An exceedingly dull campaign. But why?

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Eva Cox – CPD author – argues that it’s the issues which aren’t being discussed which are defining this election campaign.

Published in Crikey on 22 July 2010.

What election? It’s hard to miss the coverage in the conventional media or even the political junkies using twitter, but the general population seems not to be engaged in the task of deciding our future. Young people contacted through a Vibewire project seemed fairly unaware and uninterested and calls for involvement by some advocacy groups has not been answered by a rush. The media managers know that the debate can’t compete with MasterChef and an hour of slogans will probably be more than most people want.

Is this just apathy or are the issues on the agenda in this particular election so far from what really matters to most of us that people are not bothering to switch on? One odd marker of this disconnect is the emphasis given to asylum seeker/population/immigration dog whistle efforts by the politicos and media. Expert poll readers claim it is not a major vote changer but it has become a hot media issue and obliging interviewees are ready to express probably quite genuine fears and anxieties displaced from other sources.

Why, of all the issues that affect us daily, has this one become so significant? Maybe it is because so little of the rest of the election agenda has any real resonance. Elections need to engage people’s interests and feelings: they need to generate some levels of excitement like a footy match or MasterChef does. Deciding how to cast your vote and making the effort to do so requires some sense of commitment and feel good factor.

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