One impediment faced in trying to encourage definitive action on major issues like climate change is the lack of confidence the general public has in politicians; why get out of bed to protest when none of them is listening, let alone acting, for our interests.
It's no wonder that attitude is becoming prevalent when those with power increasingly abuse it, or at best are so disconnected and intent on game-playing amongst themselves as to seem to exist on some other planet.
Glaring examples abound, no more so than the farcical impeachment of US President Donald Trump. He can tweet his acquittal all he likes, but it's painfully clear the man put his own interests first – as, I'd suggest, he has done from day one.
Never has naked self-entitlement in protection of vested interests been more obvious than in both Trump's behaviour, and his Republican Party senators' exoneration of it.
A little-noted, and perhaps worse, example is a federal appeals court dismissal of a suit against Trump for using his office for pecuniary gain, flouting one of the basic protections of US law designed to reign in misuse of presidential executive powers.
The judges dismissed the case, brought by Democratic senators and congressmen, simply on the grounds they didn't represent Congress as a whole and therefore could not take action on its behalf.
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That doesn't mean the allegations weren't true.
So apparently you can have a crook in power and so long as he (or she) has the backing of a majority of representatives then a crooked government is okay.
Even Richard Nixon wasn't brazen enough to risk plunging his nation into such disrepute.
US leaders have the gall to proclaim their nation "land of the free". Free to run roughshod over the law as it suits them, it seems – which to my mind is closer to how a totalitarian state acts than any form of "democracy" I'd wish for.
Unfortunately we in New Zealand are no longer strangers to this way of doing business. Our politicos have clearly learned from the US songbook, if the current crop of alleged dodgy dealings is anything to go by.
With charges already laid against some members of the National Party and the Serious Fraud Office investigating NZ First for potential illegalities in the way those parties have obtained donations and/or not necessarily declared them, it is no great stretch to suggest the machinery of politics now strains the extent of the law as a matter of course.
Evidently the last thing anyone promoting cavalier behaviour thinks about is how the public will perceive it if they're found out. Which is damned odd, given candidates rely on that same public to vote them into office.
Which raises another question: are voters now accepting that a certain amount of corruption goes with the territory?
I would like to believe the answer is a firm "no", but I'm reluctantly inclined to think it's more an unvoiced "yes".
And one problem with that is it reinforces the perception that politicians operate in some "otherworld", with its own rules and values; so nothing the average voter does can change that – no matter which way they vote. If they do.
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
As Bernie Sanders is showing in the US, there's a very simple way to cut through the bull and bluster and that's to be fearless and forthrightly honest.
We voters also need to be fearless in dismissing those who stand for self-interest and choosing those who still have genuine integrity and clarity of vision – regardless of party lines.
Else we can kiss honest government goodbye.
■Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.