GONE are the days when politicians would speak directly to the people in order to communicate their message. These days, politicians use the media as a shield to try and get the message across.
That’s why they fail to win popular support.
It’s difficult to understand why, if politicians are seeking public support, they cannot go out and interact with the source of their power. Unless, of course, they are bad communicators, are afraid of being embarrassed in public, or are simply ill at ease with crowds.
The Australian Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, is not the most intelligent person in politics in the country; he is not an attractive individual in many ways. But he is brave enough to go out in public and mix with people. Sometimes he comes off as a buffoon, at others, h strikes a chord with the crowd. But no matter what the outcome, he takes that risk.
That is why a man who is detested by the intelligentsia at large now looks very much like becoming the next prime minister when the country goes to the polls in 2013.
Undoubtedly, once Abbott comes to power, people will tire of him pretty soon as he is largely a policy-free zone. He is akin to the premier of the state of Victoria, Ted Baillieu, who was elected in 2010 and had no real plan for the state. Hence he does nothing. He has no ideas, no vision, no plans. He just wants to keep things on an even keel – and that is a difficult proposition during a time when global economic conditions are conspiring against Australia.
Using the media as a shield is not always a good idea. At times, one comes across a journalist and then the politician stands exposed. Hence politicians tend to favour those who will give them an easy ride – people whom one cannot call journalists, people who are more oriented to behave as PR professionals would.
There is a school of thought that manipulation of public sentiment can continue ad infinitum. This is a serious mistake. At some stage, the people do react and will not take it any longer. News Corporation, the biggest media organisation in the world, found this out in a different context when it hacked into the phone of a deal girl and gave the impression that she was still alive; the public reaction forced the prime minister of Britain to act and now the brown stuff has fallen all over the company.
But taking a risk is not part of a politician’s routine. He or she follows the dictates of spinmeisters until the day of being ejected from that seat arrives. Then comes a vow to do it better the next time around. A time which, sometimes, does not eventuate.