It’s a vision thing: S’pore politics to come

It’s a vision thing: S’pore politics to come
TODAY file photo.
Published: 3:59 AM, January 30, 2013
Updated: 3:50 AM, January 31, 2013
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In 1992, Mr Bill Clinton decisively and surprisingly defeated Mr George H W Bush in the American Presidential elections.

Mr Bush, the scion of political aristocracy, was a highly experienced politician who had just won a major victory in the first Gulf war. Mr Clinton, a generation younger, was from a poor family from a poor state, Arkansas.

The parliamentary process already exists to allow for rigorous debate on policies. What we need now is the political imagination and courage on all sides to work on our problems constructively.

The Republican Party had been in power for 16 years and had reshaped American foreign policy, public finance and financial systems.

Mr Clinton was thus an underdog candidate from the underdog party. But he won anyway.

His campaign had two defining themes: “It’s the Economy, Stupid” and “It’s a Vision Thing”. It correctly identified that voters cared more about their personal future economic prospects than they did about past political (ending of the Cold War) or military (Gulf War I) success.

Mr Clinton also had the political instinct to see that voters wanted a shared sense of purpose beyond individual circumstances. Through his power of communication, he gave them a vision of what America could be and could accomplish. He realised that it was not an either-or situation — both economics and vision had to be complementary.

Arguably, Singapore’s politics today is dominated by the same themes. The political force which can provide a compelling case on both fronts will eventually prevail, regardless of the advantage of incumbency.


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