The most boring election ever just got a little bit more interesting.
Clive Palmer is going to be Prime Minister of Australia. There. I said it. I’m making the call.
Ok, it’s not going to be this election. And realistically, he’s got such a long way to go it’s probably not going to happen.
But I think we need to start taking The Clive seriously.
Ok, at this point I reckon three quarters of you are thinking, “Look out. Jon’s on the kambo again. He’s really lost it this time.”
“There’s no way that buffoon is going to achieve anything.”
But right now, with arguably the most charismatic buffoon ever in charge of the White House, I don’t actually think it’s my case to make. This is the age of the buffoon. Clive Palmer fits the bill perfectly.
But being a buffoon, just as it was for Trump, is actually a strength, not a weakness.
I mean take this bit of graffiti some frustrated inner-city graphic designers got up to over the weekend, defacing one of Clive’s Billboards.
Ok, I’ll be honest. I laughed. This is pretty funny, but mostly because it’s such a ridiculous thing to do to a political poster. If there’s a subtle point about Palmer’s political philosophy, it’s lost on me.
Two things I’d say about this. One, vandalising political posters isn’t cool, and it’s kind of typical of the thought-police censorship that “progressives” are becoming notorious for.
I mean, imagine the uproar if it was a Greens poster. Like, what if I did this:
Ok, wait. I didn’t do anything to that poster. It’s real (from NZ).
But the point is, you don’t like Clive. Sure. He’s an idiot. Fine. But does that give you the right shut-him down?
The second point is, does this hurt Clive? Does it make him look foolish? Does it make him seem less electable to the people who were possibly going to vote for him.
No. Not at all.
This doesn’t touch Clive. When you are so over-the-top that you are practically a caricature already, this kind of stuff doesn’t touch you. It didn’t hurt the Donald and it won’t hurt the Clive.
(It’s kind of like a magic power.)
The other criticism I’m hearing is that he’s importing Trump-style politics, and it won’t work in Australia.
But this isn’t an accidental tactic. This is a deliberate strategy, and I reckon it’s strong.
And really, you’ve got to think about this from a business perspective. Businesses import successful business models from other countries all the time. For some venture capitalists, that is literally all they do. Clive is just doing the exact same thing.
He’s taking the Trump political/business model, and repackaging it for Australia. It’s the same pitch to the same marginalised and forgotten voters, from a similar personality, with literally the exact same slogan.
That’s not an accident and it’s not laziness. He’s doing it because it’s a proven model.
And I’ve watched a handful of his campaign videos. They’re good. Not good as in “I’m sold and I’m going to vote for him” but good in the sense that they’re tight, well-pitched and professional.
I mean take the one from Palmer’s candidate for Abbott’s seat of Warringah. She’s impressive and genuine.
Or take the one from a candidate they call “Dave the Builder”. He’s put on a nice shirt, but then for some reason thrown a high-vis vest over the top. It’s like a casting agency was given a brief for “most two-dimensional Aussie stereotype possible”, but when he says, “Let’s give these mugs a thong-slap,” I’m there screaming “Good-on ya Dave.”
To some people this is just going to seem like a farce. And they’re the same people who just couldn’t understand how Donald Trump got elected.
Palmer has picked his mark, targeted his base, pitched it perfectly and has a business model with runs on the board.
To me, that means he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Australia, are you ready for The Clive?