"Although I have made this blog one of my daily reads, I still do not quite understand the purpose of some of the points you make.
What is the purpose of this post, other than to troll?"
- Anonymous commenter to "Eleven Party Leaders: By This My Hand Revealed"
A journalist once told me, "There is only way to look at politicians...and that is down."
Such a view puts one in a perilous position. One is likely to fall and hit the ground hard.
However, the journalist's quip does point somewhat in the right direction: when dealing with politicians, one should certainly not look up. Keeping the subject at a level with oneself is safest. If a politician in his or her insecurity finds equal treatment demeaning, that is his or her problem, not the critical viewer's.
An individual's pursuit of a position of power in a free and democratic society carries with it an implicit bargain: in order to be respected by the people, the power-seeker must be respectful of the people. He or she cannot just do or say whatever he or she wants, expecting the people to nod and bow in respect for the office or the seriousness of the issues.
If this election is any way historic, it is in the depth and height of the violations of the implicit bargain the political classes have with the populace. Never before have politicians treated the voters with greater contempt, thinking them stupid and easily swayed by slogans. Never before have the politicians offered a greater amount of policy choice without policy substance.
As Michael Penn and Okumura Jun have pointed out, the only political alliance with a sensible partner in it and a certain majority in both Houses of the Diet is a Liberal Democratic Party/Democratic Party of Japan coalition. Nevertheless these two parties are ripping each other to shreds on the campaign trail, diminishing the popularity of both and making their joining hands post-election improbable. Even if the politicians agree amongst themselves to put the election campaign behind them, the poisonous atmosphere they have created will make it difficult for the public to accept LDP-DPJ collaboration.
The chances of a workable government emerging out of the December 16 election are further clouded by the imminence of the 2013 House of Councillors elections. Even if a government with even a smattering of commonality in between its variegate parts emerges from out of the mess left on December 17, the clock immediately begin ticking for the start of the campaign for the July 2013 election.
When do the parts opt out of cooperation -- with the passage of the budget and its enabling legislation? That would be what, April?
All of the above would be bearable if there were, amongst the leaders of all the various parties, a single person with whom one could trust with the premiership. When a duplicitous serpent with funny ideas about the sex slaves of the Imperial Forces is the best of the bunch, however, one has to wonder why bother voting.
Which brings up the non-existent problem of the undecided voters. In elections held in democratic countries, the undecided voter is usually the idiot voter – a person who either does not know what he/she wants or has been too lazy to find out which party or politician promises what he/she wants.
In this election, with the party manifestos having been compiled in a rush and not one leader with a shred of credibility, being undecided with two weeks to go is a mark of distinction, not failure. A person who is aware of the issues and in possession of a modicum of intelligence should be asking, “How can I vote for any of these clowns and superannuated children?”
And they are asking, if the senryu (topical comic verse) submitted to and published by my hometown rag are guides:
Shutsuba sure yori
Not running for office
More than running for office
Posuta kyo mo
I pasted up just now
The poster that
I have to replace
A plate of chopped up vegetables—candidates
Decided by “Rock, Paper, Scissors”
The first senryu needs no explanation. The second is a reference to the bewildering formation and merging of parties which has now, with today's opening of the official election season, come to a merciful, if temporary, close.
The last one plays on the rhyme words champon -- which is a dish of soup stock and chopped up vegetables, used as derogatory metaphor for all kinds of things that do not belong together all mixed up and piled on top of one another (such as champon nihongo – Japanese that is a mix of traditional words and pretentious loan words) – and jankenpon, the name for the hand game "rock, paper scissors." This latter word is a reference to Japan Restoration Association leader Hashimoto Toru's infamous offer to Your Party leader Watanabe Yoshimi to come to a decision on which of their candidates will run in a district by the two of them playing "rock, paper, scissors."
The ultimate message of the last poem is clear: we will begin to take you seriously when you begin to take us seriously.
Later - This post has been edited to fix a kanji error at the suggestion of a reader.