The new machine men
Why am I (and a few others) blogging about campaigning in Australia and New Zealand?
Lots of reasons! A few years ago (back in 2008) a started a thesis and explained: ‘A quick review of recent Australian research on political campaign techniques, as well as popular literature, reveals no published political campaigning texts or ‘manuals’. There are numerous papers and books on different aspects of campaigning, such as books on media advice and numerous political biographies, as well as accounts of recent election campaigns, but no authoritative texts or manuals that look at Australian political campaigning as a whole, detailing all the aspects of campaigning from the foundations (like strategy, message and finance) to the work that goes on in the trenches as candidates and their teams fight for each individual vote. The two closest texts that can be used as examples of public “campaign handbooks” in Australia are Mills’ ‘The new machine men: polls and persuasion in Australian politics’ and Stockwell’s ‘Political Campaign Strategy – Doing Democracy in the 21st Century’. This apparent disparity in publicly available instructional literature, in comparison to the United States could be due to a number of reasons including differences in historical, political and cultural norms, voting systems, the relative sizes of the political institutions and professional class, as well as financial regulations and wealth.’
The purpose of that thesis (which I haven’t completed as of 2014!:) was to produce scholarly research on campaigning techniques in modern Australian politics. Since I started it (back in 2008) a lot has been written about campaigning techniques in modern Australian politics by MANY other people, including favourites such as Stephen Mills, Peter Brent, Nick Economou, Brian Costar, Sally Young, Mike Smith, John Hart, Ian McAlister, John Warhurst, Wayne Errington, Peter van Onselen and Jennifer Rayner, just to name a few!
One of the reasons for this blog is the same as that original attempt at a thesis. To create a repository of collected thoughts, experiences and references for my own information and to share with like-minded individuals. Someone also pointed out to me recently (and I suspect it to be true) that more people will eventually read the blog than ever read the thesis anyway! Also this blog will prove one of the universal truths about campaigning, recently paraphrased by our PM: “No single person is the suppository of all wisdom”.
This blog also will (over several years probably 🙂
1. Share lots of stories, jokes and interesting info about campaigning in Australia and New Zealand
2. Question some myths about US-style campaigning in Australia. Australian campaigning news still dominated by US-based media (I’m just as guilty as the next political geek of over-sharing news about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton)
3. Smash some misinformation shared in the MSM about campaigning in Australia (mostly by sharing wisdom and sage analysis from some of the writers listed above and others).
4. try and bridge the chasm that often separates political scientists and political practitioners, mainly by sharing some of the political wisdom and analysis that is regularly done within academia but doesn’t get much coverage outside of academia.
5. Help me keep numerous links , clippings and references to lots of existing, interesting blogs and media articles that deserve to be congregated in one place for easy future reference. Again, this may take years so please be patient if you read this within the next six months and wonder wtf?! 🙂
6. Share my recently discovered joys and benefits of blogging!