I don’t know if you heard, but there’s an election on tomorrow. Malcolm and Bill want you to be ‘careful’. Don’t listen to them. Have some fun.
I know a lot of people have probably missed it, but there’s an election on tomorrow.
I know right? Who would have known?
I think this will have to go down as one of the blandest elections of recent times. That’s seems to be the general consensus. It’s a total yawn fest.
And what’s missing? Where’s all that sparkle gone? Where’s the razz-a-mataz and the glitter?
I’ll tell you what the missing ingredient is:
Elections have become a vicious business in Australia. And personally vicious. Think of the personal hate directed at Abbott, Rudd and Gillard.
No one’s saying Turbull is a baby-hating onion eater. No one’s threatening to roll Shorten up in a bag and dump him at sea.
(Well, no one worth listening to.)
And what happens? Do we welcome a more mature debate and a return to policies over presidential personalities?
Nope. We switch off. Bo-oring. We complain about how dull the whole show is. We want to see the contestants breaking down in hissy fits and throwing chairs. Not all this budget blah blah blah.
(Not that that will stop us blaming the politicians for taking the country down the gurgler afterwards.)
Personally, I’m glad there’s been a bit of a duller tone to things. It was getting a little ugly there for a while. There’s was a lot of serious anger and venom on both sides. A lot of it totally de-hinged from reality. I was worried that this was the way of the future. Just endless swipes and bitching and bomb-threats on Canberra’s Got Talent.
Thankfully though, we’ve got a dull election on out hands.
Of course this raises the danger that people start getting a little creative with their votes. If the whole business hasn’t been polarised around two figures, there’s an opportunity to broaden the view and see who else is on the ticket.
What a dangerous, dangerous idea.
Turnbull used Brexit as an opportunity this week to remind people that they’re servants to a two party system, and if they don’t want the kind of chaos that’s supposedly happening in Britain, then they’d better be ‘careful’ with their vote.
Shorten has also been trying to ward off the protest vote from people who actually want progressive alternatives, not just Liberal Lite.
And right on cue, the major papers have started towing the line, arguing that we need stable government, and stability comes with a clear majority in the lower house and firm control of the senate. So we should be ‘careful’.
Seriously, get stuffed.
How is any of that my problem?
There is an entitlement mentality in the major parties: “There’s only one question on election day, and that is, does Labor rule, or do the Liberals. That’s it. Don’t get all uppity and start voting for minor parties or independents.
It just gets confusing. And don’t you see how dangerous that is? When the major parties are confused about who’s in charge?”
Too right I see how dangerous that is and bring it on. I’m totally willing to get a little ‘careless’ with my vote. I’m willing to get reckless even. I’m willing to piss it up against the wall in a jubilant spree of democratic freedom.
There is absolutely nothing that says the major parties are entitled to my vote. Nothing. If the idea of a representative democracy holds, then I should be voting for whoever I feel best represents my interests. If that’s the Small Fluffy Dog Lovers Party, then so be it.
If that creates problems in the way the major parties are then able to dictate policy to the rest of the country, then so what? That means there’s a problem with the system. It means we don’t have a system that can fully work with individual and free expression.
It DOES NOT mean that there is a problem with the people and that people should be more ‘careful’ and only vote Liberal or Labor.
It looks more and more to me like we’ve outgrown the system. Because, ironically enough, reality TV has given us a taste of democracy.
Imagine The Voice running 10 finalists, and at the end of the night, you only got two phone numbers to vote for. And you were told what those two were and that you had better be ‘careful’.
Vote now and win a car!
No way. People know what democracy’s like now. They wouldn’t wear it.
But we’re being asked to wear it tomorrow. And if the system delivers outcomes that aren’t neat, then the people are to blame.
Seriously, News Corp, Fairfax, you can take that idea and stick it right up your back pages.
Right now, the system and the people are in conflict. Something’s got to give. The media and the major parties hope that it’s the people.
I hope it’s the system.
So let’s take it to breaking point. Get a little wild with your vote. I’m not saying waste it by drawing a cock and balls on the ballot paper or not researching who your candidates are and what they’re about.
But vote for whoever floats your boat. Vote for the Bank Reform Party or the Help End Marijuana Party if you feel they’ve got your back (and they’re not just a funnel for the major parties… ok, there is a bit of work here. But no one said democracy was easy.)
And let the senate be messy. Let us have 76 Senators from 76 different parties. Let it be a vigorous and heated debate of ideas (like democracy was supposed to be), not just a formulaic rehashing of party-lines.
And when they come back and say, ‘tsk, tsk, look at the mess you’ve made, you naughty voters,’ say ‘yes, looks like the system needs an upgrade. Let’s talk about that.’
Just don’t let lecture me about being careless.
Seriously though, enjoy your vote folks. It may be an imperfect and limited taste of democracy, but it still something denied to many. We’re still the lucky country in a lot of ways.
Are you feeling same as me about this election?
Do you expect much to change, regardless who gets in?