Someone asked this very important question: should governments use blogging as a tool for public service? I answered yes so here goes…telling an all-too-familiar story another way.
After 30 years in public sector work, I present to you the ruminations of a dinosaur with one eye open. Close your eyes…now, aherrm both eyes please…and come with me on this journey…
Just imagine receiving a blog from your local MP…
Can’t help it…got to say it! I can just see the title of my next tune beckoning in the distance: Blogging Me! Blogging You! Uhuhhhhhh’. For now, try singing/humming (whatever), these words with that famous ABBA tune ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You, uhuhhhhhh…’ See…not difficult is it?
Where are we? Oh yes the MP’s blog. Yes the blog is in your face and you seeing his/her face on your computer – for the first time! Wow! Some of these MPs don’t visit their electorates as often as they should once elected. So we need to think creatively to keep on reminding them about who gave them their mandate.
Unfortunately for most, they are all over you like a rash and in your face just before elections. Sometimes that is not so bad as someone’s got to put their best foot forward and declare their intention to lead. For some it’s more like willingly offering themselves for a life in a fishbowl, or go down in some quarters like the season’s pickings to be chewed up and spat out! Quite unceremonious goings on but that as we know comes with the territory.
Anyway, wouldn’t it be great for your MP to tell you what his/her vision is for your electorate for the next 5 years, and tell you about his/her hopes, concerns, issues, hobbies, interests, good causes, family, challenges and hardships they themselves or you put them through etc. MPs are human too. Yes, but human or not human is a small part of the commitment they made when they stood on top of trucks with loud hailers bleating out promise after promise for a better life that is only possible through them, disrupting traffic, disturbing the peace with loud noise, littering the sidewalks with their posters…etc.
Back to Le Blog, I could imagine a couple of engaging MP blog titles such as:
‘Getting to Know You’ (is this a line in a musical or what?)
‘Meet and Greet’ (hmmm…too wishy washy)
‘Coming to You Live from…(name of electorate/village)
‘Today With You’ (too suggestive perhaps)
‘Spanning Our Tribal Bridges’ (oooh…that’s heavy)
‘With Love From Me to You’ (maybe not…) and so on and so forth.
Gradually, election fever is no longer life-threatening, the warmth of the ballot paper becomes cold and the loud hailers are silenced and tossed aside in some dark damp corner for another 5 years or so. Promises become challenges and a 4-5-year uphill battle, more like every year, to meet election commitments prevail. The mandate to govern becomes blurred with self-indulgence and extreme liberties.
The electorate once more fades into yet another 4-5 years of the same old same old…as the loyal voter cries out over and over again: where is the road, the school, the aidpost, the airstrip, the drugs for all manner of illnesses etc etc? Why are we suffering when our country sits on gold and oil deposits, our rich forests and oceans teeming with bountiful harvets of tuna etc. That’s right! the promises that were coming over the loud hailers not so long ago. Why?, where?, how? — on it goes day in day out like a broken record.
Now I got to thinking as an avid blogger: Could blogging change this ever so familiar negative scenario? Most may answer maybe or yes, followed by how soon! And from the zealous ones: how about yesterday?
So this ‘new face’ (dispela ‘niupela pes’) that I’m talking about or rather agonising over – what about it?
Just think of yourself, the blogging honest voter let alone a citizen in your MP’s electorate telling him/her or rather blogging him/her about your successes, hardships, challenges, your family, taxes, your community and the beat goes on – day in, day out. This goes on for what seems like an eternity.
Then one day, voila! you get a response! A response from your MP! Oh my gosh, your lips form these immortal words, slowly and with great emotion and no sound emanating from your mouth. Your heart is beating faster than usual, you are not sure whether to laugh or to cry! As you reach for the Kleenex your heart is full of wonder and love…yeah love…imagine that too. The blogger and bloggee in contact with eachother in perfect harmony…hmmm.
The hours pass by and you go back to your usual routine of checking your emails and Facebook and anything fun or witty. Then you log off your computer and wonder about your MP blogging back…well what a humongous surprise…you feel the lump of emotion in your throat again. You stand up from your desk and in the silence of your office you wonder….
What would future elections look like and what would elected leaders be like? If you were all blogging for 5 years after he/she got elected. Yes, what kind of church, community and youth leaders, public servants, newspaper editors, office managers, donor agencies, technical advisers, volunteers, project managers, departmental heads, CEOs, and politicians – the elected representatives etc, would a blogging community produce. It could go the other way too…we could create monsters. Yeah that too, but let’s just focus on our hopefully benevolent and caring MP, please.
That’s all very well. But what if the MP doesn’t have a computer? Is there another way? Do we need to give every new MP a crash course, say, Blogging 101? Do we need legislation to introduce blogging as a form of government communication? Prepare a Cabinet submission on this? Allocate a fraction of the budget for blogging resources? Or should we as law-abiding citizens exercise our human and civil right and just do it, that’s right! Go ahead and blog with our MPs to our hearts’ content every minute, everyday, every week, every month and so on. Well, it would all makes sense if we were receiving our MPs’ responses, right?
It all boils down to this: MPs are duty bound to communicate with those who are and may be potentially affected by their actions and they are morally bound to be accountable for their actions, right? Yes, it’s all good…but MPs are just one aspect of governance. And mine just one perspective.
So the more than a million quid question is: Could blogging be the ‘new face’ of governance? Could blogging empower us to create cultures of good governance?
My mind journeys on, long after the flames of my gas heater burn low and another night to create in slumber my world of happiness, wealth and prosperity. A title of another blog perhaps?