It seems like the debate (it really wasn’t) between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott last night has induced a severe epidemic of despondency around the country – political commentators and theorists, historians, church and community leaders, me and my friends and I am assuming probably you and your friends too.
Pretty much everyone I am connecting with who is not involved in garnering the vote for one party or another is expressing some level of despondency about the state of Australia’s political life and the dearth of real leadership. The best that many can say about the election campaign is that it is boring.
For myself, I couldn’t wait until I could switch to watch the Masterchef finale. It was so much more fun. It was far more edifying.
‘Edifying’ may seem like an excessive descriptor for a reality television show but the behaviour of the contestants was a rare sight in public life. They were facing off against each other for a big prize, but they supported and encouraged each other and were genuinely pleased with each other’s success, even though they both wanted to win. This is not what we are used to seeing – in political life, on the sporting fields, in business board rooms. Grace and goodwill have become rare commodities.
How much better would the so-called debate have been had our political leaders determined to be creative, encouraging and bold rather than small. There was nothing edifying about that political debate – not one half-decent vision offered for the future of this country, not one acknowledgement that the other party had ever done anything good in government that deserved to built on, not any hint that voters might actually be thoughtful people.
It was and continues to be the campaign of the small – small-mindedness, small little policy announcements, visions so small they are non-existent and very small opinions about us, the voters.
Come back Masterchef, I say.