Politics: Engaging with humanity

Posted on July 28, 2010 by

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Australian politics is frustrating, dull and sometimes depressing. A lot of people can’t be bothered thinking about it and don’t see the point of casting their vote. I have a friend who couldn’t get the energy up to care about the events caused by Julia Gillard and another who draws a large cock on any voting slip.

This is not helped by the 2010 election. As many commentators have said, it is dull. The ‘race’ so far is a meandering stroll characterised by non-forceful politics. The debate on Sunday night contained a lot of politicking and waffle, and minimal substantial policy. It was boring and has been rightly described as a joint press conference more than an debate between two leaders. Both Labor and Liberal seem determined to not rock the boat.

Contrary to what it may seem though, and as pointed out in Fraser’s bio, all actions and announcements in election campaigns are carefully planned and tested. So if the election campaign is bland, it was planned that way. So why, so far, are both parties aiming for a quiet election?

Part of this may be the issue of stability. In the background of this election is the disposal of Kevin Rudd, two untested leaders, the after-effects of the financial crisis and general global instability. Neither party wants to disturb the electorate for fear of cries of ‘unstable’ and ‘unsuitable’. So, large ground-shaking panic-stirring proclamations are off the agenda.

On the agenda instead is marketing. Each party is campaigning along the lines of image, counting on voters to vote on personality, reputation and history. This allows them to play with subtle fears such as: the Liberals are stuck in the past, and Labor will only talk or change leaders. ‘Moving Forward’ and ‘Real Action’.

Is this positioning really what Australia has come to? That we prefer nothing, a bland equilibrium, over something? That we reject character, action, the possibility of change alongside the possibility of failure, and the reality of the humanness of politics?

The election is dull, yes. You aren’t engaged with politics, maybe. But politicians and parties are still working on you. Disengaged or not, you will make a decision whatever you do. Whether it is a decision to not care and do nothing or a decision to inform yourself and vote, you will still be influenced by politicking and the campaign, and you will still be responsible for your choice. Each choice is an action and each collective action creates the government who goes on to create the future.

To get engaged, you can find out about your electorates here and here. Mia Freedman has a good guide to actual voting here. I can’t tell you how to follow what’s going on without wanting to hurt something, but the Gruen Transfer and the Chasers will be following the election at 9pm and 9.45pm respectively and Crikey follows the election fairly comprehensively, with email updates here.

Good luck and may it one day be engaging.

Words – Alina Jeeves

Image – Gueorgui TcherednitchenkoOf the moment results were announced in the French presidential election

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Posted in: Alina Jeeves, Opinion