[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post’s Weekender Edition.]
Being an honest, ethical and competent MP isn’t something that a candidate can easily stump for. That’s mostly because it’s not easy to distinguish yourself from your pathologically dishonest opponent, who’s made a career of lying to everyone, even himself. It’s a rare politician indeed that doesn’t promise to be effective and to stand up for the principles of the people he’s speaking to at the moment, whatever they may be.
Despite innumerable past disappointments, honesty, ethical behaviour and competence should be assumed. They should be right there in the job description.
In countries the world over, the political scene attracts the same kinds: There’s the Mercenary: charismatic, mercurial, willing to say or do anything as long as the price is right. There’s the single-minded Missionary: often blinded by the brilliance of his own vision. There’s the Manager, who finds herself organising others because if she didn’t nothing would ever get done. There’s the Monarch, for whom power is an end in itself, not a job but a state of being.
All of these are required in order for a government to operate, though each in its measure. Take any one away and things break down. Allow too many of a given kind… and things break down. The chemistry of government relies as much on manoeuvrability and opportunism as it does on organisation and direction.