Is this the toughest election in history to get excited about, or what? It’s been lacking in defined policies and been brimful of watered-down, negatively-defined, wavering visions on both sides. It’s flaccid soup. And I haven’t been able to find the chunky bits!
A few thoughts before I head to the ballot box tomorrow.
I’m choosing to find the heartening and true path in it all…because I believe there is one, under the spin and limp performances:
* This flaccid soup has meant the Greens have emerged as a viable third option – a sturdy crouton, if you like – for the first time in history, in the running to control the Senate and get their first member in the House of Representatives. They have a clear, unwavering vision that something can stick to. They are an injection of kind (their income tax changes, for example), a reminder of where we all REALLY want to be. It’s going to be a good injection to have in the mix, no matter whether you agree with all their policies….keeping the bastard’s honest and all that. I’m glad they’ll be around.
* Despite the fact that whenever there is a dire absence of substance we resort to a personality contest, we haven’t in this case. Because both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott left theirs at the starting gate. This rather breaks my heart to watch. They’ve been stage-managed within an inch of their lives. And they both got too far down this corralled path to be able to get true in time for tomorrow’s ballot. I get the sense they wanted to. But exhaustion and micro-management has prevented it.
Both leaders have also been operating too close to the screen. They’ve been sitting in the front row and wondering why they’re missing the plot.
Have you ever been in that position…where you have so many people telling you what to do, and so many competing factors are up close in your face, that YOU get lost in the pulling and tugging?
IMO – this personality vacuum has worked to Abbott’s advantage. He is a foot waiting to land in a mouth, on the verge of inappropriateness at any moment. Having met the guy, I take him as a nice guy, in a George W Bush way….replete with W’s gaff-prone-ness.
I think that once the campaign is over and whichever leader is victorious can step back a few rows, the personality and true colours will return.
* Have you been wondering where the leadership is in this campaign? I think it will come once everyone turns around and faces the right way. This election is unusual for so many reasons (two leaders fresh to the gig etc), but in particular for it being the first to be dominated by the chatterings of social media. This is not the only cause, but it’s certainly added to this: neither Gillard or Abbott have been showing leadership. They’ve been turning back and deferring to raw, knee-jerk, fear-defined public opinion. Which is wrong. They’re facing the wrong way!
Leaders are meant to lead. To stand in front and define the path on behalf of us all.
They don’t turn around and ask us where they should be heading. Cos often we don’t really know what we want until we’re taken there with a bold, anchored, solid vision. Throughout history, humans have needed and wanted leaders. We don’t want to be left to our own selfish devices. We entrust leaders with making decisions on our behalf that take us beyond our selfish pursuits. We’d eat each other to death if we didn’t have spiritual guides or governments etc that instill parameters to our selfishness, who introduce morays and manners and charitable gestures.
Turn around and ask us all if we’d like more people from foreign lands who are going to require expensive welfare to get by to muscle in on our crowded cities, we’ll likely say no. Face forward and ask everyone who’s following you if they want to live in a country with kind, open-armed values, we say yes.
I hope that once armed with a mandate, the winning party will march forward, facing the right direction.
So, this is how I’ll be voting:
* I’m trusting my ability to see through the spin and the performance and the weird policy stands (ie Gillard on gay marriage, Abbott letting Work Choices drop)…and to see through to the true person. To their authenticity. Because it’s there. Their intentions are all on display, under the layers of soupiness. I’m going to cast aside alot of the “talking”, including the policy details…cos there’s little differentiating the two parties any way, apart from the mining tax and broadband.On this basis, I go with Julia as preferred leader. I can see someone who has a sturdy energy and principles that are anchored in fairness and bringing up the rear. Even if I have to base this on my own gut reading.
* Ditto with the Labor party. We don’t have a Presidential system, so ultimately we are meant to be voting for the local member who best represents our interests. And, broadly, for the party that aligns with our values. For me, the flavour of Labor is more aligned with my fundamental values – both economically and socially. The party has a rich history that has been about moving us all forward together – not leaving the not-so-fortunate behind. It makes the cake. But also makes sure we all get a slice of it.
* I’m bearing in mind this: Gillard has a very solid reputation in the Labor party as someone who gets things done and is clear of vision. Every journalist I’ve ever spoken to about Gillard says prior to this flaccid election run-up, she was one of the most impressive politicians they’d encountered. And that she was born leadership material. Sadly: she was thrust into an election campaign before she could find her feet with the leadership change. She hit the ground tripping. And never found her feet. She hasn’t had time or space to sit back and regain her authenticity. To take a breath and go, “what the hell am I doing?”. To have a quiet day to be able to come home to herself, regroup, refocus and head back out grounded in herself.
I have faith that she’ll be able to do this with some space, away from this crazy election run-up.
* Given broadband and the mining tax are the two main policies that distinguish the two main parties, I have to say Labor gets my vote again. The Labor broadband scheme is infinitely upgradeable to allow Australia to apply all and any of the super-fast applications the technological future may hold. Which, as SHM wrote: “In effect this would cancel our traditional geographic disadvantage, the tyranny of distance.” We can’t be left behind with this. I think we all sense that. How embarassing if in ten years time we’re the only Western nation with a flimsy service? This is actually the only moment in Big Picture Thinking I’ve seen in this election. The mining tax – I can’t pretend to understand the full extent of the debates back and forth on this, but my sense is that Gillard’s newer version is rather accepted as workable. There was some conjecture. But it died off.
* I’m also asking, can I imagine Tony Abbott on the world stage? He has a problem standing on one, for starters. But the answer broadly is, no. I mean, a guy who boasts he’s going to stay up all night??!! I defer to my George W Bush comments above. I wouldn’t be proud.
* And I put this contentious statement out there: in the absence of any other factor to sway me passionately either way, I feel a vote for Gillard/Labor is a vote for seeing this country have a female Prime Minister legitimately. If Gillard is not voted in, she goes down as a failed experiment. It will be decades before we have the opportunity again to see such an incredible shift in a nation’s identity. A female Prime Minister. Are you not at least curious? I am, and I think we’d all benefit from the symbolism of it. It fits our identity as a nation right now.
As Rhys Muldoon put it in yesterday’s SMH:
(In this election),”voters are punters and this country is an economy, not a society.”
This is exactly where things got to this election. It’s wonderfully put. I pray heart comes back to the political process. And we stop having leader debates in poker-machine ridden footy clubs.
Happy voting! And feel free to disgree with me passionately on any of the above!
PS. Here’s a little electorate map, so you can see whether your seat is in contentions, which way it could swing, what part your vote will play.