Every election but most often during local council and state government elections, the respective political parties position candidates and volunteers at strategic street intersections in the electorates. Most often on Saturday mornings of course as people drive to jobs, families go to weekend sport, mums go shopping, dads go to Bunnings and Gen Y sleeps in, these people wave at you as you drive by.
Dressed in a T shirt in the red or blue or green of the major political parties these people sit under umbrellas of the same colour on fold away chairs usually accompanied by a coreflute sign and some flyers for pedestrians.
Right now today they are out there on the streets of Brisbane as the fake state election campaign gains momentum. Risking sunburn and arguments with passers-by of the opposite political persuasion they wave sometime frantically, sometimes casually at the passing traffic.
Sometimes a car blows its horn presumably in recognition of their presence, or maybe in support of the candidate or perhaps just a “Oh look there is Ella from my yoga class or Frank from the bowls club.”
My question is why?
What does this exercise accomplish?
Has their been scientific research done that clearly indicates a volunteer dressed and behaving in such a way changes voting preferences?
Why the fuck would I change my vote just because some person I don’t know waves at me from the edge of the roundabout?
There is something almost Monty Pythonesque in the phenomenon.
I can imagine the post mortems after each weekend when they get back to the reinforced party bunker. Someone counts how many wave backs were received, the rude gestures to smiles ratio in each electorate, what type of cars gave positive responses to our party? Are European 4WD drivers too cool to acknowledge our presence or just busy trying to find a big enough park for the Q7?
Is the Southside friendlier than the North?
Is this the modern day equivalent of when candidates got up in town halls, parks and actually spoke to the electorate? Putting up with and putting down hecklers the candidates would put forward and argue their policies and explain how their government would be different and arguably better than the other side.
Points of view were presented, articulated and explained and then there might come some baby holding and street walking. If so, this is a piss poor substitute.
I guess the other profession where you prostitute yourself on the street is now operating from legal brothels so maybe politicians decided to take over the vacant space on street corners, with waves and come hither smiles.
Sometimes the political parties take over opposite corners of the same intersection where presumably they glare across the bitumen and white lines at each other like medieval armies jeering each other up. What I wouldn’t give to see someone start some kind of conflict with water bombs, cream pies, kale smoothies or rocks, depending on your commitment level and value system of course. Lobbing missiles at each other over the passing traffic.
Or even better develop some mascot costumes and stage mock mascot battles. The Liberals mascots could be some kind of lumbering dinosaurs, the Labour Party would be yappy dogs, Pauline Hanson party mascots would just have Pauline Hanson costumes and masks [such is the cult of personality] and the Greens could be gigantic lemmings.
Why not save on the sunscreen and wear and tear on your camping chairs and hit the streets with some hard work by doorknocking?
At least walking the streets and knocking on doors you get the opportunity to present your case, get feedback and an understanding of where the voting sentiment is. Standing on the corner flapping your arms at passers-by seems like a desperate attempt to show you still exist.
The other problem is the young voter is completely ignored in this farce. Most mornings they are still asleep when the brave party volunteer folds up the chair, downs the umbrella and goes home for a well-earned rest safe in the knowledge that in a small way they have been fighting the good fight.
If not the young are off to a Saturday job and given what they got up to last night any distractions while they are driving like gazing incredulously at some goose in a primary colour t shirt waving frantically from the edge of a busy intersection is the last thing we need.
Or even better pick a place where the weary traveller can pull over and rest. Put on some tea, coffee and baked goods or if it is summer as it is in Brisbane for 9 months of the year offer a cold drink and some regional produce from the district. You know the thing - strawberries, mangos and pineapples. The way to a man's heart is through his stomach so that is 50% of the population ticked off straight away. Plus it would double as an all-important revive and survive site for long distance drivers.
Or how about merging Uber and campaigning?
The political parties offer free transport to key locations in the district in return for them badgering you like an old-fashioned taxi driver about how useless the opposition parties are and how they would do a better job.
At least the volunteer or candidate would be in a nice cool car and not standing under a tree fighting off vicious magpies, flies and an overwhelming stink of dogshit from that passerby who you are sure left the dog turd there as an indication of his voting intention.
Wouldn’t it be easier if we go back to the past? Just allot an area of the public parks scattered through the suburbs on a roster for the parties to appear and present the cases. If they were smart they would synchronise with the local sporting teams home games there by guaranteeing maximum effect.
And besides can you claim for RSI if you get a shoulder strain from waving constantly for four hours at people who mostly don’t give a shit?
Seriously, this is a pointless exercise in self-aggrandisement.
I look at it this way. If they are this lazy, unoriginal and irrational in their campaigning to get elected how can you vote for any of them?