Politician Lies; Demonstrations Rock the Streets
No, really! Not in America of course; it happened in that bastion of democracy, Hungary.
It all started so harmlessly, just a leaked tape. According to the Daily Telegraph (free registration required):
Hungary’s Socialist Party has publicly backed prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany after the leak of a tape in which he admitted lying to win April’s general election, despite opposition calls for him to quit.
The taped comments, in which Mr Gyurcsany said “we lied in the morning, we lied in the evening” about the need to raise taxes, among other things, were made at a party meeting in which he urged the party to embrace economic reform to fix Hungary’s persistent budget problems. [my emphasis]
For a brief time, there were loud demonstrations demanding Gyurcsany’s resignation. That a politician would use slightly less than the truth to win an election seemed – um – dishonest. We don’t want dishonest politicians, do we? Politicians who will say one thing to the public, and something quite different during a closed-doors conference. Or perhaps politicians who claim the world is safer because they led an ill-advised invasion of a foreign country?
Fortunately reality has set in. There are better things to get upset about than expecting honesty from public officials. (I wonder how the Hungarian national football/soccer team is doing?)
The effects probably won’t remain long. This weekend, the Telegraph reports that the number of demonstrations in Hungary waned.
But last night, the violence looked to be dwindling and, for many in the city, life has gone on as normal. Bars are busy, restaurant tables fully booked, tourists undeterred.
The biggest danger to Mr Gyurcsany may lie within his own party. What started as an explosion of popular anger has quickly deteriorated into accusations of political skulduggery involving a power struggle between two of the country’s leading politicians, allegations of faked bomb plots and football hooligans for hire.
Fortunately modern politics are like modern detergents, no stain stands much of a chance. Indeed,according to the politicians involved, votes or no votes, nothing really changes; demonstrations are merely a blot on the democratic process. The Washington Post quotes Hungary’s Premier Minister (the taped one):
“Neither the government’s actions nor what happens in the party depend on the final outcome (of the elections),” Gyurcsany was quoted as telling the Vasarnap Reggel newspaper. “I’m going to fight for these policies and part of it is the modernization of the Socialist Party.”
“This is not only the tragedy of the Hungarian right but also of Hungarian democracy,” he told reporters.
But just imagine this happening in America, now, during an election year! If American voters would actually violently demonstrate when top elected officials are caught lying. Terrorism would cease to be an issue because the streets would lay in ruins, destroyed by disgruntled voters. Immigration laws would become irrelevant because help would be needed to help clean up and repair the damage. DHS would really have to do something. But no. Not in America. In America, political indifference and lots of junk food have turned the American voter into a passive couch potato.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Hungarians have a much more social view of politics. Quoting George Jaksity, the former chairman of the Budapest stock exchange:
“Typical Hungary,” said Mr Jaksity, arguing that Hungarians were just no good at revolutions.
“We go out on to the streets and start to shout and get drunk and then we get tired and we go home.”
At least they take to the streets and get drunk. Hmmm. Perhaps that’s the ticket, The Free Beer (Political) Party. Na, would probably be illegal – or at least dishonest.