Last night I threw up a quick post about the US election – now to expand a little 🙂
1) Bin Laden got his man
Anyone that’s been following the US election knew, and has been saying for some time, that any kind of event related to terrorism would bolster Bush’s chances. Thankfully, the event wasn’t an actual attack, but it is obvious that Bin Laden’s intervention at the 11th hour was specifically designed to prompt a swing to Bush. Keeping Bush in office is perfect for al Qaeda’s plans.
And of course, the Bush team was quick to capitalise, announcing word of an imminent threat (not enough to raise the level from Orange to Yellow, or whatever it is, mind you – just enough to scare those swing voters). If you look at this objectively Bin Laden wants Bush in and he was counting on the less-informed voters in the states to swing to Bush, thus the timing of the video.
2) The populous thinks in binaries – the left presents nuance – to win something needs to shift (and I think the left will have to do the shifting)
If I was to write that today I’d say the center/left rather than just the left. So what do I mean by this statement? I’ve been thinking a lot about how Howard made it back into office, and with Bush likely to land back in the White House (the counting continues, but it still seems likely) I’ve been thinking a little more about why, when all evidence points to the contrary, people continue to support these politicians.
One thought I have had (and none of this is particularly insightful, I’ve just been thinking about it) is that the “populous” thinks in binaries. That is, Liberal vs. Labor, Republican vs. Democrat, good vs. evil, you’re either with us or against us. The media, and savvy right-wing politicians, work this angle exceptionally well.
I personally believe, and many others believe too, that nothing is black and white. Binaries are useful to explain some things in broad terms, but it is the shades of grey in between where the reality lies. And yet as we have seen with Howard’s election push, and in Bush’s spin, that a majority of people are easily swayed when presented with these black and white scenarios. The nuance is lost, in fact the evidence is lost. And yet the center/left continues in it’s attempt to counter this with presenting the shades of grey.
In complex times people are drawn to these simple conclusions – whether or not they are accurate or not. So when Bush or Howard puts forward their message, no matter how grounded in fact they are (which is rarely), people are drawn to it because it is a clear simple message.
Is the populous suddenly going to embrace the shades of grey? I doubt it. So the only obvious response is for the center/left to develop clear and defined responses that present a strong opposition to the right. No wishy-washy we’ll kinda do this and we’ll attempt that, but to put forward well developed and clear policy with confidence.
Confidence, I think, is key. Latham flip-flopped so much in the lead-up to the election that it seemed he didn’t really have the courage to stand tall against Howard – one minute attacking policy, the next embracing some of it. In order to garner that confidence he needs to build support in the ranks of the party and from the stakeholders affected by policy decisions.
To do that takes time, something that was never on Latham’s side entering the race so late into the term. But one hopes that he can, over the next 3-4 years develop stronger support and continue to develop forward thinking policies so that he can stand confident behind them in parliament (not that that means much with Howard gaining a majority in both houses) and at the next election.
I have a lot of other thoughts brewing about how we can work to reduce the drastic impact Howard’s next term is going to have on us as a people, but I’ll put those ideas forward as they solidify. Enough ranting for now…