Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Short confessions of a Summit Cynic
It's been challenging trying to keep my dinner down while I've been surfing the internet lately. I've read more 'motherhood statements' and 'aspirational' messages over the past couple of days than I have ever seen in my life. My saving grace was Annabel Crabb—whose hilarious blog about the proceedings mysteriously disappeared. Overnight. Every search for it on theage.com.au resulted in a confounding "lack of search results". But at least there is now a new voice in the Australian media who makes me laugh and with whom, on many points, I strongly agree.
What I strongly disagree with is these people, the self-proclaimed "chosen ones", who have motherhooded themselves into some tardis of sociopolitical relevance that seems to have eluded every one whose opinions I value. "The Chosen Ones" have taken refuge behind the most convenient of barricades: that anyone who has an opinion about the summit and its outcome(s) that is not wrapped up in divine love is a "cynic". A Naysayer. "You're either with us ... or agin us." That we're all suffering from some hideous plague of Summit Envy Syndrome (SES) ... or Acquired Idealism Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
The critical point to surface for me out of the proceedings over recent days is that—even with all the protestations about "robust democracy" and "fresh air"—that people who have not found worthy and meaningful ways of contributing to society and justifying the amount of oxygen they steal from everyone else have suddenly been recognised as having some immense societal worth. In their own minds, at least.
I 'worked' for the ALP last year. I 'worked' for A Candidate in an unwinnable seat. I learned many, many, many things. And chief among those is that Politics is a grubby, nasty, toxic business. It's the absolute manifestation of self-interest. Absolute. That this Summit was anything more than a fancy 'Thank You' card to the personal attention of some hard-working campaigners ... or a PR event of national significance is really, I'm sorry to say, idle conceit. You'll see what I mean when your well-intentioned emails start bouncing back. And people stop remembering and/or using your name. And the extent to which you supported them becomes irrelevant in their continued pursuit of their own selfish agendas.
I have worked with women who rocked their new-born babies to sleep in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet because they couldn't afford child care. That Cate Blanchett seems to be celebrated beyond the boundaries of good taste for turning up offends the sense and sensibility of working mothers everywhere. The Unchosen Ones it would seem. And that Kevin (07) Rudd missed the great John Button's funeral to drop off what I imagine were Osh Kosh B'Gosh overalls to the newest Upton/Blanchett, is an astonishing lack of judgement and political sympatico.
I feel like I've just spent the last couple of days at somebody else's cast party. I wish Annabel Crabb had been there.