I think we need a slogan. John Howard had one when he said “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances under which they come”. Tony Abbot’s was even simpler: “stop the boats”. It’s clever, even if despicable, politics. Slogans take complex issues and reduce them to a single bite-size chunk which people can quickly and easily digest, that helps them make sense of what is going on.
Bad slogans do this by obscuring the truth and preying on our fears. Good slogans open us up to new possibilities, they create a horizon of hope. Think of “Make Poverty History” or the Jubilee debt campaign’s “drop the debt”. In their time these were outrageous aspirations, but they drove people to think that the world really could be different.
We are confronted at the moment with a very dark part in our history. We have shut our borders to people who are fleeing the most unimaginable atrocities, instead packing them off to indefinite and inhumane detention centres on Nauru and Manus island, where the continued uncertainty about the future drives them to despair and hopelessness. Over one thousand children are included in the number of those detained.
So I’m searching for a slogan that creates a horizon of hope for my fellow Australians, that reframes the conversation. Some interesting possibilities have already emerged. “Love makes a way” is particularly strong. But I’m searching for something even more specific, something along the lines of “make poverty history” or “drop the debt”.
Would love to hear your suggestions.