Kevin Rudd – The Believer – The Betrayed?

In Australia on June 26, 2010 at 5:58 PM

A man stood before the press corps, and his country, silenced and in tears at his ousting. Kevin Rudd, the believer, betrayed by his own party swiftly and coldly at the first chance they got. How did a Prime Minister who six-months ago lead the opinion polls by a historic majority, fall so far and fast from grace. How did this man become a mockery in such a short period of time?

To look at Kevin Rudd’s downfall, we need to examine the man himself. At the end of the day his dismissal did not arise completely from faulty policy-making, more it arose from autocratic decisions and poor interpersonal skills. A mark of an idealist who could not inspire his fellow party members, though tried to convince the country of his righteousness. A man who had vision but could not put his faith into others to make that vision a reality.

Kevin Rudd is not a bad man. And wasn’t even a terrible Prime Minister. His liberal democratic policies were on large, extremely positive for Australians. As mentioned in his lengthy, blubbering speech conceding his complete and utter defeat to Julia Gillard. During his term as Prime Minister, he historically apologized to the Indigenous population of Australia for their suffering. Managed to keep Australia out of recession through a gutsy stimulus package. And tried to bring about positive changes for education, health and the environment, yet he is despised and ridiculed with a passion usually reserved for men of more heinous resumes.

The problem is that Kevin Rudd tried to do it all by himself. Kevin Rudd forgot, that those that put him in power, like to be consulted and involved with their leader’s decision making. Kevin Rudd forgot that even though he was a true believer of his own cause, he had to convince others of it. More, he seemed to feel he didn’t need to. His way is clearly the right way because he believes it to be so. He forgot that the men who put him in power, had the clout to take it back away from him. Kevin Rudd forgot to play politics whilst playing at leading the country, a true convert of his own rhetoric.

More could be said about the failings of democracy in this process. That a Prime Minister must lend themselves of equal importance to the governance of their country as to the backroom wheelings and dealings of their political party. How do you run a state, when the danger of being unceremoniously stabbed in the back and dethroned is threatened at any given second? Or maybe this is the exact reason that democratic governments exist. Accountability for one’s actions.

The fact that Kevin Rudd’s  ‘I believe’ autocratic-style government distanced himself from his own people, is perhaps a sign that true successful democracy is consultative. That whilst all is well and good for believing in your policy, unless you elicit the support of your party, you are doomed. A lesson for any future Prime Minister could be that winning your party’s support is the first and most important step in enacting policy change. Unless you can convince your party of the validity of your policy, how on earth can you hope to convince your constituents?

The key to being a successful Prime Minister seems to be – to remember where you have come from, who put you there and how quickly they can take it away from you. That you are first and foremost a member of a party, a system and a country that hold you, and your governance answerable for your actions. Kevin Rudd, the believer and the betrayed, forgot that he is in fact a part of a process of leadership and change and not its sole executioner.


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