In many ways sport is a good analogy for life – regular challenges of competition for which fitness is critical parallel crises in real life; many disappointments when performance falls short; and exuberant elation of winning a prized trophy on comeback, as did Queensland in the State of Origin series. Queenslander!!!
Like many comebacks, mine has been a slow and painful one. Surgery became inevitable with slow and painful deterioration of my hip. As many sports people know, rehabilitation has its own challenges and pain, requiring constant effort with the goal of full recovery in mind. Shortcuts do not rate: just diligent, patient application to the task if I want to take to the field again.
Opposition is really tough for career politicians, many of whom remain committed to serving communities as effectively as possible, regardless of the low esteem in which you may hold them. Achieving this goal is harder from opposition, as the power of incumbency enables government to implement policies promised.
When you’ve been in opposition as long as the LNP in Queensland (25 of the last 30 years) hopes for a comeback in four years, at the earliest, becomes really challenging. Brutal disappointment of a campaign loss after such a committed effort up to the 31 October election, like the Blues after an Origin game, only time can salve LNP political wounds. Surgery has been performed on the Headquarters and leadership to match the surgery voted by the electorate. A brutal diagnosis has to be conducted and fresh leadership needs to gird the loins to generate and communicate policies that will be effective for the people in all areas of the State.
With the right leadership, building a pathway to political comeback should not be hard in a State overloaded with 230,000 public servants, over $100b debt, no budget, even when Labor has changed electoral rules and restricted LNP fund raising.
Mounting a comeback
In an article in the Wall Street Journal, reproduced in The Australian (20 November 2020), campaigner, commentator and author, Karl Rove, outlined a detailed campaign strategy about How Republicans kept Texas red (Republican) that would be useful for an LNPQ comeback.
Despite being outspent by the Democrats $28m to $17m to flip six Texas congressional seats, and being bolstered by former President Obama and a galaxy of outside groups which spent $61m, increased voter turnout did not result in flipping one seat.
Quietly, Republicans had undertaken two big voter-registration drives (voting is not compulsory in the USA), using big data, technology and volunteers from community organisations, encouraged by former GOP chairman. A total of 318,669 additional voters were registered. A total of 35 million voter contacts were made as staff worked with an army of volunteers to canvas 1.3 million doors, complete 3.1 million calls and send 24.1 million text messages, supported by seven million pieces of mail. Micro-targeting identified low-propensity voters with additional encouragement, swing suburban voters and persuadable Hispanics.
Joe Biden won 5.2m votes (more than either Hillary Clinton or President Obama) but in Texas was beaten by Trump, who also increased his votes by 1.2 million to 5.8m. What stood the Republicans in good stead was their record serving the ordinary people, pointing to increased teacher pay and school funding, protections for pre-existing health conditions and an end to surprise billing, property tax reform, mandatory jail for human and sex trafficking, and amendments to ban state income tax. Whereas Democrats left themselves open with their radical agenda of higher taxes, attacks on fracking, oil and gas, federal takeover of health care, repeal of the state’s right-to-work law, flirtation with socialism and defunding the police. Sound familiar?
Although voting is compulsory in Australia eliminating the need for us to generate voter turn-out, enough parallels exist in campaign strategy to help the LNP in Queensland make a comeback by mounting a ground campaign reaching out to constituents on local issues.
A strong opposition is important for any democracy, as a sound contest of ideas is essential to improving the quality of governance. As demonstrated by the unhealthy state of Queensland’s ballooning debt, public sector and unemployment after almost 30 years barely impeded by challenge. That is why it is incumbent upon each of us to be responsible with where we place our vote. As I said in a previous blog if you don’t value your vote, others will manipulate you for it.
Will Trump come back
At the time of writing, it appears Joe Biden has won the USA presidential election, pending legal challenges from Trump’s team. Serious concerns of electoral fraud raised as counting continues weeks after the election, will need to be resolved to restore integrity in the electoral system, whether or not the outcome changes.
Like him or hate him, Trump has shown admirable resilience throughout his presidency continuing to deliver for the American people while having to deal with relentless attacks by the Democratic Party and supporters who still not have accepted the result of the 2016 election with rolling Russian hoax and impeachment efforts, even as COVID began to spread.
In the process Trump has built a strong following of 73 million enthusiastic voters who recognised he spoke for them, however roughly. A comeback is highly likely in some form or another. Watch this space.
Our own comeback
Life’s paths are seldom smooth. Just like me with the hip health issue, we can be taken down by some crisis, uninvited or brought upon ourselves. When struggling in the depths, it is hard to see the way clear to a comeback. Despondency can set in. As a good Buddhist would say, hopelessness is not an option. Ideally we could draw upon some Trumpian resilience to work our way out of crisis to meaningful comeback. It takes heart, effort, application and responsibility. Seek support. Call on family and friends. I know you can do it.
I would love to hear your personal stories of struggle and courage making a comeback – whether in relationships, health or business. All the best.