Sunday, April 15, 2012

Towards greater accountability

In Australia, the US and many other nations, 4-year political terms are the norm. Four years is a long time - enough time for cynicism to sink in and the stigma against corruption to dissipate. Leave a politician in office long enough, and they invariably become corrupt. The temptation to use their power for personal gain is too great - everyone is corruptible, and when you're constantly presented with the opportunity to break the law for personal gain, the chances are that eventually you'll find an offer too lucrative to turn down.

Which is why we need shorter political terms. 3 years, for example, or maybe 2. Keep the turnover of politicians high and the threats to transparency and integrity low. "We need fresh blood." You see, when a politician knows that they have four years before they have to worry about garnering public approval again, they are free to pursue policies which aren't aligned with the people's best interests. If, however, they know that their time in office is short, they are more likely to do everything they can to cater to public opinion. I'm sick of seeing politicians enter the highest seat of power with idealistic enthusiasm which fades into unabashed greed and the absence of morality. By the time they are spit out by the system, their lofty aims have long been discarded and, if they aren't considered a public disgrace, they almost certainly should be. It's time we updated our laws so as to strengthen our democracies and capitalise on the good intent that is often generated within those running for office.

I know I'm not the only one who thinks this is a great way to improve the quality of our leadership, but so far I haven't heard many people in the media promoting the idea of shorter terms. Perhaps you can help, by having conversations about it with your friends and colleagues, family and acquaintances, and posting about it on your social networking sites. Let's capture the public imagination, and transform the way democracy works by insisting the politicians remain accountable to the public that elects them.

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