Friday, 11 September 2015

Fairey's Theory of Awesomeness (Nominate 2016)

Part of the series Nominate 2016, hoping to open up local government a bit so y'all will at least think about running in 2016.  

Fairey's Theory of Awesomeness
Some elected people think they have been elected because they are awesome.  For those who think this, all they will likely do, once elected, is continue to radiate their awesomeness.  Avoid members of Team Awesome; please don't be one and please don't vote for one.
I've noticed there are really two main kinds of people who are politicians, by which I mean elected people like me.  There are those who think they are elected because they are awesome, and those who have a broader understanding of why they are elected and what the role is.  In my opinion you do not want to vote for the former, and if you run you do not want to be the former either.  

How can you pick who is on Team Awesome?
Those on Team Awesome will of course differ in their individual practice but can often be discerned by markers such as:
  • Low attendance at meetings, briefings and the like that are part of the elected role, particularly if formal minutes are not being taken or the public are not present and/or it is a consultation process where listening and answering questions is key - why would they need to go, they already know how to be awesome!
  • Often very quick responses to public scrutiny such as angry constituent emails, but then no actual follow through on the issue raised - the very fact that they have shared their awesomeness with you by replying is sufficient!
  • A lack of detail in their reporting, or possibly even just no reporting at all - they don't need to prove their awesomeness to anyone, yo, it is self-evident.
  • Confusion between governance and management/operational and also potentially quite a removed idea of governance - their role is to be awesome, that's it!
  • Good blurb and soundbites - because of the awesomeness!
  • Inability to have a detailed dialogue about an issue beyond soundbites - detail and knowledge is for people who aren't awesome!
  • Few completed projects, few if any with much complexity - the awesomeness does not fit well with persistence and consistency, two qualities essential to getting projects done in a democratic environment, sadface.
If you think the above is acceptable once you are elected then please don't run.  This isn't what being a politican is.  For some posts I wrote much earlier (2013) on what being a politician is and can be see here and here.  I'll be revisiting that theme later in this series.

Why does it matter?
Sadly some do operate on the basis of their own awesomeness, and often times they get re-elected too, and they not only give all politicians a bad name, more importantly they fundamentally undermine what can be achieved through the democratic process.  They short change constituents by having a limited vision of the role, of what local government can achieve, and also by spending the time and resources they have access to on being awesome instead of Getting Stuff Done.  (More on what Getting Stuff Done can look like in another post!)  Often they get in the way of people who are trying to get on with the Getting Stuff Done, sometimes deliberately (especially if they are a small government advocate I have found, aka a small c conservative), sometimes accidentally by diverting attention and resources, and other times by the sheer amount of will to live they suck out of other people around them.

TLDR:  It is better to get awesome stuff done than to be seen to be awesome.  If you care about this and want to be involved in making it better then nominate, if you want to be awesome then find somewhere else to do that please. 

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