Elections are no longer a contest of ideas

Elections are no longer a contest of ideas

Over on Medium, Alloporus posted on political naivety, asking the simple question: What is politics all about?

In the midst of berating myself for such simplicity, I came across Guardian journalist Peter Lewis more eloquently saying the same thing—our politics sucks.

Politics is no longer a contest of ideas that are formalised as policies but a free for all devoid of content with the weapons in the contest drawn from the marketing arsenal.

We have an election looming in Australia. The incumbent prime minister is supposedly a ninja at marketing. He certainly comes out with crass one-liners. Only they say more about his attitude to leadership than the outcome he wants.

“This is coal, don’t be scared”, “I don’t hold a hose, mate” and “It’s not a race” are marvellous phrases to capture the crises of climate, fire and flood.

What a legacy. 

Imagine being remembered for gaffs that scream to the world how out of touch you were at crisis time, despite sitting in the chair reserved for leading the nation. More worrying than not reading the room is disrespecting the chair, the failure to take responsibility for leading and the prime objective of keeping people safe. 

Now we are told that people don’t believe politicians so all the gaffs are just the noise of the media cycle and are ignored. And perhaps we don’t. 

But these are challenging times that will worsen before we figure out how to make things better—the climate is the least of our problems; when the food prices start to spike and there are shortages on the shelves—we need more. 

Heaven help us if the war in Ukraine escalates.

It is time to get that contest of ideas back.

I don’t want tragic events politicised, I want to see the ideas on energy, food security, defence, and all the usual suspects of jobs, education and health.

I want the politicians to bring substance, not lumps of coal and Hawaiian shirts.

I am naive, after all.


Hero image modified from photo by Nnaemeka Ugochukwu on Unsplash