We need a Prime Minister to tell us how to feel

Like most Australians, I look to the Prime Minister to inspire me on a day to day basis. I need a Prime Minister to lead me, to point me in the right direction when I’m feeling lost. I need a Prime Minister who enjoys the same sports I enjoy, who enjoys the same television shows I enjoy (who doesn’t get a thrill when the PM says something indicating she watches MasterChef! It makes me feel like watching MasterChef is alright after all). A Prime Minister who has the same religious beliefs as me, who has the same sexual preference as me.

The office of Prime Minister is about so much more than speaking for a parliamentary party and explaining the policies on which they’ve agreed in consultation with each other. It’s about much more than implementing legislation that does things consistent with the approach they told us they’d take before we voted for them.

It’s about leading us. About telling us what to do. About helping us think the right way.

That‘s why it’s so important who is PM. Because it’s their job to seem cool and likeable and like they’d only do good things.

That’s why I am frustrated and confused about why it is that the parliamentary Labor party and the parliamentary Liberal party both choose their own leaders rather than letting me vote on the subject, although if you asked me directly I’d say that the US system is un-Australian and the last thing we want to emulate here despite it being what I just demanded.

Kevin Rudd really spoke to me. I liked the way it seemed on the TV news that everyone liked him and he was happy and popular. I liked being told I liked him. I liked the way he and Tony Abbott abandoned the carbon trading scheme they’d promised us, just as much as I hate the way Julia Gillard gave us the carbon trading scheme she’d said once she wouldn’t. I liked the way Kevin hasn’t ever been drawn as an evil witch with a pointy nose. I liked the way Kevin said “Vegemite” and “fair suck of the sauce bottle” and how easy it was to forget how much I hated those things two years ago when the Herald Sun was telling me I should. I like the way Kevin’s name doesn’t rhyme with “liar”. I liked the way his policies were apparently better in some way. That’s why I supported him again.

And it was all for naught. I don’t understand what’s going on.

Advertisements

28 responses to “We need a Prime Minister to tell us how to feel

  1. Patronising sarcasm eh?

    Well that’s one way to go I suppose . . .

  2. Hopefully it makes the point. There’s too much bullshit going through to the keeper and it’s festered into this open hatred of Gillard as if she’s some kind of evil destroyer and black witch.

    It’s bizarre to me that the same people who talk about how terrible politicians are and how useless government is then turn around and talk about how they want the PM to “lead” us. Why the hell do we need “leading”? We need a parliament that represents us, and a PM who communicates to us what the majority of parliament is doing, but… “lead us”? Why? Who seriously needs a politician to “lead” them?

  3. BTW assigning childish and ridiculous motivations to those of us who prefer Rudd as PM, and then mocking us on the basis of those motivations, is about as pure a ‘straw man’ as you could hope to create.

  4. narcoticmusing

    Nope, didn’t make your point Jeremy, it made Mondo’s point. You are being patronising and disrespectful. People disagree with you, get over it.

  5. No, you prefer him for a different reason, Mondo – you think he’s best placed to defeat Abbott. That’s quite a different argument and perspective and I wasn’t addressing it in this post.

    I was addressing a sentiment that appears to underline these supposed popularity polls.

  6. Nobody supports Rudd for the ridiculous reasons you’ve put forwards above Jeremy – that’s what makes your post a strawman.

  7. Give it a rest Jeremy. So today is still the same as yesterday – Liberals still off in Tea Party cuckoo land, Labor still run by the right-wing factions, progressive voices still unheard by the public, and the corporate media will be right back to undermining Labor with slanted stories and baseless leadership speculation from 9am tomorrow. Big deal. What are we going to change the political dynamic? Be sarcastic? Great plan.

  8. Splatterbottom

    Thelma or Louise, who cares?

  9. I support Rudd because he is the only Labor politician who came within Cooee of breaking the power of the Unions and Factions.
    He sought to reform the ALP into a modern party representative of all it’s members by challenging the internal power structure.
    His greatest sin was that he hadn’t kowtowed to the factional bullies and he paid for it with his political life.

    Cheers

  10. Nobody supports Rudd for the ridiculous reasons you’ve put forwards above Jeremy – that’s what makes your post a strawman.

    Oh, I think they do. I wish I didn’t, though.

    I’m certainly not saying everybody who supports Rudd does so for those reasons, of course.

    The point of the post is addressing this absurd notion that we need a “leader” to “speak for us”.

    What are we going to change the political dynamic? Be sarcastic? Great plan.

    So you don’t think I need to do anything else? I mean, this was just one post responding to one particular line of reasoning – but if you think I can go with patronising sarcasm right to victory for my preferred political policies, then maybe I should concentrate on that.

    You’re sure I should give up everything else on the blog? Okay.

    His greatest sin was that he hadn’t kowtowed to the factional bullies and he paid for it with his political life.

    I thought it was more that he thought of himself as akin to a President, but I can certainly understand supporting him if your understanding was that he was going to reform the faction system.

  11. jordanrastrick

    Jeremy’s criticism is a valid one although hopefully it doesn’t apply to anyone here (Rudd supporter or otherwise).

    I support Rudd because he is the only Labor politician who came within Cooee of breaking the power of the Unions and Factions.

    Not really. He proposed no changes that would fundamentally reduce union influence, and did not seek to make structural significant structural reforms of the factions – he merely wanted to take the factions power for himself.

    His greatest sin was that he hadn’t kowtowed to the factional bullies and he paid for it with his political life.

    No. Not kowtowing to the factional warlords merely sealed his fate. But his greatest sin was that he was a narcissistic meglomaniac control freak who treated his staff and caucus like horsecrap and trashed the cabinet process. There is plenty of independent confirmation of his character flaws outside of Gillard’s camp within the parliamentary ALP; see David Marr or Laurie Oakes, or Chris Wallace’s excellent piece here:

    http://www.breakfastpolitics.com/index/kevin-one-two-three.html

    Thelma or Louise, who cares?

    Someone has to lead the country. Since Keating, who has been on offer? Turnbull, briefly – some appeal there but it a way he’s just a more intelligent version of Rudd.

    I’d have voted for Beazley on the grounds his major flaws as a politician are an impediment to getting elected, not to actually running the country (IMO).

    No other leader of either party since the 1996 election strikes me as holding a candle to Gillard. Now, that’s far from saying she’s wonderful. Still, surely we need to decide the lesser amongst available evils.

  12. Look, if the functions of the leader are so unimportant, and people vote for parties not for leaders, then you have effectively forfeited your right to complain about people advocating a change of leadership from Gillard to Rudd.

  13. Look, if the functions of the leader are so unimportant, and people vote for parties not for leaders, then you have effectively forfeited your right to complain about people advocating a change of leadership from Gillard to Rudd.

    Except for when that drowns out real debate on policy, which is of course what’s been happening, and what I’ve repeatedly argued is the important thing here.

  14. Be quiet, all of you. I need Jeremy to tell me what to think.

  15. Sure we don’t vote for a leader. But it is the leader who outlines a vision for the future, who directs party policy. We vote for the local representative of a party whose leader has the best plan for the future and the capacity to make it happen.

    The problem with Gillard is she has had no effective policies of her own, has not articulated a vision of the future. The problem with Rudd was he did not have the political ability to see his vision & policies through. When Gillard replaced Rudd she made it possible for the Rudd/Labor plan to be executed – but her lack of a vision is why people are disconnected from her. As your sarcastic article suggests, we actually do feel lost because she’s not leading us anywhere specific, just “moving forward”.

    Compare the style of the #respill pitches. Rudd outlined his plan for a better Australia, with specific policies, and pitched it directly to voters. Gillard just banged on about her impressive record and capacity benefiting the future, a future described in vague generic aspirations.

    Rudd didn’t tell us how to feel but he offered us something to feel about. She offers numbness.

  16. Rudd outlined his plan for a better Australia, with specific policies, and pitched it directly to voters.

    What specific policies?

  17. jordanrastrick

    Gillard has vision, specifically with respect to trying to improve equity in society, and in her strongest areas like education she has very detailed policy ideas for how to achieve her goals. However she is TERRIBLE at communicating her vision to a media audience (by most reports she is excellent at doing it in the context of a small group of people.)

    Likewise, Rudd’s vision is not actually especially bold, interesting, or creative. He’s just much better at articulating it.

    People hate Gillard’s spin precisely because its bad, and thus visible. Good spin comes across as genuineness. Rudd’s only strength over her as a prime minister is that he and his staff are much better at the PR side of politics. Unfortunately, this difference matters a lot (indeed, one of the secrets of Abbott’s success is how much more his sound-bites cut through than the Prime Minister’s.)

  18. narcoticmusing

    in her strongest areas like education

    If education is Gillard’s strongest area we are all in trouble. Find an educator who thinks positiviely of what her populist, lowest common denominator approaches pandering to uninformed parents have done for education.

  19. jordanrastrick

    Find a specialist who is ever happy with any reform any government delivers instead of decrying it as a populist LCD compromise.

    Spending on education as a proportion of GDP is way back up from where it was under Howard.

    Gonski was commissioned by Gillard specifically to provided a solid empirical evidence by which to undo the damage of the Coalition funding formula, and looks like is actually going to help create reasonable support across most interest groups, so there is a good chance for politically sustainable change (as opposed to just “cut all private funding” which would be nice but is pure electoral poison.)

    Performance pay is a long way from the state of the art in education reform ideas, but its better than the status quo in this country.

    Etc.

  20. narcoticmusing

    The feds have no freaking idea how to manage education because they only care about national averages – they don’t look at or consider the situation in the community. All of the reforms by Gillard thus far have been damaging, not helpful, for schools. The only good thing she did was the schools infrastructure but the media have warped that into being a bad thing, probably because it wasn’t all for another sports field for private schools – who knows. The reality is that of course government is going to get ripped off, it doesn’t make it a waste of money to build infrastructure, but I digress.

    The aim testing, the league tables, the funding schema GILLARD put in that punishes schools for doing poorly rather than stopping and asking why, that is all very damaging. Kids who are more worried about their next meal than their test result go to schools who under Gillard’s rules, have funding cut as a result.

    The Gonski report – what part of that is she doing? Oh that’s right, none of it because she’d rather maintain the illusion of surpluses being good for a country. There is no leadership or education prowess there at all.

  21. “What specific policies?”

    Let’s see. Rudd wants our kids to learn an asian language. Then there’s the NBN, education, hospitals, carbon price, Labor party, small business taxes, manufacturing… I know, I know, some of these are listed by Gillard as achievements. But the key fundamental difference was Rudd talked about these things in a future context. The first thing he said in Brisbane was “What’s our vision for Australia’s future?” Gillard by contrast did not mention any policy with a specific future outcome or plan. She just talks about making things easier for working families, or brighter futures, or some other airy-fairy fluff. Nobody votes for what you did right, they vote for what you will do next (or against what you did wrong.)

    That is the reason why Rudd can defeat Abbott and why Gillard cannot. Opposition parties win by offering a better future than the government but Gillard is not offering any, makes it easy eh? Having said that, Rudd is clearly unworkable as a leader. The death spiral of Labor will continue until either Rudd or Gillard resolve their flaws.

    “in her strongest areas like education ”

    On a side note, Gillard was crap for education, copied a failed Bush policy that has since been dumped by the yanks. But she defended the BEP where Garrett failed to defend pink batts. Labor needs her leadership to defend the carbon price. I might point out that both Coles and Woolworths froze many of their prices for one year starting July 2011. Coincidence? Expect a repeat of their efforts on raising prices and blaming the GST, of which Howard smote them resoundingly.

  22. narcoticmusing

    Performance pay is a long way from the state of the art in education reform ideas, but its better than the status quo in this country

    No, performance pay means that teachers in ‘easy’ schools get bonuses and teachers in ‘hard’ schools get punished. It has massively exacerbated the problem of recruitment and retention of good teachers in ‘bad’ schools.

  23. Splatterbottom

    I thought for a while Gillard was improving, maybe turned a corner even, but it looks like we are back to bad old Julia, the creature of the factions who can’t give a direct answer to questions.

    Narcotic, if you want schools to improve, give more control to principals and hold them accountable for outcomes, spend more time coaching teachers on the job and hammer into parents that their attitudes and expectations are extremely influential on educational outcomes.

  24. narcoticmusing

    SB, I wasn’t actually debating what would make schools improve – I was merely asserting that what Gillard has done in her ‘strong suit’ of education has been very damaging. Teachers can/do have an impact on student outcomes, but there are so many bloody variables it is almost impossible to make such a strong link so as to make their pay based on it.

    We’ll debate educational reform on some other thread, this isn’t it – suffice to say I do not agree with all of the options you outlined.

  25. Julia will never disobey the factions and here’s why.

    How many people have read the ALP Constitution? I have Labor-voting friends who tell me it’s just words, it’s just a piece of paper, and Labor is the Party that supports small business.

    I’m not a Labor voter, although I did vote for them once. (Sorry, Jeff).

    Read the objectives, and please explain to me how subordinating yourself to unions and the Socialist International and UN are good for us? It is all about wealth redistibution, and not everyone having a fair go. It’s not fair if you are taxed to the hilt and do not have the opportunity to succeed, although if everyone else is in the same boat, then I guess that’s okay.

    It’s all about power. The ALP have it, and they are going to hold onto it.

    What we think is irrelevant.

  26. It’s not fair if you are taxed to the hilt and do not have the opportunity to succeed

    That’s the bit where your ideological underpants show nilk. Reasonable taxation is neither unfair nor a denial of opportunity, and Labor’s overarching goal is obviously not to “tax us to the hilt”.

    Wealth redistribution is important in any modern society and a balance always needs to be struck between the freedom of citizens to accumulate personal wealth and the need to fund community programs.

    Your characterisation of “wealth distribution” as an absolute social negative identifies you as a free-market fundamentalist, which is quite properly considered a fringe perspective in most successful modern democracies.

  27. An interesting perspective from DuckPond where Gillard’s (perceived?) lack of vision is considered to be no big deal – by comparing her to Howard.
    http://wmmbb.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/democracy-in-practice/

  28. narcoticmusing

    Wealth redistribution is important in any modern society and a balance always needs to be struck between the freedom of citizens to accumulate personal wealth and the need to fund community programs.

    Hear, hear.

    And those that acquire wealth often forget that the money redistributed comes back to them. They are quick to point out ‘trickle down’ (which is actually very flawed) but are suddenly silent when the sound economic rationales of welfare and other wealth distribution mechanisms are pointed out. Eg. you won’t get any business if ppl don’t have money to purchase your products.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s