Allan Takes Aim Blog

Politicians need to find the passion

Posted on: 8 July 2011


 First Published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 5 July,2011

 Before the last vote was counted in the 2010 election – the most boring that I can remember – and before it was known which candidates would join the cast of the next comedy to be staged in the theatre of the absurd, better known as Federal parliament, political ‘experts’ (or those who thought they were), were claiming how their advice to candidates had affected the final result. Naturally if the results showed them to have been wrong, their excuses for failure were more imaginative than their original advice.

Over the years, even though the behaviour of the ‘experts’ hasn’t changed much, what has changed is the place where their advice was discussed. Once upon a time the pub would have been the setting for this discussion but now it is carried out in restaurants against the genteel clash of cutlery, crockery and popping corks or, in competition with the avant-garde symphonies in various clubs that emanate from a variety of one – armed bandits.

But perhaps the biggest change is, that when the alleged political experts discussed the election results in the pub, their running commentary about what caused a candidate or party to be beaten was often passionate and, like their advice, incomprehensible.

At times, indeed, the passion would boil over, spread to the audience and provoke reactions so strong that some in the audience would start fighting each other. This usually happened when experts and audience had slaked their thirst so well they forgot what they were supposed to be discussing. Fortunately, due to good luck rather than good fighting skills, few of the fighters were ever seriously injured.

But for me the biggest change in the political scene is that, in my young days, young people seemed more interested in politics. And while some argue that this is because they didn’t have as much to do then as they do today, I believe it’s because candidates were truly passionate and thus able to inspire people and make them believe their ideas were worth listening to.

Today, unfortunately, more often than not this inspiration is missing. Today inspiration has been replaced by events designed to give a calculated effect. And because today, candidates with passion are as scarce as hens’ teeth it is rare to hear a candidate make a passionate speech and rarer still for them to attend meetings where they can speak directly to voters.

Today, campaign managers avoid them attending such meetings but, in cases where such meeting cannot be avoided, they make sure the audience is stacked by people who share their candidate’s views and thus unlikely to ask difficult questions.

But perhaps the biggest change I see is that with but a few exceptions, most candidates spout policy developed by back room boys – few of whom ever seem inclined to put their theories to the test by becoming candidates – as a kind of intellectual exercise. More to the point and because the intellectual backroom boys of parties are interchangeable, it is also be difficult, if not impossible at times, to distinguish between the parties.

 What for instance are the real differences between the Labor Party and Greens or between the Liberal and National Parties? Little I suggest. Perhaps the only difference between Labor and the Greens is that in some policy areas The Greens are more extreme. And the same applies to the Liberal and National Parties with the Nationals the more extreme.

 Indeed from a politically strategic point of view, it would make sense for Labor and the Greens to form one party and the Liberals and Nationals, as they have done in Queensland, form another. Perhaps too, if election funding was truly democratic, Independent candidates and candidates from parties such as the Australian Democrats could get elected and make valuable contributions to Australia’s future.     

That said however, it is my opinion that as the world changes and international borders   disappear and become an historical curiosity, current parties will disappear also and be replaced by new and as yet fledging global parties with new political thinking.

Concomitantly the view that economies should shape humanity will disappear also and be replaced by the view that humanity’s needs should shape economies.          

The   Chronicle for Canberra’s best Community News, published every Tuesday 

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