Elections no 7 – leadership matters

Its about this stage of an election campaign, especially one of six weeks, that the public lose interest.  Heaven knows how much is being spent by the party machines on advertising, mailouts, polling, and monitoring media activity.  Political power may cost money to buy, but the spin machines go into overdrive. 

Some savvy analysis would suggest that the media spin-doctors select a few key issues that resonate with voters, or expressed in the vernacular, make the worm turn.  Labour started this campaign with Industrial Relations and withdrawal of troops as their main mantra.  These matters have been countered and now they are searching for other issues, mainly household expenditure and education.  Liberal started the campaign emphasising economic strength and anti-union platforms as their key points.  These two have failed to shift polling in their favour.  Over the coming weeks they will likely scratch for some other ideas to put into the minds of voters, as on both sides of politics, the current messages are not translating into a shift of voter intention.  Watch out for petrol prices, interest rates, and health issues to dominate discussion this week.

It was some commentary on the gullibility of voters that struck a raw nerve with me today.  One supposed expert suggested that up to 20% of voters will decide on polling day how to cast their vote, and that the last minute performance of the leaders, and the weather on the day could influence which box they tick on the ballot.  If he is right, then it is a sad state of affairs.  But I don’t beleive that such a high proportion of the electorate are that indecisive or ideologically unaware, and the truth of the matter is that analysis such as this insults the intelligence of voters. 

Further to this, this campaign is not about the leaders, albeit that the presidential style coverage of the campaign looks at nothing other than party leadership.  There is a whole political movement, set of policies, and process of representation that sits below the leadership, which sadly has not featured.  Aside from a few well validated jokes about the supression of Julia Gillard, there is not much that has been put in front of us as voters about the party level cohesion of each Government alternative.  The absence of a substantial third force in the political arena intensifies this. 

Is there a Jewish perspective on this?  Jewish life is about intensive critical thinking.  Jewish communities know about the importance of making informed decisions.  There is also much in Jewish literature about leadership, including the roles and responsibilities of good leaders.  Leadership by example, exercising humility, not pandering to populist opinion, honesty and integrity, vision and foresight, unifying skills, and assertive judgement are all aspects of Jewish leadership that are drawn from the biblical, literary, historical and legalistic texts of Judaism.  Perhaps that’s why Jewish people don’t make great politicians!