Is there a down side to modern communication technology?
Are we expecting the impossible of our politicians today? Can any leader survived in today’s world where their every action is immediately on show and recorded for posterity.
Every smile, grin, snarl or smirk is there for all to see. Every recorded word and action is recycled to undermine any new point being made.
During the long reign of Mr.Menzies, there were very little of his daily life. He managed to be out of the country for weeks and months at a time. The country did not collapse.
What we seen of our politicians at that time, was they said in parliament or recorded speeches. We did have the election campaigns where they addressed crowds or Town Hall audiences. There was not the electronics and technology that pick up their every word every time they leave the sanctuary of their offices or homes.
Does the USA President have to endure the daily scrutiny we expect our leaders to suffer?
“Comment: Political Leadership in Australia
“…. To be fair, Gillard is not the first prime minister to struggle in the first 12 months of office, and she has had more against her than any of the others. Less well known than Hawke, Keating, Howard and even Rudd were when they ascended, she has also had to contend with the facts of a hung parliament and being a woman in the role. Every day has been a struggle for legitimacy. All this, plus a hostile tabloid press and radio, and an outrageously unprincipled and unchecked opponent; her most bitter enemies have to concede she wants for nothing in resilience and steel………….”
“…………Now, it might be that the Labor Party is beyond salvation by any leader. And just as possible that politics itself is too far gone to produce a leader capable of testing the proposition. To borrow something else from Weber, while passionate conviction and shrewd pragmatism are characteristics of great political leaders, what really distinguishes them is their detachment – not their proximity to the electorate but their distance from it. The natural posture for a politician has always been ‘chief among equals’. But modern media does not allow this. Now it is at best ‘equal among equals’ and commonly last or least among them. Listen to talkback, watch Q&A, tune into the internet and ask where the power and respect lies. Who lays strongest claim to the record, the knowledge and the authority, charismatic or otherwise? Not the leaders. Most of what used to be theirs is shared between the host and the audience, for whom pretty well any opinion is as good as another. The politicians scramble for the residue.
Every day they do what they used only to do in election campaigns. There is Tony Abbott, aspiring prime minister, in a hard hat or gauze one, staring down a mine, fiddling with a tractor, filleting a fish. The people are sovereign, he says. To hell with the sovereignty of scientific facts: popular opinion will determine if the Earth is warming and what to do about it – just as it determined the answer to polio and the movement of the planets. There was Prime Minister Rudd, tin-eared and ineffably graceless but a mind to be reckoned with – where else should we see him every day but surrounded by babies or hospital patients? And there is Julia Gillard, prime minister of the Commonwealth, daily risking her dignity in the nation’s malls and school grounds, confessing her insecurities at the National Press Club, bringing herself close to tears as she asks to be understood, surrendering to the maw of magazine culture and afternoon television, and taking the office with her. The Oprahisation of Australian politics is now pretty well complete…………”
“……..No generation of Labor leaders has been so devoted to opinion polls as this one, yet it is doubtful if any has been more inept at moving opinion when it needed to. Perhaps the organisation is too rancid to attract, or (vide Lindsay Tanner) retain, the talent from which leaders might be drawn. It could just as well be that such leaders as it has, though capable negotiators and effective scrappers, are victims of dodgy political fashions that in time will fade.
The other possibility is that the wretchedness of Gillard signifies a more general upheaval in the social and political setting. The clichés, the tortured and oppressive cadences are habits of the language she was raised in. Demotic it may be, but this language carries only the shallowest meaning. The phrases are not to inform or inspire the audience but merely to echo it and satisfy its narcissism. The spin the public loathes is made expressly for them.
So it is with contemporary politics: not enough formal culture remains to support a well-made argument over a fallacy or a speech over a slogan. The art is lost for want of belief in it. Which might be why, when called on to make the case for something as bold, complex and remote from immediate gratification as a carbon tax, an old codger such as John Hewson makes the case with twice the force of anyone in the Labor government……”
Could it be that we get to know too much about our leaders. Can any of the great leaders of the past retain their mystic in today’s world?
We have a media that has new stories on the hour, where we get a recycling of every perceived mistake the government has made in the last four or five years.
Any positive achievement is immediately drowned out with yesterday’s negativity.
Is this why we no longer consider it is proper to respect the offices of our democracy and the people who fill the roles.
Has our government become one of winner takes all, and the means of getting there does not matter.
I have just listened to the PM give her speech on what she sees the future to be. It was nice to see the PM be able to answer questions, which were asked in a calm and clear manner.
This interview allowed information to be given, and it allowed us a glimpse of the PM’s nature and personality.
We have to get pass the spin and slogans, which has become all that our modern day media is capable of reporting.
We do not need a new story on the hour. What we need is time for the last one to be deciphered and analyzed. We need time to make judgment of the truth of the matter and to understand what it means.
Should not this be what we demand at all time? Good and in-depth questions which are allowed to be answered.
We are capable, or most of us are capable of accepting or rejecting the answers we do not agree with.
Are our journalist’s victims of modern technology as are our leaders?