Note to readers: I am letting this stand as the front post for the moment, adding stuff from comments as we go along. Feel free to join in - there is still time.
You have nearly persuaded me that ‘monitory’ might be a good term to use to describe modern democracy, but kvd had almost persuaded me to the opposite viewpoint. I’m not sure that monitory captures the asinine aspect of modern politics – particularly use of focus groups to find meaningless words that have an appealing ring to them and using those words as a substitute for policies. For example: ‘moving forward with plans to build a sustainable Australia’.
Winton's example really made me laugh, for I have long complained about current "policy" statements with their pastel colours, obligatory if usually meaningless photos plus catch phrases devoid of content.
I thought, therefore, that I would issue a challenge to readers to nominate meaningless slogans. They can be actual examples, Working Australia comes to mind, or parodies. Mind you, they could be both! Again Working Australia comes to mind!
I am not sure that I can offer a prize, but surely between us we can come up with a list that might be a prize in itself?
Just an immediate addition from Neil Whitfield:
Quite a bit later
I think that we have to start with this one. kvd wrote:
For anyone interested, go to this page - http://www.liberal.org.au/Policies.aspx/ - to see the complete collection of Liberal Party policy PDFs. Click on any link, and what you get is an error page which says There appears to be a problem.
Wait, why am I here?
Says it all, really.
I thought kvd must be joking and went to check. At least at the time I write, that is exactly the message that comes up.
Katz nominated John Howard, January 1987: INCENTIVATION. No, I don't know what it means either.
Winton Bates wrote:
I have taken up kvd’s suggestion of trying to think up some new political slogans. However, I found it quite difficult to come up with phrases that were as meaningless as those which have already been used by professional politicians.
Here are some suggestions for the focus group to consider:
1. Building highways to happiness.
2. Health care we can live with.
3. Re-building the education revolution.
4. Working schools.
5. Launching islands of innovation.
6. Building a bigger Australia.
7. Empowering national ecology.
8. Moving people together. (That might require some explanation. It is a potential policy for solving the peak hour public transport problem in Sydney.)
At that point I lost the plot and starting thinking about how it might be possible to sell a stronger emphasis on defence spending without mentioning defence:
9. Diplomacy of the future.
10. Stepping up national sustainability.
Then, when the time comes to declare war:
11. Building bridges to peace.
Evan was forced to bow to Winton's Orwellian expertise, as was kvd. But kvd, that almost rusted on conservative warrior struck back
It's absolutely pointless competing against Winton's years of obfuscation - sorry, that should be experienced cynicism - but anyway:
For the Liberal Party:
We don’t stand for what they do.
We won’t stand for anything!
Sensible government: a new concept
Time to believe in something.
Putting the ‘great’ back into expectations.
We have a plan.
We’re in this together
A plan to move on but in another direction.
Free scratchies for every vote.
More of the same, only less so. Sorry.
And whoever concocted "moving forward" is a genius. Most probably Winton's nephew, I expect.
Mmm. Time to move forward, I think!
Meantime, over on Twitter, Paul Barratt was moving forward in a maritime direction:
If we move forward embracing a new future by stopping the boats we could well need a great new tax!
Keep it coming all!
A final postscript
Additions to those previously listed.
Ramana's Indian addition was divine benevolence. Winton and kvd have decided to cross-licence from each other 'We don't stand for what they do'" and "Launching Islands of Innovation" respectively. I could actually do something in real policy terms with launching islands of innovation! And a final word from Paul Barratt:
It's interesting. When I began this post I was thinking of actual slogans that got attached to policy and could actually have no real meaning. They are rather different from political slogans that may not, of themselves, have real meaning but which act as hooks on which to hang a series of attitudes. The worst political slogans can be those that do have meaning.
Take Stop the Boats or a Great Big Tax as examples.
A Great Big Tax may not be factually correct, although that is arguable. In any event, it is a device for putting across a simple message. Apart from its impact on voter perception, the slogan carries no call for action beyond, perhaps, the repeal of certain pieces of legislation.
Stop the Boats is different. That slogan combines a call for direct action with a very specific hook designed to attract certain sets of views. That makes it very different from a Great Big Tax. Taken to its logical extreme, it could be achieved by the handy application of gun fire - or a torpedo or a missile, actions then justified by the slogan itself. We had to Stop the Boats.
You see what I mean?