Where are the mavericks?

David Lynch

Reporter:

David Lynch

Where are the mavericks?

The general election campaign is well and truly underway. The door-to-door knocking has begun, the fevered reach to grab your vote is on and we're all looking about and wondering why it's so interesting.

The problem I have with it all is that there is just too much beige out there. Very few candidates have hooked my attention thus far by saying anything which is constructive, forward-thinking or genuinely achievable given the known constraints.

Election campaigns are always a source of much promising and dream-making. The urge to grab a piece of power can make a liar of you if you're not careful of course.

Naturally our collective interest in the election will heighten considerably in the next few weeks as the political parties unload their war chests of advertising and marketing money on a suspect public.

It makes me think of the recently deceased Peter Short. A local member of the Workers' Party and a near constant at the doors looking for support at election time in years past, Peter was anything but beige. No matter what the previous election result, you could bet your house that Peter would be back at your door in five years time, flying the flag and still up for it.

It's the characters you miss the most really. Politics has always been a smoke and mirrors game and although polls suggest distrust of this group more than ever before, we always knew there was a pattern of compromise required in order to get elected - it's just a matter of how far you would go against your original principles to achieve a place at the top table.

Character and charisma make up for a lot of other deficiencies in a public representative. Mind you if you look at the American presidential campaign it's at the other end of this spectrum - character seems to be everything, mostly grotesque caricature of late however.

So somewhere in between is about right. Take Bill Clinton for instance; a much flawed human being and politician, but the fact that he still ranks as one of America's top presidents says much about his ability to make people forget his past indiscretions and see that ultimately he's just a sinner like the rest of us.

The slick PR training and image-shaping today has robbed us of these characters. It's rare now that a politician would say anything out of line or so far away from party-thinking that he or she would risk being made a political pariah.

Where are the mavericks? Those that will try to get things done even if opinion is divided. Force of will and an ability to push things through to completion are a much desired quality in any politician.

Saying that though, a steady hand at the wheel is sometimes the safer option. This country has been through the wringer of late and it appears that it's heading into calmer waters, for a bit anyway. But, the upshot is that a much needed re-think in how we run and shape our country is very unlikely now - we've gone back to sleep once more.

Sometimes, in the long run, the safer option can be the more dangerous.