The other day, I watched a Parliamentary committee.
It was depressingly predictable. The opposition MPs accused the civil servants appearing before the committee of being wasteful, or being slow and inefficient, and of being hijacked by the government’s political agenda. The government MPs defended their own choices as good for Canadians, and certainly more impressive than anything opposition MPs did while in power.
If there was an election and the position of the parties was inverted, these people would just need to cross the floor and trade speaking notes. There is no real dialogue here, just the performance of previously defined and superficial roles.
I suppose that is all in keeping with my theory of democracy as constraint – a theory based primarily around very low expectations for politicians. Perhaps we cannot really hope to control what politicians do once they are in power, by listening to what they say before elections and selecting one lot rather than another. Perhaps all we can do is force that floor-crossing, note-trading exercise to take place before one particular group becomes hopelessly compromised and corrupt.