In the next 12 to 18 months there are a number of elections coming up across Australia. Presumably, in amongst the cries of ‘you’re on mute’ in the socially distanced meetings called by all the political parties to plan and strategise their marketing, they are trying to work out how to convince you that their candidate is the shining light of goodness and rationality in the competition and their opponents are the devil incarnate.
To those who don’t belong to political parties, it can seem at times that candidates are picked by some arcane processes similar to inspecting chicken entrails, consulting oracles and reading the tea leaves. Regardless of what really happens, the preselections by a ‘representation’ of the party faithful sometimes seem to produce people that would be far better off in some other field of endeavour. The scary thing for the people paid by the political parties to convince you and me that we should vote for their particular side of the political fence is that the candidates that do get elected choose the ‘leaders’ of the party.
The leader then relies on the support of these elected candidates, something that can probably be demonstrated by Morrison shutting down criticism of Liberal Party backbencher Craig Kelly despite statements promoting the use of the discredited drug hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, which was subsequently shared online by former TV chef and current conspiracy theory promoter Pete Evans. We have no evidence to suggest Morrison called Kelly and effectively told him to keep his opinions to himself as he has no relevant medical experience or qualifications (and by the way, neither does Pete Evans).
Most people, let alone politicians, will claim they want to improve the circumstances they and those around them live in. The advertising executives hired by the political operatives will be ‘creating’ marketing statements such a ‘A strong economy, a better life’, to convince you and me that that even though the local candidate might be a complete tosser, the ‘leader’ is worth voting for. The slogans are pure drivel and tell us nothing. Motherhood statements involving the words ‘stronger’, ‘better’, ‘security’, ‘great’, ‘supporting’, ‘making’ generally imply a lot but really tell us nothing. And in real life, the train that’s going to run the country down is at the stop before yours.
If you think about it rationally for a minute, the expectation that anyone can guarantee exactly what they will do in the next three years is delusional. A perfect example is Morrison going to the last federal election promising strong economic management — even to Federal Treasurer Frydenberg announcing the budget was already back in the black a year before it was scheduled to happen. COVID-19 put paid to that aspiration. This century alone, we have had a global financial crisis appear out of nowhere to derail most of the aspirational targets promised by Kevin Rudd in the 2007 election campaign and a pandemic doing the same to Morrison’s 2019 campaign.
That’s the problem. Life is full of unfulfilled promises. It’s far easier to tear down a political opponent by latching onto some detail and make the case that the opponent should not be elected because of a flaw in their targets or aspirations than to develop, publicise and argue for alternative policies. It was far easier for Morrison to suggest Bill Shorten was ‘the Bill you can’t afford’ than to discuss his and his team’s vision for Australia’s future should the Coalition be re-elected.
A number of years ago on The Political Sword, we discussed that the only ‘industry’ that could get away with blatantly untrue advertising in Australian media is politics. Regretfully, the situation hasn’t changed and there is still nothing wrong in the eyes of the law with Morrison implying Shorten would introduce excessive taxes with ‘the Bill you can’t afford’ or the ALP claiming at the previous election that the Coalition might scrap Medicare. What the political parties are doing is telling us why we shouldn’t vote for their opponents, leaving a vacuum in policy development in this country and arguably all of us are poorer because it’s safer politically to promise nothing and deliver likewise.
It’s about time that political parties determined that most of us do have two brain cells to rub together and we are actually interested in a discussion around why we should vote for your party, rather than why we shouldn’t vote for the other parties. There is a good reason that most businesses in Australia aren’t using negative advertising to detract from their competition — it’s either illegal or breaches advertising standards. Negative political advertising demonstrates two things — they either have targets they don’t want to talk about should they win the election or they are desperate. Either way, the political parties that employ the ‘strategy’ should be questioned on how they would do it better.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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