Local Politics vs. Trump

This week on Queensland Local Elections: Live not a lot actually. One shamed candidate drops out hereone dodgy deal revealed there. All pretty regular political back and forth that nobody really pays much mind to.

Did you hear about what Trump did though?  How the people got a little violent at his rallies,  or pretty much anything that comes out of his mouth. Don’t worry if you missed the Trump Show today, a lot of people are googling it as well…

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*Trilobites ate worms

Our media is giving a lot of attention to prospective policies from a guy who is campaigning for the chance to run for the presidency of a country that isn’t ours when Australia has a year full of elections.

Whaa

Crazy right?

And we eat it up, having debates with our barista about what’s going to happen if Trump wins when quietly our own home grown politicians are being their same old boring selves, but they’re passing policies that actually affect us.

Our local election (the one we probably should have paid attention to) is missing engagement and the crowd’s attention. Queensland local politicians are playing the traditional game, making the assumption that audience attention on their politics is a given. Hardings team probably needs to be sitting in on the same meetings as Rubio, Bush, Christie, Paul, (actually, just all the other republican candidates) because they too have been run over by the Trump train. The audience’s attention has shifted and the politicians haven’t seemed to quite get it yet.

Tony got it, (not intentionally, and definitely not to his own benefit) but he had our attention.

 How we sort of miss your antics Tony (maybe not the ABC). 

 

Research is proving that this is the way now. Elections are won through theatrics; through personalities, we’ve seen glimpses of it in the past few years, Obama had a way with the crowds and he knew how to draw the audience. Although this year we have seen Trump officially change the game.

So

Is the fact that political engagement is becoming so reliant on these outlandish (albeit entertaining) shenanigans a good or bad thing? Should we be thankful for our boring brand of local politics?
No. Probably not. While Trump is so far from what politics should be striving for, he has engaged a large proportion of the population in discussing the state of affairs in America. Even better, he forces the audience to decide what they want in a politician. A key factor in political engagement is political efficacy, that the population has trust in the government and believe that they can influence discussions. Trump has gained support from the population with low political efficacy extremely effectively. While this has induced the crazy, it’s also forced a lot of other populations into becoming politically vocal.

 

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While I am thankful that our next Lord Mayor doesn’t have any grand plans for a wall to block out Logan, I don’t think our local elections should be reduced to what name sounds familiar or which candidate was the least annoying walking into the polling booth. More attention on all levels of Australian politics needs to be paid to the features of this political age and the landscape that politicians are engaging in.

Not every Australian politician carries on like the internet isn’t a thing. The youngest and most genuinely likable federal politician, Wyatt Roy employs a forward thinking communication strategy. His Facebook page is constantly updated with both politically driven content and more general, happy content. Likewise, Greens senator Scott Ludlam uses a variety of different communication strategies. Going beyond traditional media, Ludlam takes a note from the current master of new media Bernie Sanders, and connects with voters on less traditional sites like Reddit. The fact that its feasible there is now ‘traditional’ social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and ‘untraditional’ like Reddit and Tumblr for political communication tells us that yes, times have changed.

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If Trump takes the republican candidacy one thing can be assured, people will be voting with a purpose. The same cannot be said for our own elections be it local or national. The line to the sausage sizzle is always bigger than any line to talk to candidate representatives. If the way to get engagement is through forming a media personality beyond the politically stale standards we already have, then embrace it politicians. Be bold. Because what you’re doing now isn’t working

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