Scary stories from a lovely place
I am so sick of politics. Disenfranchised. Angry even. Certainly bored and disappointed. I’m considering ‘donkey’ voting in the upcoming federal election. Here in sunny Australia we have to vote. We’re a democracy, but for some crazy reason, voting is compulsory. Not voting is punishable by a monetary fine. So to get around this, sometimes people who feel like me donkey vote. They put the form in the box without marking it. They write their own name (or Luke Skywalker’s) and put a ‘1’ next to it. You get the idea.
I used to think donkey voting was the worst kind of folly. Voting is important, it’s a right that hasn’t always been granted to everyone. I even used to think Christians who didn’t take voting seriously were major sinners. Once I wrote an article for a little Christian newspaper urging people to understand how the preferential voting system worked and what each candidate stood for (I couldn’t bear the reality of thoughtless votes going to the Christian Demo’s). I even used to want to be a politician.
Even so, I may donkey vote in the election in September. Seriously, I don’t want any of them to win. I want them all to shut up so we can get on with our lives and there can be news that isn’t about white men making promises they won’t keep, offering programs funded with invisible money, being uncompassionate and fear-mongering and disrespectful in the way they treat their colleagues and opponents.
I am (was?) a big Labour follower. When I was 12 I met John Howard and decided his party was the one for me (I even tried to join the Young Liberals – Ha!). But when I was older I actually looked at the basic values of the Liberal party and realised they were miles from my own, and actually it was the Labour party I should follow. And I loved them. I shouted Kevin07 loud and proud and I was so relieved when he won. I was glad that Work Choices would be dismantled, that Asylum Seekers might get a fair go, and that Aboriginal Australians would receive the apology that was centuries overdue.
I watched with wet eyes at the beginning of 2008 as Rudd made the all important Apology. But then I moved to another country and my ability to keep up with Australian politics diminished to almost zero. So I didn’t see the insulation thing or the Copenhagen disappointment. Then I moved back in the midst of the Gillard/Bowen Malaysia debacle and I didn’t want to know about it. But after a while, I started to listen to Gillard. And I started to like her. So much, that when she was overthrown by Ruddy a couple of months ago, I cried. Damn, she was a woman of steel (and she got a surprising amount of great policies sorted out despite the nonsense of parliament). I want to be like her.
So now I don’t know what to do. I still like Rudd and the Labour party, their history and values. But I don’t like all the BS. I don’t like their policies on refugees (I don’t see why they can’t sort out the people smugglers in Indonesia, and the requisite corruption that must be in the government there, majorly increase our humanitarian intake and process all the poor souls in mandatory detention). I don’t like all the money they give to car manufacturers. I don’t like all the populist crap that seems to exist just to placate constituents.
But certainly neither could I vote for the Liberal Party. Maybe (with a capital M) if they had a cool, Lefty sort of leader, but not Abbott. Anyone but Abbott – the spawn of conservatism who’s acting all sensibly at the moment. He’s being kind to women (at least those of a certain ‘calibre’), and even-mannered on the environment. He’s matching the Labour Party on good policies left, right and centre. But I reckon he’s champing at the bit to bring back the spandex bike shorts and Work Choices, cut public service jobs and increase the GST.
And so I’m looking around for alternatives. Lots of people have warned me about The Greens, but frankly they’re looking like the most sensible choice. Their values line up with most of mine, certainly on all the important points. I find Christine Milne impressive and balanced. It feels weird to be considering giving my vote to a party that won’t win, and a leader who won’t be the Prime Minister. But damn it, I want a third option!
Maybe the Greens will be it, or maybe I’ll donkey vote as my middle finger to Abbott and Rudd. I’ve still got a few weeks to decide.