The great myths of election campaigns

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Nothing brings out hypocrisy, misunderstanding and total ignorance like an election campaign.

And no, I’m not talking about the politicians (though they certainly do their best to fit into these categories a lot of the time).

I’m talking about that select group of voters whose ability to have coherent conversations and debate at times like this goes out the window.

And in 2022, with social media and a hot political climate colliding, the great myths of elections and politics are skyrocketing to prominence.

My favourite is the line that local members and candidates “only come out at election time”.

It’s not true, but if it was, thank God for that! Do you really want your elected representative in your face every time you go to the shops, catch a train or walk down High Street?

The truth is you only have to follow said representative on social media, read your local paper or pay the slightest bit of attention to the local news cycle to know the vast majority of local MPs are indeed active in their community for their entire term – outside of doing the actual core element of their job in Parliament or their local electorate office itself.

You may not agree with their side of politics, how they vote on issues or be happy with their overall performance, but the argument that local representatives disappear into a cave once elected couldn’t be more wrong and I’ll challenge anyone to a debate on that furphy.

Of course you see more of them at election time; that’s the point. It’s your chance to review their last term, listen to them about the next, or in the case of candidates take in what they believe needs to change and what they’ll do to instigate that new direction.

Of course many of those who trot out the line that they never see politicians are also angry of said politician’s constant presence in media photos.

So which is it? Are you seeing too much or too little of them?

It is indeed part of a politician’s job to attend openings, cut ribbons and visit community organisations. And it is the media’s job, particularly at a local level, to report on these happenings – mundane as they may be at times.

Ah, the media. Evil and biased, right?

The intrusion of social media, more citizen journalism and 24/7 news cycles has changed the way the public sees the media, and much of it is uninformed and unfair (of course, there’s a few bad eggs out there, nobody is denying that).

One thing I’ve noticed, particularly in recent times, is the inability of some to separate a publication’s journalism from the opinion pieces of its columnists.

Such opinion pieces are more and more common these days as media organisations learn to evolve and deliver fresh stories in a world now governed by a thirst for original content.

Newsflash: Opinion columns are biased. That should be a given. Everyone’s opinion is bias – that’s the very nature of an opinion. It’s the writer’s view on a topic, slanted via a whole range of things whether it be their beliefs, upbringing, morals, knowledge of the matter or just where things happen to be in their life and the lives of those they engage with.

Last week I wrote a piece about Labor’s housing plan and, predictably, copped it in the comments section of our Facebook page. Water off a duck’s back and it comes with the job.

But the irony of trolls taking shots at an opinion piece and calling out what they perceive to be inherent bias with insults, profanities, personal attacks and unfounded accusations is extraordinary and absurd.

A few commenters, who have lamented bullying and online attacks in public forums in the past, should know better.

Suggestions that publications as a whole are biased because certain columnists share their views on certain subjects in opinion pieces is offensive to the hard-working journalists who produce fair and balanced content day after day and week after week at media organisations across the country.

Declaring any media organisation right-winged, left-winged, biased, wrong or right just because it produces a story that is not favourable to your favourite candidate is petty and embarrassing,

Balance and bias will always be in the eye of the beholder.

And to finish with one of my favourite political myths: all politicians are liars.

It’s true that there’s plenty of truth stretching and long-winded answers when it comes to politicians.

But on the whole, governments do meet the vast majority of the promises they make, and those that fall over are generally via circumstance, not deliberate misleading of the voting public.

And when they don’t meet promises, those evil media organisations call them out on it. Funny that.

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