I’m running for the office of prime minister of Australia at the next election. I have the skill set.
I’ve balanced grocery budgets, read long proposals (like the ones in the mail from real estate agents), and I’m ALL OVER policies. I have a policy to never drink coffee after midday, never wear high-waisted shorts and always put the dishwasher on before I go to bed. I’m so not afraid of policies.
I have worked at the school fete and am therefore well-qualified to handle back-room politics and factional fighting.
All that’s left, really, is representing the country and being skilled in complex negotiations. As a teenager I completed a course (it could even have been diploma level) at The June Dally Watkins School of Grooming and Deportment. If it’s perfectly poised representation you want, I NAIL it. And what do you call the successful return of an opened item from Smiggles? Negotiations? Crushed it.
I’m ALL OVER this Prime Minister business.
Last week Auburn deputy mayor Salim Mehajer announced he would like to be prime minister (his dream to be your average, everyday superstar hit a snag and prime minister ran a close second).
“I would like to start off by being in state, federal and I would like to make my way up to the very top spot. That would be my dream come true,” Mehajer said, with his new wife eerily First Lady-like behind him.
Last month, rapper and reality TV star Kanye West announced at the MTV music awards he was going to run for the US presidency in 2020.
Yesterday, President Obama, gave Kanye some advice: "First of all, you've got to spend a lot of time dealing with some strange characters who behave like they're on a reality TV show. So you've just got to be cool with that".
Kanye can do that, Mr President. 2020 here he comes.
This idea that anyone can run for prime minister or president seems to be catching on. It's like some kind of self-delusional power virus. Powerola.
I’d like to blame the rash of positive affirmations that tell people they can be anything if they just dream it. I keep dreaming I’m a Russian oligarch holidaying on the Mediterranean with a margarita in one hand and the number for seven personal assistants in the other. But I keep waking to having to take the dog outside to do a wee.
Here's the reality: it doesn’t happen, people.
And as much as I would like to blame those pics of sunsets and people doing yoga poses on clifftops with scrawled quotes underneath from 'anonymous', I don’t think it’s as simple as the preponderance of positive affirmations and 'dream and you will succeed' mantras.
This belief in oneself to do anything, at all, stems from a more sinister, or perhaps even sadder, place:
1) The belief that a public profile qualifies you to anything in the public sphere. I mean they both have the word 'public' in them, right?
2) A lack of respect for, and understanding of, experience and ability - which, in turn, proves you don’t really have a clue how the world works. The world needs people in power to have done the hard yards. To have the skills that can only come from decades of working really, really hard in very complex, high pressure jobs.
I don’t want the prime minister of this country to have a life coaching certificate received over the internet stuck on their wall, and two million Twitter followers.
I want them to have a deep level of skill in working in public office and knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, compassion, patience, persistence and passion.
With that in mind I thought it time to review the skills of the incumbents versus the skills of the hopefuls.
Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull qualifications:
- Rhodes Scholar
- Former lawyer, journalist, investment banker and venture capitalist.
- Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement 1993-2000.
- Former Chairman of the Menzies Centre for Research.
- Has initiated many policy and research projects across areas such as education, indigenous affairs, housing affordability etc.
- Elected to the Federal seat of Wentworth in 2004 and in that time has been Minister for Communications, Minister for the Environment, and worked on Standing Committees involved in Defence, Trade, Economics, Health, Constitutional Affairs.
Salim Mehajer qualifications:
- He was re-elected as Auburn deputy mayor last month.
- Property developer.
- He had a big wedding where lots of people and cars came.
- He has very white teeth.
US President Barack Obama's qualifications:
- Former lawyer (attended Harvard and Columbia).
- 1996: elected to Illinois State Senate. Drafted legislation on ethics, health-care services, early childhood education for the poor. He created a state earned income tax credit for the working poor and worked with law enforcement officials.
- 2004: elected to US Senate in where he expanded efforts to destroy weapons of mass destruction, created a website to track Federal spending, pushed for alternative energy sources and championed veteran's benefits.
- 2008: elected as President of the U.S. where he inherited a global recession, two foreign wars. Among a raft of duties, Obama signed off on his health care reform plan known as the Affordable Health Act.
- 2012: Re-elected as President of the U.S. and amongst the issues facing his presidency are gun control, the Middle East conflict, tensions in the Ukraine, and domestic fiscal reform.
Kanye West’s qualifications:
- Is a hugely successful rapper, music producer, reality TV star and fashion designer.
- He is very involved in what his wife, Kim Kardashian-West, wears.
- He has a "Dropout Bear" mascot that appears on the covers of three of his six solo albums.
- He did that thing at one of the awards where he said something nasty to Taylor Swift.
Holding public office isn't about twitter followers or popularity contests or personal dreams. It's about health-care reforms and economic policy, the environment, the future and, the list goes on and on.
Much as we like to think they were, West and Mehajer weren't really joking about their ambitions. They really think they can run entire countries. They have added up their public profiles and their personal dreams of power and the combination equals the top jobs in the country. No substance, ability, skill, experience required. It's kind of funny. And then it isn't.
As one great President (John F Kennedy) said: "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other". He didn't say "leadership and ego are indispensable to each other".
Because if we start to discount the learning and experience and wisdom, I'm going to get my Twitter followers up by posting every meal I eat, rack up those followers to 223 and run for prime minister. Or I’m heading straight to the Royal Prince Alfred hospital to be a brain surgeon.
I’ve sliced lots of ham sandwiches and being a brain surgeon shouldn't be that hard.