Does anyone else feel the way that I do about candidates standing at the side of the road waving at traffic? To me it looks to be about the dopiest thing you could do in a day.
I know politicians are expected to do some things to get elected that most professionals in other occupations would find unacceptable – for example walking around the neighbourhood knocking on doors and accosting people like a JW – but I understand why and have been prepared to do it myself in the past.
However I would draw the line at standing by the side of the road in the early morning waving at traffic on its way to work.
It seems to me to be a poor use of a candidate’s time. At a time of the day when they could be talking to people at bus stops and train stations why stand by the side of the road merely waving at them.
I’ve asked a couple of candidates and they’ve told me it’s about name recognition. My response is to ask what sort of name recognition they’re getting and why they couldn’t get just as much by buying a billboard on the roadside.
Better still they could do what I used to do. We used to deck a big flat tray light truck out with signs, and one of my friends would drop me off at bus stops where I’d spend ten minutes talking to commuters, and then hop back on-board and we’d head off for the next stop. When you weren’t using the truck for anything else you’d park the truck somewhere high visibility for the rest of the day.
It’s hard to front-up to a bus stop and talk to total strangers, but after a week or so, you start striking-up friendships and relationships, which is exactly what a budding politician should be trying to do. At the same time your truck is not only visible on the main road, but gives commuters the message that you’re actually out and working engaging with people, and it’s engagement that people want from politicians more than anything else (apart from perhaps empathy).
Standing by the side of the road and waving suggests to me that not only are you unimaginative, but it’s like using a megaphone with a flat battery to try and connect.
Perhaps I’m just biased because the first candidate I ever saw employ this technique was Michael Johnson, the disgraced former MHR for Ryan. It looked pretty dopey when I first saw it, but maybe I was just channelling my uneasiness with Johnson who distinguished himself by perpetrating the first ethnic branch stack in the Queensland Liberal Party, in the process doing the party a lot of damage in the blue ribbon seat of Ryan.
And perhaps not. What do you think? Are you more likely to vote for someone because they waved at you from the side of the road?