Thursday, July 9, 2009

Richard read my blog!, or, In which our hero is unfairly assailed.

Here I comment on Richard Albert's article about senate reform. I sent Richard a note about my response to his article, and he, in turn, sent me a note saying he appreciated the critique (which was only a partial critique) and that he bookmarked this blog (which puts the pressure on to post more).

I was checking The Mark to see if Richard had written anything more, and I noticed a comment on Richard's column that began thusly,
I'm not normally a fan of the current federal government, but to characterise senate terms as an opportunity for pork barrel politics apparently ignores the fact that the current government has twice before introduced legislation to elect senators...
and ended,
I think your commentary is quite off the mark on this one.
OK, first, no where does Richard write about pork barrel politics.

Now, I obviously had a few quibbles with Richard's article, and I think the commenter ("Steven Hurdle") has some useful points to add to the debate. However, to begin a posted comment with "I'm not normally a fan of..." and then present some Conservative Party talking points, seems disingenuous. Make no mistake, that doesn't invalidate the bulk of his comments, but it does colour my reaction as the reader (though I should note that Steven is respectful in his response).

Further, Richard is most definitely not "quite off the mark on this one."

From what I've read, Richard has one of the best minds for democracy of my generation. I do not know Richard's political leanings or affiliations (though I have some guesses), but his writings all come from the viewpoint of defending democracy, not any particular partisan position. In my response, I noted that Richard, perhaps, needed to differentiate between the value of the particular policy proscription and the realpolitik implications of the policy. I kind of find it funny that Richard has been criticized in a seemingly partisan way for a potentially realpolitik sort of argument. Saying that the Conservative government has been better on Senate reform than any other party or administration (which I think they have been) does not refute the notion that this particular policy proscription will have detrimental effects.

Sure, in this situation, the perfect might well be the enemy of the good (which was kind of my point), but I think Richard could easily argue that "the mediocre can also be the enemy of the good."

By the way, if you're interested in reading more from Richard, here's a column about democracy and India. Indian democracy is certainly beyond my area of "expertise", so all I'll say is, he better not be slagging Jeb Bush.

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