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Monday, May 29, 2006

On The Australian Greens:


Something that didn't get posted during the elections
The question the Greens need to answer is; how do we get more of votes? The answer, all too often, is more well reasoned policy delivered with equal parts measured outrage and academic righteousness. This recipe seems to be working well for a known slice of the population. But does that slice comprise 50% of the population? I doubt it.

There's a large group of people, whom the Greens are specifically barracking for (as are Labour), who don't identify with the message or the method of delivery. They identify with (or follow leaders such as) George W. Howard, the Exclusive Dei, Opus Brethren, One Family or First Nation. This is a large highly impressionable and passionate group, but not highly educated or paid. If there are not ethical ways to influence this population to vote Green we'd be able to make certain not-so-flattering statements about human nature. I want to believe it can be done, but I haven't seen the recipe yet.

That recipe will necessarily require the Greens to have a profile of action and results in local communities. From my armchair perspective, the dominant image of the Greens is solely linked to issues seen as fringe to the bulk of the above mentioned group (asylum seekers, single hulled oil tankers, old growth forest, etc). Regardless of the merit of these issues without the weight to set the agenda, the Greens remain in the periphery.

I'm sure the Greens do things outside of campaigning to gain profile and achieve positive outcomes for communities, but I (as a reasonably well informed non-Green party member) don't know of any. Chances are the large group I've mentioned above are in the same boat.

Part of the problem here IS the delivery mechanism of image itself. This is the hotly debated issue of political influence in media. The Greens (or any party not in power) have a solid point here, but the obvious counter-point is that "there's no such thing as a free lunch". Influence is earned through politics. As with any party, if the Greens aren't able to play politics well, they will not earn influence. It might sound jaded to say it, but the hazard of basing a political party on ethics and morals is the loss of power that comes with deception.

In the end, nobody has trust in their politicians. They have faith in them. The relationship in faith is a much more flexible and redeemable currency than trust.

update: via benoquist.com I can report a result. The Snowy Hydro deal has fallen through in part because of Australian Greens pressure and activity.

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