September 28, 2006

Politicians and Public Trust

This is an interview from President Clinton several years ago on youtube. The interview makes an interesting point- at one crucial moment Clinton turns around to Jon Stewart and says that the Republicans were never interested in his policies but interested in him- so that if they could convince people that Clinton was a bad guy then they could get rid of him. Clinton obviously meant this to strengthen his position in terms of policies- like Tony Benn in Britain to assert a kind of high minded liberalism as opposed to a dirty conservatism.

A focus on personality though has become a signature tune of a particular type of politics over recent years, whether it be about Clinton, or Blair or Bush all the cries are about their personal morality and lack of it. Lots of these themes, as I commented earlier are similar to those surrounding the President of Iran but they still need some explanation. Why do some cultures focus upon the ethics of politicians whereas as this article from the Guardian today reminds us Ireland for instance seems perfectly happy to have leaders which aren't neccessarily ethically pure?

This is a question that this blog will return to again and again over the coming weeks, months and years. But we can already identify some things within the political culture of countries which find corruption to be an everpresent problem as opposed to those unworried by it. One of those is a sense that a politician in some way embodies the general will or public interest of the populace. In a country like Britain or the United States it is envisaged that a decision taken under the influence of corruption cannot be a good decision, consequently as politics is all about making decisions, only good men can make them. Thus we collapse in some circumstances the distinction between a private and a public man. A philosophical collapse which is interesting and the reasons for which are very complicated: but one that is nonetheless present within our political culture.


edmund said...

I think importyatn is how big the areana is -Irish politics everyone knows everyone ect , also it's linked to the rlqative imporance of family vs wider society the higher the latter is in people's eyes the lower corruption will be for a given order of disorder, why it's never been that high in "mainstream US" or "mainstream UK" even has crime and disorder has risen to dangerous heights