I never know with the Americans; do they even realise how wonderfully cynical they are? The current USA ambassador to Slovenia, His Excellency Joseph Adamo Mussomeli, who has earned quite a reputation for frequently voicing his opinion of our bickerings, recently said something like ”In the USA, politicians pretend to hate each other, but your politicians hate each other for real”.
(You gotta love this guy. He’s outspoken to the point of being brave, brilliant, with a great sense of humour. He succeeded in ticking off more people than all other ambassadors to Slovenia present and past combined. One of the few things about him that sort of fits what I’d expect from a diplomat is his undeniable charm and his skill at wooing the press – though he assures us that the media are always going for his throat.)
And as usual, Mr Mussomeli is close to the truth but not quite there. Politicians, at least the ones who understand the basic principles of their job, certainly pretend a lot and they need to. Ours, who arguably could use a bit of maturing before they can fully grasp what they’re supposed to be doing, sometimes seem to let their emotions get the better of them instead of just acting like it. His Excellency, a seasoned diplomat who still can’t help his paternal instincts kicking in when he sees us behaving childishly, may be slightly too eager to believe what our politicians are selling him. That’s the danger with being patronising – you think you’re so clever you don’t stop to realise your toddlers are playing you. But he does admit that the Slovenians are difficult to read 🙂
In difference to Mr Mussomeli, I believe that our politicians, at least the ones that truly are politicians and not something possibly far more sinister, are no different than any others; they’re trying to appease the voters just enough to keep their chairs while doing everything they can to please the people they’re really afraid of, and that’s not us, the voters.
What may be (a bit) unusual about the Slovenian politics is that not every one of these public figures is your run-of-the-mill politician. I think this is largely to do with the fact that our democracy is quite young and the people in power still have a lot to learn about running the business under the guise of democratic principles. In older democracies, people who are foolish enough to make their mugs known by dabbling in politics are usually nothing more than the expendable puppets of somebody who is way too powerful and smart to make themselves recognisable to members of the public. Everybody knows that being ”famous” means that, at best, you can’t go anywhere in peace and, at worst, you risk being gunned down. Surely the people with any real power can’t be bothered to lead such an undignified existence. Instead, they use politicians as their cannon fodder, lightning rods and live shields, what have you, and make sure that if you passed them on the street you’d never know it. Much safer this way.
However, here in Slovenia, some of the people popping up in politics are not just players but rather the club owners who can’t apply for a transfer when the club shares plummet and consequently risk losing much more. Or they have been deluded into believing they were, I never can tell as everybody here seems to be taking themselves so darn seriously. Not that it matters much as the effect remains the same; the displays of emotions our politicos regularly treat us to appear realistic enough, at least to the foreign diplomats like Mr Mussomeli.
Anyway, wherever you’re from, chances are you’ve been angry with a politician at some point in the not-too-distant past. If you happen to be afflicted with being Slovenian – be sure to check out some of my older posts to see if your symptoms fit the diagnosis; Part I, Part II and Part III – you’re probably fuming right now over what one or the other hand-shaker did. But seriously, what’s the point? First of all, anger solves nothing, and second, what do you expect of baby-kissers or whatever office-holding sleaze that appears to be running your country? Sadly, your expectations might have very little to do with reality, at least until the way we understand and participate in politics changes profoundly.
I for one stopped thinking about politicians in terms of them holding right-wing or left-wing beliefs. If they personally believe in the things they say they haven’t been in this business long enough or they are just too bloody naive for the job. Instead, I view them as right-wing-voter-pleasing mouthpieces and left-wing-voter-pleasing mouthpieces, or right-speaking and left-speaking politicos for brevity. Their rhetoric has little to do with what the said mouthpieces will really be up to if they get voted into an office or manage to cling onto one. Just remember how many times you’ve seen a right-wing politician blatantly buying votes with social transfers (which, as I was made to understand, should be the domain of the lefties) and how very typical it is for a left-speaking office-holder to be found catering to the interest of the corporations (which should be something that the righties do) rather than the ordinary people they swore to serve.
The point is that we, the voters, should stop being so daft to believe that a politician is sharing our views, let alone supports our interests just because he or she says so. They say what they need to say and if they don’t they get penalised by the electoral body, shunned by their peers and chastised by their masters. Which brings me to the next point, coming up soon.