I’m a Celebrity Politician – Get Me In There!

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I
don’t really want to talk about politics – because not so long ago I spent over
five years doing little else. But I will say this: when Australians vote for
parties and independent candidates based on which politicians they like best,
often without knowing the policies the candidates stand for, we get
decision-makers who don’t care about people or our environment. Instead we get a
government and an opposition that are practically interchangeable and politicians
who have their eyes on the next election result not on what’s happening in your
street, or on your farm, or to our climate, or to our waterways or to the air
we breathe.

Instead
we get a government that counts dollars above services and that inflames ‘us’
against ‘them’. Where ‘them’ is any grouping of people that takes the
collective attention away from the government’s pandering to big business and
the status-quo.

The
thing that disturbs me most about the current state of politics is that people
– voters – are entranced by personality to the point that it’s the key thing they
seem to consider when voting, which hardly explains why they voted Tony Abbott
in as PM in the first place but it’s been a key factor in why his popularity
has gone down. It seems that for many it wasn’t the policies of the Liberal
party that concerned them so much as the way in which Abbott talked about them
and the way he made us look on the international stage. Ie stupid.

Some
Labor voters have stated this week that they prefer Malcolm Turnbull over Bill
Shorten as PM. This doesn’t make logical sense since there are some key
differences in policy on equal marriage, climate action, and workers’ rights,
but it does make sense if we’re only thinking of personality and when we consider
Bill’s zingers, made infamous by Mad As Hell.

Meanwhile,
Christine Milne never achieved the following that Bob Brown had and while she
was leader of the Greens she remained a target for unkind commentary about her
looks – even from Greens voters. It’s no wonder politicians spend so much time and
money on ‘the look’ and the ‘sound-bite’ when they’re catering for the
attention span impaired. (Though with all this expenditure it remains a mystery
what Tony’s spin-doctors were doing. I can only imagine he ignored them.)

I
don’t know when people started voting on personality, charisma, and charm but
it’s time it stopped.

The
most charming people are not always the most trustworthy. A friendly smile does
not guarantee friendly policies for the disadvantaged, disenfranchised and sidelined
in our world. And whilst it’s clear that someone capable of communicating well
is useful, the way they communicate should be secondary to what they actually
say – and what they don’t say.

What
we have today is a government that seems to have exactly the same things to say
that it did a week ago. But the change of mouthpiece is popular. Politics
should not be about popularity, it should be about ethics, about doing the
right thing because it’s right; listening, consulting, working collaboratively,
where the process is as important as the outcome.

Politicians
should not be celebrities. Let’s leave that to the royals and the so-called
Reality TV ‘stars’. We should expect more from politics than sound-bites,
slogans, and ads – we should demand it. If we don’t demand it, they won’t do
it. But too many of us do not. We listen to the spin instead of listening to
independent organisations and our own brains and too many voters don’t even
know if candidates and parties have policies, let alone what they are. And this
being the case, collectively, we deserve the pitiful policies that we now have
in this country.

You
want to complain about the government? Then do a Google search and find out
what the policies of the parties and independents are. Do they have any
policies? What are they prepared to put in writing? What will they stand by?
Will they stand up for anything at all? Vote for the ones whose policies most
closely match your own values, not the personality you like the best. And then
you can complain about the government and I might not roll my eyes at you.

©
Palitja Moore, text and image, 2015

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