Remember When Politicians Were Meant To Represent The People?

It’s a crazy notion, I know, but I had this inkling of an idea that in a democracy, our elected representatives were representatives of the people. You know, all of them. It turns out that our elected representatives think quite differently on this score.
Image: Alpha
Warning: Politics content ahead. Like religion and toast, some people don’t take discussing that topic well.
Last night was… weird.
Really odd. Not in a “waking up with a traffic cone, a beaver pelt and a serious headache” kind of weird, but weird in a way that I couldn’t have anticipated, because it involved politics.
I got involved in a Twitter discussion with The Hon. Doctor Peter Phelps, MLC. Doctor Phelps is a Liberal Politician (and current government whip) with a long Liberal party history, including (amusingly) working for Bronwyn Bishop. Methinks he’s probably not keen to talk up that side of his career, or at least reveal any expenses slips right now.
Now, to make things perfectly clear upfront; while Dr Phelps and I do not share the same political leanings, I’m perfectly and 100% comfortable with him holding different political viewpoints.
Indeed, in a democracy I think it’s quite vital that different (and even challenging) viewpoints should be heard, discussed, dissected and acted upon. I know just as many people on the left of politics who take a hardline “only our way is correct” viewpoint, and I think that’s both scary and, frankly, a little daft, because so much of this kind of thing relies on compromise, discussion and the variance of views that exist within just about every individual.
While I’m broadly left-leaning, there are some aspect of political policy where I’m quite conservative. From discussions with plenty of right-leaning folk, I’ve found this generally the case, and that’s consistent with being actually human. It’s possible to hold multiple viewpoints on a multitude of topics.
Political differences are not the weird bit. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It started with this Tweet by Dr Phelps, directed at @noreasonspec.

Umm.. yeah. I had some issues with that, because while Dr Phelps sits in the Legislative Council (the “upper” house of NSW politics), that’s essentially a body that’s elected treating the whole of NSW as a single electorate. You still get voted in by the people. So I tried to point out to him that this wasn’t correct; while he may not like it, his constituents are, in fact, the entire population of NSW.

The trolling comment was because, frankly, if you look into his timeline, he’s quite happy to rile up the left. Again, he’s entitled to his political views, and that’s fine. Frankly, that part he took in his stride, responding as follows:

But the point is an important one. In my case, for example, I live in a Liberal “safe seat”, both at federal and state level. I’ve met my local member a few times (mostly when he’s been presenting stuff at my kid’s school) and he seems a nice enough bloke; I think I’ve walked past my federal member once in the street. I don’t share their political philosophy, but as someone who lives in their electorate, if I have an issue, I expect them at the very least to listen to my concerns, as well as represent those concerns where needed. Do I expect them to suddenly leap over a table, denounce the LNP and join the communist party? No. They are who they are, but who they should represent is the entire electorate. Not just the parts that agree with their philosophy.
Dr Phelps could have stopped matters right there, but no, he takes quite a different view.

Sorry, Dr Phelps, but this is not asinine in any sense of the word:
asinine |ˈasɪnʌɪn|
extremely stupid or foolish

It’s the basis of a functioning democracy. Otherwise, in a majority of votes wins scenario, huge swathes of the electorate would be disenfranchised the moment the votes are counted.

Not a public servant? I seemed to recall that politics involved a public office, serving the people who elected you.
He doesn’t get it. I tried again to point out that political office is an elected role for the people; a privilege and not a “right”.

Again, no problem with him holding a “small government” viewpoint as part of his politics, but he still shouldn’t ignore his constituency. Which, if you’re in NSW, is all of us.

(Now we’re really veering into personal philosophy/politics. I don’t think he gets it.)

Again, he’s pretty happy to gloat. Whatever.

Ouch. That’s… not good. Not democratic. Really, it isn’t. Like I said, weird.

So this is where we are in Australian politics in 2015; an elected official who’s “happy” to represent only those whose views accord with his own. I think that’s incredibly troubling, no matter which side of politics you sit on.

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