The slogans politicians use to convince us to vote 0



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As we hurtle towards the July 2 poll, we should remember that the successful art of politics is getting money from the rich and powerful and votes from the poor and marginalised by promising to defend one against the other.

Of course, no political party goes into an election campaign without a snappy slogan which has been devised by an advertising agency, tested on focus groups and generally considered to be inspirational for the vast majority, non-threatening for any suspicious minority and overwhelmingly full of hope of a new and better tomorrow.

Nowadays politicians don’t promise anything as in “I promise a better deal for pensioners” they go the extra mile and vow “I will fight for a better deal for pensioners” – of course, you can substitute “pensioners” for “our brave veterans”, indigenous Australians”, “working class families”, “farmers” , and “the poor and oppressed”. This goes to prove that they are deeply sincere and genuinely committed, doesn’t it?

The subliminal message in these slogans is that the other side will deliberately and actively try to stop it. And the second subliminal message is that if you don’t vote for this candidate/party, you are a heartless, nasty, selfish bastard.

The third subliminal message is that nothing will stand in the candidate/party’s determination to win this fight – all they need is your vote to go to the barricades against the establishment, the rich, the powerful, nasty greedy foreigners, trade union thugs and other dark, hidden forces. Just the right stroke of your pencil will make Australia a better, fairer, more caring and thoroughly decent society. It elevates a political campaign to the status of a religious revival. You will be doing what Jesus did when he drove the money changers from the temple. You will walk out of the polling both with a song in your heart.

Slogans I have seen have included “A New Voice”, “Secure Our Future”, ”A Fresh Start”, “Vote For Tomorrow”, “New Leadership”, “The Right Direction” and “A New Brand Of Politics” – they mean nothing and, depending on who is governing and who is the opposition, they could be interchanged between the Coalition and Labor. The important thing is they are snappy and memorable.

The best slogans are those which actually relate to current events such as “It’s Time”, the 1972 ALP slogan after twenty-three years of Coalition government and “Turn On The Lights”, the 1975 Liberal Party slogan which was derived from a campaign which evolved during a prolonged period of soaring interest rates and government mismanagement and which had as its slogan “Would The Last Businessman Leaving Australia Please Turn Off The Lights”.

Sometimes tried and true political slogans can be recycled – the presumptive Republican candidate for US President in November, Donald Trump, is using “Make American Great Again” – a slogan effectively used in the 1980s by Ronald Reagan. I somehow doubt that “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer” (one people, one empire, one leader) will ever be used again but it worked a treat for the Nazis in the1930s in Germany.

And you have to be careful that your slogan can’t be used as a basis for the opposition to parody you.

In 1964, the conservative Republican candidate for US President Barry Goldwater had a slogan, “In Your Heart You Know He’s Right” and the Democrats responded with “In Your Guts You Know He’s Nuts”. Goldwater lost in a landslide.

Sometimes just a single word can be enough – “Trust” which means the other side is untrustworthy, “Integrity” which means the other side are lying creeps and probably corrupt and “Leadership” which means the other side couldn’t provide it in a fit. Older voters like “Proven Leadership” and “Experience Counts” which means kids won’t be running the show while younger voters like “New Hope” and “New Directions” which means the old farts will be swept aside.

The environment is a key issue so getting the word “green” into a slogan is a wonderful idea – something like, “A Clean Green Future”  and “Stand Up For A Green Australia”. A vote for this party or candidate means climate change will stop, polar caps won’t melt, sea levels won’t rise, the Great Barrier Reef will be saved and endangered species will come back from the brink of extinction.

And it is essential that the candidate/party has a “plan” – “A Plan For Jobs” can be adapted to having a “Plan” for everything from “For Families” or “For Australia”. This proves that a lot of hard selfless work has gone into the nitty-gritty details. It also implies that the other side is a disorganised rabble.

Then again, if you are pissed off with all of this you might find “Don’t Vote – It Only Encourages Them” appeals.

Share your thoughts below: What is the best or worst you’ve heard?


Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

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