Julian Assange has found a new way to grab the world’s attention by announcing his intention to run for an Australian parliamentary position.
After his website, WikiLeaks became notorious for leaking thousands of classified U.S. documents, the elusive hacker evaded the long arm of American justice by bouncing around a series of European judiciaries. He’s currently stationed inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, avoiding stepping outside for fear of being arrested and sent back to Sweden to face highly dubious "rape" charges — where he will no doubt be extradited to America.
Is his recent interest in politics a way to secure diplomatic protections? Remind the world about his current plight? Or is he genuinely interested in "representing the people"? The likelihood of him winning an election seems problematic at best, considering he can’t leave England to campaign, debate or give speeches. Moreover, the current Australian PM Julia Gillard has explicitly stated that she thinks WikiLeaks was illegal and unethical in its actions, so support for Assange in the country might not be strong enough to see him to office. On the other hand, Gillard’s administration is facing turmoil in the upcoming elections, so perhaps Assange picked the perfect time to pounce onto the political scene, and leverage his massive online support base.
One has to wonder, what would a politician who preaches absolute transparency look like in office? How far could he carry that message of openness to the masses once he’s actually in a position of influence? It’s easy to take a hard line position from the outside looking in, but ideology and purity are always harder to maintain once the complex burdens of leadership are faced. Will Robin Hood be a just King?
Not every government document is part of a nefarious conspiracy. Some facts do have to be kept hidden from public view for security and stability. We don’t want our leaders to be secretive tyrants, nor do we want them to be naïve idealists. An experienced and pragmatic balance must be struck, but Assange’s platform offers a powerful shift in one direction.
Assange’s leaks endangered U.S. troops, increased anti-American hostilities and led to the deaths of Afghan tribal leaders who were supporting U.S. forces. On the other side of the coin, they also brought to light the civilian-endangering tactics used by the American military, and revealed the contempt U.S. diplomats had for other nations. The world still seems to be debating the merit of his actions. Were the crimes he uncovered truly an affront to international law, or the unfortunate reality of collateral damage in warfare? Perhaps if we have an unabashed view of what actually happens in war, we’ll fight more passionately for long-lasting peace!
All things considered, Assange would make for an interesting contribution to the Australian political landscape— especially in light of the fact that trillions of dollars worth of oil was recently discovered in the outback. The country could soon become a bigger oil exporter than Saudi Arabia, and that kind of wealth often comes with massive transformative effects. Who better to protect the country from greed, corruption, and violations of the public trust, than the internet’s great "white knight"?