The news has
been telling me that a horse won the Melbourne Cup this week. I
guess that as sure a horse will win that race a politician or
two will win the Big Race to the House on the Hill later this
month. The major difference is, that we only have to waste a few
days on the Cup and the horse will eventually be put out to
horse racing and politics has led me to the following
conclusions. The first is that both cost millions to get up and
running. The second is that while the punters get to watch from
the sidelines, it’s the rich and influential who get the best
possies. The next is that the horses are only one part of a much
bigger system in which they are at the mercy of others. Finally,
once its all over, the punters have been cleaned out and the
next day all they’ll have is a hangover.
The one constant
is, I guess, that both the race and the poll are all about
spectacle and little about substance. After all, only the select
few get the invite to the “bird cage” while the rest slum it out
with over priced food and drink. At the end of the day it’ll be
the lowest paid workers who clean up the mess the rest leave
In some ways,
though, the retreat from reality to horse racing is, in these
hard times, a welcome, if fleeting, relief. For a few hours the
woes of the world and the attendant troubles are forgotten as
the cash flows steadily upward and away from the control of
those who punt on a nag or two. The thrill of the crowd
displaces the boredom and monotony of the daily grind and the
chance of winning the ‘big one’ beckons as if drawing some of us
in like iron filings to a magnet.
No doubt in
these times welcome distractions, promising escape to some
temporal bliss, are always welcome. After all, we vote in
politicians to ensure that all is well with the world, don’t we?
They ask for our trust and we place it in them and hope to hell
they know what they’re doing. It appears that sometime in the
not to distant past we, collectively, bought the line that
resistance is futile and conformity is expected.
I wonder how it
would be for the big race if all the horses adopted the same
idea? Can you imagine them whinnying about it the night before
the race? ‘Hey, Flash. You gonna walk it in or what?’ asks the
big bay gelding in stall five. ‘Nah. I’m just gonna follow the
rail,’ replies Flash. ‘What about you, Stumbles?’ asks the bay.
‘Nah. I tried that last year and got a belting. Don’t think so’.
And on it goes. Around the stalls until the horses reach a
consensus. There will be no surprises from the horses this year.
Each will do as they’re told, suffering the whip under duress,
each knowing that in a few moments their best efforts will be
rewarded only with more oats and if they’re lucky, a treacle
horse racing, is something predictable. A politician will win
and at the end of the day most of us will end up with empty
pockets and wish that we didn’t indulge so much. Like the
horses, the pollies will do as they’re told and they too will be
rewarded, although with a little more than oats and treacle.
No matter which
way it goes, horse racing, like politics is a mugs game. However
the outcome of the latter impacts us far more deeply and in much
more important ways than a simple race on the grass.
horse racing, I wonder when our politicians will speak up and
demand that we invade Pakistan to overthrow a brutal dictator
who has imposed martial law, arrested and locked up the
judiciary and closed down the free press? Mmm, I guess we’ll
have to wait till next year to find out.