The silly season brings with it a range of regular stories: reflections on the year that was, best and worst TV shows, highlights of the year in politics (that must have been a struggle to write this year). Inevitably, there is also the story about where our various pollies are heading on holidays. This latter story then leads to the inevitable criticisms and querying whether - with so many problems facing the world - perhaps they should just keep on working. Of course these stories are usually simply for sport, easy targets to make us feel better about the fact that most of us won’t be heading to France with our daughters for the holidays. But in the spirit of the season, can’t we afford to be a bit more generous?
Regardless of our views of their effectiveness, it doesn’t take much to concede that being a politician is a hard, usually thankless and often lonely job of long hours, time away from families and many frustrations. And unless you are a true political junkie, aren’t we all relieved that there will be a couple of weeks at least where we get a break from the relentless display of the political arts in the media, of he said versus she said, of talking points masquerading as debate, of slogans pretending to be answers to questions? It is hard to imagine that we will really miss our favourite politician over the summer.
And here perhaps is the opportunity; perhaps we could seize the day and spend the summer actually talking about issues in depth, not in soundbites. Perhaps while the politicians are away, we could open a conversation about what sort of society we really want to live in, unaffected by the political necessity for point scoring and disagreement with anything that has been suggested by the other side. Maybe we can do some of the work ourselves rather than rely on the pollies to do it for us.
Let’s give the politicians a few weeks off and give them something to think about when they return … including whether we even noticed that they were gone.