Ego Overload…writes Michael Kuttner

December 12, 2014 by Michael Kuttner
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A mere two years after the last general elections, Israelis will be going to the polling booths again on 17 March 2015.

The vast sums of money needed to fund this exercise in democracy could have instead been very usefully utilized for health, welfare and educational purposes but owing to the fractious nature of political life here we are faced with expenditure which in all likelihood will show another poor return in value.

Michael Kuttner

Michael Kuttner

Critics are again bewailing the dysfunctional state of the electoral system. However there has been a slight upward adjustment to the threshold which parties need to achieve in order to gain representation to the Knesset which should result in less fragmentation. This is the theory of it but naturally reality is something different as we all know only too well. New parties surface every few days and existing parties divide like amoebae. Although this gives the electorate a wide choice, it does not contribute to stability.

Looking at the glass half full, we can at least take comfort from the fact that Israel is the only genuine democracy in the region where free and fair elections can be guaranteed and it is certainly amongst a minority of democratic nations which are members of the United Nations, although that fact seems irrelevant these days as the non democracies and those with sordid human rights records have taken over. In addition we are fortunate that we live in a country where regular opportunities are provided to toss out incompetents and change the Government peacefully and not at the point of a gun or civil unrest. Someone told me the other day they at least in Israel we had the opportunity to have our say at the ballot box quite often and not be stuck as in some countries with a disastrous bunch for four, five or even eight years.

Between now and March voters will be saturated with the most mind-boggling tripe and a fair part of the country will switch off and wish they could go into hibernation for the duration. As in any robust and genuine democracy the campaign will be characterized by outrageous claims, poisonous accusations and ego tripping episodes of gigantic proportions. I therefore hereby give notice that this op-ed will be one of very few dealing with the campaign itself if only because reading too much concerning nauseous and narcissist politicians and aspiring politicians can be injurious to one’s health and sanity.

It is an amazing phenomenon to witness men and women trying to sell themselves as geniuses and the Lord’s gift to the electorate and to see the contortions they will subject themselves and us to in order that we become convinced of their infallible powers to improve and change our lives for the better. Israel, as a passionate and vibrant society has it all and the next few months will see every facet of human hypocrisy and ego tripping in full-blown action.

The passing political parade includes:

Failed politicians who have flitted via three parties over the years and as each one sinks into the sunset have managed to climb aboard another one just in time.

Those who sell themselves to the highest bidder. Having no shame or principles they offer nothing to the electorate other than a desire to retain their parliamentary perks.

Individuals whose egos are so huge that they can claim with a straight face that only they are defenders of democracy and anyone else is a threat to the normal order of society.

Recycled politicians who having failed in previous stints at the Knesset have a burning desire to return to the scene of their disasters. Their egos are so inflated that they think the public will forget past failings and blithely vote for them again.

Party leaders who are so desperate for power that they will promise everything to anyone as long as it attracts extra votes.

Aspiring Knesset members whose sole purpose is to represent the interests of the PA and who show contempt for the very concept of a Jewish State of which they are citizens

Posturing candidates who think the electorate is so dumb that it will swallow every spurious claim made.

Is it any wonder therefore that the percentage of people turning out to vote has decreased over the years from a high of over 80% to about 63% at the last elections? Concerns have been voiced that this time around the turnout could be even lower. If in fact this occurs then the politicians will only have themselves to blame. No doubt the scenarios described above are common to most campaigns in parliamentary democracies but they do seem more passionate and stark in Israel and their frequency is more frequent.

Two quotes I came across sum up the situation most admirably.

“Politicians with egos are like cheap clothes with high price tags. They are not really worth what they advertise.”

“More the knowledge – lesser the ego.

Lesser the knowledge – more the ego.” (Albert Einstein)

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