Herb Prooy: Clone politics

When will politicians have the courage to say goodbye to their carefully constructed alter egos? asks Herb Prooy.

It’s easy to be right with the benefit of hindsight, said Christian Democrat Jack de Vries’ when BNR Radio asked him if it really had seemed such a good idea at the time to choose the PVV as an ally.
On the Sunday morning news programme Buitenhof, VVD parliamentary party chairman Stef Blok said he wouldn’t say no beforehand to cooperating with any party in a future cabinet, and that included the PVV.
These are just two examples of the sort of answers that politicians have been giving to a raft of questions over the last few days. They owe a huge debt to the endless media training sessions that have turned Dutch politicians into the predictable clones that they are: restrained, evasive and forever repeating themselves.
Whatever answers they are giving no longer refer to any actual content but are mainly meant to have an effect on the listener. Politicians are concentrating on presentation and have stopped listening.
Harry Truman, the 34st president of the United States, said the only effective politician is he who can accept that someone else may get the glory. Truman had the courage to take the impossible decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan in an effort to end World War II. He was also the man who ordered foreign minister George Marshall to come up with a plan to actively support European reconstruction financially and materially in order to keep the Soviet Union at bay. It was the first step towards European integration.
On Monday night news programme 1 Vandaag presented the results of a poll among 40,000 viewers who were given the choice between elections now or sorting out the nation’s budgetary problems first. A large majority recognised the seriousness of the situation and chose to tackle the budget first and then have elections. They were also agreed that the structural reforms this cabinet has been putting off should take place immediately.
When will politicians have the courage to say goodbye to their carefully constructed alter egos and become effective politicians? We can’t wait.
Against all expectations Truman won a second term in office. Voters appreciate originality.
Herb Prooy is an entrepreneur in the field of ‘software as a service’

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