What on earth would make someone run in a State election, especially when they know they don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of being successful?
But maybe, just maybe it’s important to have another look at the meaning of success.
I’m not a particularly political animal. As my mum would have said, “Politicians give me the pip”, meaning that they generally big note themselves, they make grand promises and don’t deliver, and all too often avoid the things I hold dear. Little things like honesty, integrity and valuing the resources that will enable us to survival on this planet we call home…stuff like that. Cynical? Possibly.
Recently, however, I had the opportunity to sit at the kitchen table and really talk with a young man about his motives for putting himself out there, and throwing his hat into the state political arena.
It’s rarely easy to stand out from the crowd. But here was a young man, who my daughter had known at school, only just finished his University course, declaring that he was unhappy with what was being presented in the current political arena and he was prepared to make a stand.
I’m deeply impressed by Matt’s determination to ‘do something’. When others (including me) were saying:
“Politicians, you can’t trust them”
“Both major parties are pathetic”
“None of them are worth voting for”
“They’re equally as bad as each other”.
Matt was equally unimpressed with what was being offered at both Federal and State levels, and decided that he wanted to learn more and “give it a go”. He really felt the need to do something and be involved in some way that till then had been an unformed need. Matt’s experiences after this reminded me of the expression “bite off more than you can chew, then chew like crazy”.
He really didn’t have much to go on. He has no close family or friends involved in politics, so there was no one to show him the ropes and introduce him to the basic requirements let alone the complexities and demands of running your own campaign on a very small shoestring budget.
But the first hurdle was registering himself as a candidate. He took a day off work at his new job to register, nervously announcing his intention to the seasoned Electoral Manager in Dromana, a small beachside town on the Mornington Peninsula.
The way Matt described it, the manager (very politely and kindly) looked askance at him, enquiring if he really wanted to go through with it, and did he know what he was getting himself in to. The implication was clearly: the other blokes have been doing this for years, they know the ropes, they’re seasoned veterans, this is a safe *Blue Ribbon seat … “What on earth are you thinking!” (*Meaning that the Liberals have been comfortably ensconced here for many many years, and it would take more than a young buck like Matt to knock them off.)
One of the many things I was intrigued to hear was the amount of support Matt received from other very politically astute and experienced people. He explained that most people he met were encouraging and happy to share their wisdom. He described them as being friendly and supportive, and he enjoyed meeting new people and hearing their different viewpoints.
Matt described the experience as being a huge learning curve (really!). He knew he didn’t have a hope of winning, and he’s still keen to become more involved in politics in the future - possibly standing for local council. He feels he’s gained an enormous amount of confidence and has become more assertive. I observed drive and determination, and quite a matter of fact attitude of ‘there’s a problem, what can I do to fix it’ not in any way arrogant, but almost as questions: “How can I help?” “What can I do?”.
I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, young people often get bad press. We rarely get a balanced view or hear of the gutsy young people prepared to get off their butts and see what they can do. We’re leaving them a pretty shabby planet, and they have to pick up the pieces and it’ll take quite a bit of ingenuity to get it back to a good working order again.
Quiet, unassuming, and prepared to follow his heart and seek out new challenges to fulfil an inner need. Matt was rewarded with over 600 votes. For a beginner, learning from the ground up, with few mentors, I think the appropriate word to use is success.