Friday, 4 May 2012

Politics, Passion & Social Care


In the classic sociological text “The Profession and Vocation of Politics” Max Weber states that ‘three qualities are pre-eminently decisive for a politician: passion, a sense of responsibility, judgement’. Passion, Weber argues, is not the romanticism of the intellectually interesting lacking all objective as ‘simply to feel passion, however genuinely, is not sufficient to make a politician unless in the form of a service to a cause. There has to be responsibility to that cause and judgement maintaining inner composure whilst being open to realities.

Weber warns, however, that ‘the politician has to overcome a quite trivial, all too human enemy which threatens him from within: common vanity, the mortal enemy of all dedication to a cause’.

Yesterday’s elections had another low turnout and the debate on voter apathy roles on with debates on ways to improve turnout but if we take Weber’s view the voter apathy can be explained by the lack of passion and responsibility of a cause to inspire voters in to the voting booth.

Over recent years Party Politics seems to have become just that, politics focused on which party can win, can they get enough seats to maintain a majority and what action can they take to maintain power. This is the common vanity that has best our politics, the passion for party success rather than passion and responsibility for a cause that will inspire the electorate.

What our politicians, at all levels, need to do is find the cause that impacts on their voting base and fight with passion for that cause and, if elected take responsibility for that cause. Those who simply get elected, then either settle into the party compliant role or who tilt at windmills on subjects that have little or no effect for the people who voted them into power will simply generate more and more apathy as voters fail to understand the point in electing anybody.

There can be many causes to promote but the ultimate goal has to be a cause that acts for the betterment of the people and, surely, there can be no greater cause than the one that seeks to help the most vulnerable in society to maintain their place in that society with dignity and respect.

Social care is a cause that has largely gone unsung by politicians, primarily because it is not a traditional policy area, and its increasing importance to society is grossly under-estimated as the population ages and we see an increase in age related conditions which will need greater numbers to provide services.

After years of prevarication and tinkering around the edges social care is crying out for a political champion to fight for the cause affecting so many people, social care is crying out for politicians to take responsibility for the care and support of the vulnerable in society and social care is crying out for passion in raising awareness of the needs of those who use care services.

The politician that can show genuine passion for helping the most vulnerable, who can take responsibility for ensuring the social care system is the best it can possibly be and show that the passion is directed at the people who need support rather than just a reason to be elected is the politician who can attract voters to the polling booths and the type of politician this country needs a lot more of right now.