Monday 18 March 2019

It's like a talent show - you have to make the audience want you

DECISIONS, DECISIONS: This time, we need to give it our best shot! Photo: Brian Farrell
DECISIONS, DECISIONS: This time, we need to give it our best shot! Photo: Brian Farrell

Willie Kealy

Trying to be different is not easy. Trying to be the best is hard. But it's what you have to do if you want to succeed.

Of course it helps when trying to be different and showing you are the best, if the atmosphere is one of chaos, confusion and fear. The new Greek Prime Minister achieved it by being young and radical and making the kind of promises that people wanted to hear. Plus he was batting against a tired administration that exhibited all the signs of a team that had given up.

It's like a talent competition in a way. Everyone is getting up and dancing all the right steps competently and you want to be noticed when it's your turn. You can stand on your head, show your knickers and scream yourself silly like Paul Murphy. Or you can insert a couple of extra tricky steps, like Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour - and even Lucinda's Reboot Ireland.

But chances are it won't be enough to distinguish you from the pack. No, what you have to do is go out there and actually be the best, be outstanding so that your natural ability shows through and makes the audience say: "Yeah, now that's what we've been looking for."

So who is likely to do that in the next election? It all depends. Are we in the grip of an unstoppable tide that started in Athens, is moving to Madrid and will then inexorably wash up on our shores. If so, the times could favour Deputy Murphy and his associates, though there's a good chance most people, when they look at his recent actions, will realise that a gobshite with an agenda is still a gobshite. Or it could be Sinn Fein, God help us. Maybe the more considered Richard Boyd Barrett will shine or Clare Daly or Mick Wallace. But what if the taste for radical change does not arrive on a Greek tide? It's looking far from certain at the moment. Does that mean we are doomed to see no change at all?

Maybe we'll just shout and roar and moan and complain for a while. But then when decision day comes, we'll slink back into our safe old ways, seduced by the lure of "stability." By then, the Greek experiment may have come unstuck. The Spanish adventure may never get off the ground, and we may lose the courage gained from seeing others triumph.

On the other hand, we may see an alternative avenue for change, what they call in politics, a third way. It may be that someone will come forward and be recognised as the real deal, for being the best at what it is we want them to do. It could be Shane Ross and some of his fellow Independents, or maybe Stephen Donnelly taking a new approach.

The audition is on. And the electorate are a tough crowd. They are intolerant of anything that looks or sounds like the same tired old "hard times" stuff they've been listening to for almost a decade now. But they're not looking for a novelty act either. What they yearn for is a touch of class. The next big thing.

Here are a few tips from the judges: We are looking for substance, not soundbites. We want integrity not ideology; intelligence, not cuteness. We need democrats, not demagogues. We want to see courage, not bravado. We want people who can go the distance, not political sprinters.

So come on guys and gals, give it your best shot. Let us hear your voices.

Make us want to turn our chairs around and cheer.

John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015

The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section