Australia got a sudden reminder of what it used to be, just before it decided what it wanted to be.
The passing of former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke had people in Australia and beyond recalling a bolder politics than now.
Yet the election result has delivered more of the same with voters preferring Prime Minister Scott Morrison's economic management to Labor leader Bill Shorten's offer of change.
Aside from his popularity and common touch, Hawke is remembered for major economic, social and environmental reforms. His treasurer Paul Keating said last week: "He understood that imagination was central to policy making and never lacked the courage to do what had to be done to turn that imagination into reality."
Hawke is also remembered for his compassion. He allowed Chinese students and their families to live in Australia after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre — a decision he took without first consulting his Cabinet.
The loss of Hawke instantly served up a generational comparison on the eve of Saturday's election. The result has shown why Hawke-style big policy ideas, vision, courage, consensus-building and authenticity are in short supply — not just in Australia.
In modern politics, different countries show factors in common: Deep polarisation and factions to be exploited; voter disillusionment and disconnect; party and politicians' interests being put before the overall electorate's concerns; lobbying influence; cynical point-scoring squashing policy-making and an aversion to risk-taking.
In Hawke's 1980s era, political leaders in power could try to win a policy argument and convince voters to go with them.
Now, seemingly big ideas and approaches only work for insurgent-style candidates such as Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. In those cases, the risk is minimised because the candidate has identified a large section of the electorate and is giving them what they want to hear.
If the polls are right, Farage is drawing a large percentage of Conservative voters away from the Tories in Britain, consigning them to about fifth place in this week's European elections. According to YouGov, 62 per cent of people who voted Conservative in 2017 say they will vote for Farage's Brexit Party.
While Australian Labor leader Shorten doesn't inspire people the way Hawke did, he at least had a stab at big ideas. Instead of quietly slipping into government, Labor proposed reforms to tax loopholes. Changes to dividend imputation would have raised A$56 billion over a decade. The party highlighted health spending and climate change.
Hawke had praised Shorten for not making himself a "small target". But making himself a big target appears to have backfired spectacularly.
Morrison forced the campaign focus on to Shorten's agenda, offering little fuel for the fire himself.
The Hawke era has been consigned to the past.