to a better place. Paddle in hand, reformers would be spoilt for choice. They know the many ways to change politics for the better: big changes, little changes, bright new ideas, battered old ideas, hard lessons taught by revolution and written in blood. Reformers argue which is best but on this one thing agree: to change politics, change the rules, rewrite parliament’s rulebook.
But there’s a catch you see; politicians make their own rules; only MPs can rewrite parliament’s rulebook. Which they ever do, but for partisan advantage only, gutting their rules and debasing our politics. The urgency of partisan demands, the temptations of power, the dread of gutting defeat, leave no room for coming together for anything but close combat. If the rulebook gets in the way, some much the worse for it.
Which leaves reformers ever searching for a paddle. Somewhere up a creek, so they say. Most of us forgetting, long forgotten, never knowing that our politics could be anywhere else.
This is as good as it gets, tell the children; hope it’s not so?
Look again for a paddle, again and again; we must away.