Politicians need to connect with grassroots communities to really understand the
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« on: August 27, 2017, 04:14:42 pm »

MOST people could sense a swing against the Coalition in the lead-up to the last Federal Election.

Polling suggested Lyons was a risk but the seats of Braddon and Bass were likely to be held by the incumbents.

Then, within the first few hours of polling night, it quickly became apparent all three local Liberal MPs would be swept from power.

It gave this newspaper an easy “Adios Amigos” headline but it also prompted some serious soul searching across political parties and media.

We all knew the swing was on, but even the most seasoned polling analysts didn’t predict such a merciless whitewash.

In the end, it was former Lyons MP Eric Hutchinson who actually performed the best of the Liberal members.

Much post-election analysis has since occurred, with the Coalition largely blaming a “Mediscare” campaign.

Our analysis pointed the finger firmly at the worst Federal Election campaign we could remember by a sitting government; a centralised, largely meaningless and fairly random collection of thought bubbles that failed to connect with Tasmanian voters and issues they actually cared about (think health).

It all matters little now. The change occurred and the federal ALP appears to be going from strength to strength. But, above and beyond everything else, it highlighted the importance of connecting with grassroots communities, whether you are a local MP, a political party, a councillor or a journalist ... and the damage that can occur if you don’t.

If everyone had listened a little harder, worked more closely with those affected communities, the outcome may well have been far less of a surprise.

US president Donald Trump won largely on the back of a constituency that had lost faith in the so-called “elite”; a backlash against a mainstream political and media establishment that many felt only reflected what was happening in the corridors of powers, not the struggling, working class communities that actually held the sway of the vote and were battling to make ends meet. In our political discourse, they are often referred to as the inner-city latte sippers. Mr Trump exploited that to perfection.

That is our challenge, particularly leading into the next State Election, with a rise likely in minor party influence and an increasingly volatile electorate: to look at the real issues and how people at the coal face feel these issues genuinely affect their lives.

To get beyond the politics, the activists and the rent seekers on all sides of the political spectrum, and tell the real stories of real people, their hopes, dreams, challenges and aspirations.

As the US has blatantly shown us all, ignore this at your peril, for that is where the real power lies.

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