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Please Advise! What If Some Politicians Spoke Their Minds?

If candidates didn’t care about losing, what would they tell us? Maybe this.

Steve Burgess 24 Jun 2024The Tyee

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Read his previous articles.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

There's a big political scandal in the U.K. where members of the government are alleged to have used inside information to place bets on the date of the election.

What effect could insider wagering have on politics, Dr. Steve?

Signed,

Lad Broke

Dear Laddy,

Media outlets are often criticized for treating elections like horse races. Apparently the horses are doing the same.

Betting on elections is old news in Old Blighty but it's not quite the thing to wager on your own race. In this case the betting was only on the date of the election call and not the outcome. It's not quite the same as sports players betting on their own games, then potentially impacting the outcome and profiting thereby.

But it's this possibility that fascinates Dr. Steve. What if politicians were to quietly bet against themselves, then set out to guarantee a big personal payday? How might a politician thoroughly sabotage a promising campaign? Only too easily. Dr. Steve has composed a speech that could sink the mightiest political juggernaut:

“My friends, I often hear voters say they want honesty from their politicians. I hear your call. Today I shall speak the truth. Yes, inflation is high. Housing prices are high. Gas prices are high. If you elect me and the party I represent, I promise you that housing prices will remain exorbitant, gas prices ruinous, and inflation will do whatever inflation does. I can no more effect the global currents of inflation than Donald Trump can move hurricanes with a Sharpie.

“Gas prices? What am I going to do? Cut gas taxes? Market forces will close that gap in an eyeblink, so that most of the extra bucks go straight to oil company suit pockets, while government funding for transit and social programs get slashed.

“Housing prices? Who am I, the Dean of Hogwarts? Do I wave my wand, shout 'Domus prolapsio,' and bring back the real estate market of the 1970s? Capitalism is some powerful magic, Harry. Sure, we can help at the margins by building more social housing and supporting rezoning plans. But almost the only remedy any politician has ever offered for housing prices is to say 'Vote them out and vote us in.' Apparently, if every opposition party in the world were suddenly to gain power, the issues of inflation and housing costs would be solved. How? Because those other people are fools and crooks! Also, too many immigrants.

“Yes, my friends, I'll be honest. Why not? I'll try anything once. I want your vote. I need your vote. But to gain your vote I must supress my loathing. As a collective, you fill me with contempt. You want problems solved but refuse to accept the slightest responsibility for doing so. Any hint that shouldering a collective burden might involve some personal sacrifice brings howls of outrage and finger pointing at the alleged real culprits. Realistic discussions of meaningful solutions? Hell, no — you prefer conspiracy theories, convenient instruments of paranoia that shift blame.

“Climate change? Well, when a carbon tax — even one with a substantial rebate — can be turned into an effective political weapon, what sensible politician will propose any solution that might put even the most delicate nose out of joint? Why should we cut emissions? What about China? Let them do it.

“Look, can you really blame me if I talk ugly nonsense? From Argentina to Brazil to the Philippines to India to Hungary to Britain to the United States of America, we've seen unhinged demagoguery work like WD-40. If I didn't blame foreigners and wokeism for all of our nation's ills I'd be like a plumber without a plumber's helper. Pushing shit is what we do.

“In closing, let me say this is not the biggest crowd I have ever seen, but what you lack in numbers you make up in pungency. I am guessing most of you couldn't spell personal hygiene, never mind practice it. Yes, I am your champion, I am your warrior and your retribution, but please — don't touch me. Let me be perfectly clear, my cherished friends — if any of you get within 500 metres of my property I shall release the hounds. Then the bees. Thank you, goodnight, and good riddance!”

Any politician who delivers the above will not only do humanity a service — they will make serious book. Otherwise they risk victory, which means settling for a government pension. That's pretty sweet too.  [Tyee]

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