The mean girls and boys of politics amass political power not because they have good public policy ideas, but by constantly feigning offence and demonising their opponents.
The tragic death of Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching and the renewed spotlight on bullying in politics should nudge us back to a kinder and gentler polity, to borrow from Tony Abbott.
I’ve worked in politics for more than 20 years as an elected local councillor, a Senate and state parliament staffer, a Canberra lobbyist and as a minor party operative and candidate.
Believe me, it is not just the girls who can been mean.
I’ve witnessed shouting matches, food being thrown on the floor, backstabbing, manipulation and downright lies. Lots of lies.
With such disfunction endemic in all levels of politics, it’s a wonder our country has not descended into complete chaos, although we are on the way.
Some of this bad behaviour, sadly, has even been present in my most recent organisation – the Christian Democratic Party - and has led to a Supreme Court judge’s decision to wind it up next week if agreement is not reached between warring factions.
Let me hasten to add that there is no excuse for unGodly behaviour in Christian organisations, even if they are involved in politics.
But as we’ve seen in the outpouring of sympathy for the now dead Senator, Australians are fed up with the mean girls and boys of Australian politics.
No one minds robust debate. There should be a vigorous and passionate contest for ideas.
There should never be bullying, lying and smearing.
While I liked most of Donald Trump’s policy agenda, the way he treated his political opponents was appalling.
Senators Penny Wong, Katy Galagher and Kristina Keneally would all be Trump haters but their behaviour towards their opponents is no better than his, just more sophisticated.
Revelations of their behind the scenes bullying of Kitching was only validated by replays of their public brazen bullying of another Senator, Linda Reynolds, in full glare of the Senate committee room’s television cameras.
Too often politicians set up straw men to deflect, all the while feigning holier than thou offence.
Senator Wong is a master.
While I’ve never met Wong, when I was Managing Director of Australian Christian Lobby she attacked me in the media.
In 2013, responding to then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s backflip on same-sex marriage (he had been a staunch supporter of marriage between one man and one woman), I said Rudd was now supporting the creation of another stolen generation.
This of course is the obvious outcome of allowing same-sex couples to marry. More and more children will be (and have been) separated from the love of their biological mother and father through assisted reproductive technology so sterile same-sex relationships can bring children into them.
The irony of Rudd’s famous apology to the Stolen Generations of indigenous children is obvious. It wasn’t the placing of them with loving white couples that was the problem, it was the taking them from their biological mothers and fathers.
Loving gay couples can of course competently raise children in the same way loving white couples can and did successfully raise many indigenous children.
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