I am a baby boomer. Born in 1944, I celebrated my 76th birthday a few weeks ago. My generation has lived through civil rights movements, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9/11, and musical and cultural movements that were rebellious, challenged existing traditional values and changed the world we live in.

I came of age in the post World War II era. I have lived through challenging times under 10 prime ministers, with many a hiccup and setback along the way, and somehow survived and prospered.

These watershed moments defined and shaped my social values and my cultural identity and influenced what I want out of life – peace of mind and stability and to enjoy life, my family, children and grandchildren and the company of friends as I journey through the autumn of my years.

What I and others of my generation want depends on democracy, which is essentially about freedom of choice, the freedom to choose who is to govern us and represent us in parliament, based on a choice of policies and personalities. And herein lies the rub.

Some of our representatives on both sides of the political spectrum have, as the Bard put it, had “greatness thrust upon them” through the democratic process. They do not deserve to be where they are. We deserve better.

I have lived through times when political giants walked the halls and the corridors of power. Politicians like George Borg Olivier, Eddie Fenech Adami, Guido de Marco, Ċensu Tabone, Joe Borg, Lawrence Gonzi and others, too many to mention, who had vision and far-sightedness, both when in government and when in opposition.

All of them genuinely wanted to be of service to their country and to their countrymen. All of them left their indelible mark on the annals of Maltese history and the democratic credentials of the Maltese islands.

Sadly, the once glorious party that they and others built before them with their blood, sweat and tears is now a mere shadow of its former self. Its followers have been dispersed like the Israelites condemned to wander in the desert for 40 years.

I believe Bernard Grech will reunite, revive and re-establish the PN as a strong opposition and a viable government in waiting- John O'Dea

Some went over to the other side attracted by the heady and intoxicating odour of corruption, the promise of easy money and power. Others wander around in a daze waiting for the second coming and a few hang on doggedly, refusing to admit that what was once a beautifully oiled piece of machinery is now a useless lump of rust.

Politics has always fascinated me and I’ve often wondered what makes people offer themselves for public service. Some do it to be of service, most do it to advance themselves.

Politics is a nest of vipers. The system has been rendered fundamentally sick and broken. There was a time when politics was treated as an honoured profession but that ship has now sailed. After seven years of shameless manipulation, blatant opportunism and cynicism all but the hard core – the lemmings – now treat politicians with contempt. Public apathy has hollowed out our democracy and handed power to a small clique of party machine men and factional supremoes.

Politics is now regarded as just another form of entertainment. We have Americanised our system and are looking at politics through the prism of glitz, glitter, fame and celebrity.

Politicians use social media like Facebook and Instagram to promote themselves, sometimes in very idiotic, foolish and silly ways. We need somebody who will reintroduce respect into politics. Somebody who will reintroduce the ability to disagree productively with others, while respecting their sincerity and decency and dispense once and for all with the adversarial politics prevalent during the past few years.

We need to get back to cooperating and working together for the common good.

A few days ago I participated in a stimulating online discussion in a chat room with Bernard Grech who will be running against the incumbent in the election for leader of the Nationalist Party. The meeting lasted almost

two hours. We grilled him and put questions to him that he answered without any hesitation or shilly-shallying about.

I have been following Grech for some time. He is eloquent, logical in his thinking and in his actions and a great communicator who is not given to unnecessary theatrics and drama. What you see is what you get.

A man with values, who realises that the biggest problems in society, the things that cause hardship and distress for people are mainly social, not economic issues. The treadmill of work and the endless accumulation of money and material goods have not necessarily made people any happier.

 I believe Grech will reunite, revive and re-establish the PN as a strong opposition and a viable government in waiting.

John O’Dea is a retired consultant on quality management systems and good governance.

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