Brace Yourself. Election Time Is Coming! This is a time of trepidation, or excitement, of optimism and cynicism. And I sincerely hope for everyone out there, it’s a time for reflection. A time to consider what the last few years have brought us, who we currently are as a nation and who we want to be in the future. History is something that can be learned from, and my most optimistic self hopes that we all review and consider every time we vote in a process of continuous improvement, ensuring that the trajectory of this country, through corrections, is toward a brighter future.
In the spirit of reflection, though, I recall an unpleasant exchange with a good friend right after the last election, right before the Tony party romped to power on a platform that outlined an even harsher and more conservative than we’re used to seeing from the LNP. It was a regrettable interaction that seriously damaged the friendship and went a little like this:
- They: “My friends are all judging me. They’re saying I’m against LGBT rights and the environment and refugees and immigrants and stuff”
- Me: “That might be because you voted against LGBT rights and the environment and refugees and immigrants and stuff”
I can’t do justice to my friend or his case by paraphrasing soundbites – he’s a very smart guy who actually thinks about policies and their implications rather than simply inheriting a bias like so many people I know. But the conversation went south and he ended up telling me that my comment wasn’t exactly dripping with class, to which I responded that the choice of wording was telling and that my manners weren’t at issue here… and things got tense and stayed that way for an extremely long time.
Was I a jerk? Probably – I often am. Was I being a sore loser? Sure (though I was more concerned with the fate of Australia than whether I had voted for the winning team or not). Was I wrong? I don’t believe so, even now I look back on the consequences of that election.
The Tony party lied about a lot of things; “No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS” and then did exactly the opposite. A mere ten months into his “leadership” he broke his 50th election promise, which is an impressive record. He did all sorts of things that he never indicated he’d do, from using public money to fund his vanity published book, to scamming a scholarship for his daughter and bullying the girl who blew the whistle on it, replacing school councillors with Chaplains to put his personal religious agenda into the government, and giving Prince Phillip and knighthood on Australia day. His talk about reducing the nation’s debt didn’t make us think he’s actually double it. We knew he was sexist and creepy but it was still shocking just how much so we never guessed he’d appoint himself “Minister For Women” before (anticipating Trump), objectifying his own daughters, his own female staffers and women he was photographed with. Nobody ever could have imagined he’d advocate paying off people smugglers. The stupid and dishonest things he did that we didn’t expect could fill volumes.
But Tony was incredibly honest about some things – He openly stated that he’d resist any progressive moves to giving the LGBT community marriage equality or any other kind of equality. He was very clear about his position on global warming and the environment, stating that climate change is “absolute crap”. He absolutely told the truth about what his position on immigrants and asylum seekers were and made it clear he was going to treat refugees really inhumanely . He made his positions on these things really clear. He was pro-Christianity, anti-gay, anti-refugee and anti-environment. He delivered completely on those promises.
Which is why I said what I did. You can’t say you’re a friend to Mexicans if you vote for Trump. And you can’t say you’re a friend to the environment, the LGBT community or asylum seekers if you select the guy that says he’s going to crush them and then give them the power to do so. If you voted for the Tony party, you knowingly elected certain things – three more years without a hope of marriage equality, a massive setback to any progress that could be made on the climate front, increasing intolerance and worsening conditions for asylum seekers. Those are direct consequences of voting that way and I still can’t understand why anyone would claim to be sympathetic to these causes and elect a government so committed to crushing them.
It was suggested to me at the time that these causes weren’t the reason why people voted that way, though the reasons weren’t disclosed so I can only speculate (though if it had anything to do with improving the economy, a cheaper NBN, education reform, worker’s rights or healthcare, then I’m guessing we’re all disappointed). But here’s the thing – it’s a package deal. Shitting on gays, refugees and the environment comes with the vote and though there might have been other promises that were more important to you, saying you didn’t vote against these things sounds to me like “Oh I don’t smoke because it’s cancerous, I only smoke for the flavour”
I’ve worried a lot about publishing this because I don’t want to re-ignite any ill will from a good friend, and I do apologise if I’ve misrepresented or pissed him off. but as I look back on what has happened to Australia since 2013 I don’t think there’s any doubt that we took giant strides backwards for gay rights and climate change, and that we basically became internationally known human rights offenders for how badly we treated asylum seekers. There were hundreds of other fuckups too, and even the rest of the LNP ousted Tony for being both bad and bad at it – and those three little things he promised which might have seemed small to the people who voted for him have turned out to be a pretty big deal, things that have seen us devolve into a nasty and depressing nation.
I’m not going to tell anyone here how to vote in the upcoming election – there will be enough people doing that – but I will urge voters to actually look at policies. Because even though it’s suddenly cool for everyone on social media to claim that “all parties are the same” it’s just not the truth. It reminds me of when guys in high school used try and sound jaded and experienced by saying “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” about naked women’s bodies which you would only think if you have not even seen one. They really are different from each other – there’s only one party you can count on to challenge the rights and wages of the working class. There’s only one party with a policy against campaign donations. Some of the parties might overlap in places but they are most definitely not all the same, so your vote really does matter. And if a politician tells you that your energy bills might be cheaper and he’s going to unleash Cthulhu onto an unsuspecting world, think before you vote for the first bit because the second bit might be the promise he actually keeps.