A Yes Vote

I have probably mentioned this before, but one of the best parts of my political education came from watching the British comedy Yes Minister.  The series revolves around the Minister for Administrative Affairs, Jim Hacker, and the fictitious department’s Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby – that is, the partisan politician appointed to head the department and the civil servant who runs the department no matter which party is in power.

This is an extremely funny show, but it points up the very kinds of battles that happen when ephemeral office holders come up against the entrenched bureaucracy.  You think you are in charge because you won an election?  No, not really.  Your problems have really just begun.

It really drives home the point that politicians are very much at the mercy of their non-appointed staff, who can easily make their masters look foolish in a very public way.  This is why nearly every tax hike, when properly dissected, is really about pay raises and larger staffs.  This is why most politicians become part of the dragon they are supposed to slay.  Play ball or find yourself with your ass hanging out.

It is very educational, though not very hopeful for those of you with a reform mindset.  If it makes you feel better, Hacker actually wins some of his battles, though how and why he does so is equally enlightening.

One of the best things about the series is how generic it really is.  Is Hacker from Conservative or Labor?  You won’t be able to tell from this series – it depicts the kinds of battles any politician might have.

The reason I am mentioning it now is that I just discovered that the series is available for free streaming if you are a member of Amazon Prime.  So too is the follow-on series, Yes Prime Minister.  The only thing you would have to pay to see is the 1984 special that bridges the two series, Party Games.  It might also be free on other services, like Netflix Online.  Go on, give it a try.



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