In my article about election choices the other day, I mentioned the option of “write in votes” and then referenced a tongue in cheek attempt on twitter to get an Australian elected as the US President. Well, that campaign has provided a little light-hearted distraction from the grind of lockdown life for some of us.
I lent a hand by providing some of the campaign slogans and policy suggestions. My aim was to come up with slogans that were obviously empty and meaningless and to deliver big sounding but ultimately futile policy suggestions. So, in our case we came up with a campaign slogan “Belief we can change in” and a policy platform including building a bridge between Australia, America and Britain whilst also filling in the Grand Canyon and digging out a new one closer to the tourist attractions of New York. There were also some plans involving killer robots but I cannot quite remember what they were.
My job was already easy because most of the material was already there in real life politics. All I had to do was reorder the words to some vague but nice sounding slogans and come up with analogous scenarios to grand policy suggestions already made. After all, we already have “Change we can believe in” “The Change We need” “New Leadership” “Make America Great Again” and “Get Brexit done” as actual political slogans. Meanwhile if Donald Trump thinks he can simply promise a big wall on the US southern border to keep unwanted foreigners out and Boris Johnson can distract from hard questions about Brexit and the Northern Irish backstop by promising a bridge connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland then why not promise to #BuildTheBridge across the Atlantic and Pacific?
The point is simple. Modern public discourse has deteriorated. We are completely dependent upon soundbites and we have little of substance to say. We prefer slogans to difficult conversations, platitudes to truth. First of all, therefore, this article is an appeal to anybody involved in public life that might be reading. We need to do better, please work at improving the tone and content of public, political debate
To the rest of us, we may not be involved in real political campaigns, we may not have national influence. However, whether it is making statements at work, seeking to lead a church, or just little day to day conversations in person or via twitter and Facebook, let’s look again at what we are saying. Is it meaningful? Is it true?