Thank God the Campaign is over; can we have a Government, please

It is Wednesday evening, and the election campaign is almost over. I thought the media moratorium was for the whole of tomorrow, but now I learn it is only from 2.00pm on. So we have to endure another morning. However, early on in the campaign I decided that I would only listen to a small amount each day, and some days none at all. For somebody who is very interested in politics that was initially hard, but as the days went by I found it enormously liberating.
However, for better or worse, I did tune in to the three leaders debates. Looking back on them, I would now regard them as being little short of a circus. And for that I don’t particularly blame the politicians. I consider the main blame lies with the media. They have become media events, and they detract from, rather than assist, the quality of discussion that is essential for a good campaign.
For instance, last night’s final leaders debate:
All day long RTE were promoting it, as if it was going to be a major gladiatorial event. They informed us that it would be crucial for each leader and his or her party, and as such we could not afford to miss it. The build-up through the evening got more dramatic as the time got near.
But after all the promise of great things going to happen, the debate itself was poor, and boring. The four participants all looked tired, which is understandable after the weeks they have put in. The facilitator consistently interrupted each speaker, which was irritating. And the topics were the same as we have been hearing for weeks. Nothing new of any value was said. Almost everything was predictable; we had heard the same answers being given to the same questions many times already. Nobody could afford to admit to doing anything wrong, or being less than successful in what they had set out to do, because if they did it would be turned into headlines for the following two days. For instance, there was no proper discussion at any stage about one of the major problems, the health service. Clearly it is an intractable problem, and there are no easy or short-term solutions. If it was possible for the various health spokespeople to sit down together and have a serious discussion on how progress might be made, rather than attacking each other for their failures, it would have been so much more refreshing. But that would not suit the media commentators, who love to deal in blame, and in highlighting what is not working.
But what was much worse, and it happened after each of the debates, was the analysis sessions that followed. Supposed experts, all of whom we have heard many, many times, were assembled to tell us what we should think, and how we should evaluate what we had just seen. It was presented in terms of a game; who won, who lost, who had the best put-down, who made the biggest mistake. As if any of this made any difference to the person’s ability to lead a government.
This morning, while continuing to be choosy about what I listened to, I switched over from Lyric every now and again to see what was going on. The impression I got was that Morning Ireland and Sean O’Rourke talked about little else but the debate. This afternoon was bright and sunny here in Galway, so I played my first eighteen holes of golf for 2016. When I finished, and sat into my car, out of habit I tuned in to Drivetime. What were they talking about? The debate, of course.

I don’t know how this election is going to go, and if we will have any sort of a government after it is over. But I do know that whoever is governing for the next few years will face big challenges that were scarcely, or not at all, mentioned during the last three weeks — things like Climate Change, Brexit and the possible consequences for Ireland, migration, the abortion issue, and many more.

The ultimate nightmare will be if we have to go to the polls again in a few months, and endure another three or four weeks of inanity and irrelevance like we have just put down. And again I am not putting all the blame for this on the politicians. So, please, whoever is elected, put your personal ambitions to one side, and don’t think only of your local area, but rather of the good of the country as a whole, and give us a government that will, in so far as it is possible, govern with wisdom and discernment, and for the good of all the people. And most of all, stop shouting at each other, and try to listen instead!