Story by Emmjay
I watched an American Ted Talk yesterday where the chap was arguing something along the lines of “OK we’ve seen what the protest vote gets the world (Trump that is), fair enough, people have a right to be pissed off – and a right to send a message to conventional politicians that business as usual is no longer an option.”
He then went on to propose something particularly non-novel – namely direct action at a local level.
Well, OK to that, but so far direct action has had a pretty spotty track record. How long did it take for the Moratorium movement to reverse the politics of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War ? No discernible progress on renewable energy or climate change or preventative health care.
I think that democracy is the right way to go, but not many allegedly democratic nations seem to be much good at ensuring that every person has a say and then deciding what parts of that “say” are worthy of enactment.
More importantly, a constituency where the uninformed or even plain stupid “will of the citizens” gets turned into policy that drives legislation or regulations simply (and only) because fuckwits have the numbers, is not good enough in my book.
When we see and hear politicians say that their views are accurately reflecting the will of their constituency, I say that they are not doing the whole job.
They should be able to reflect a considered view of their constituencies and then, in cases where that view is retrograde, they have a responsibility to propose better policies and then convince their electorates to support that.
But it’s a loaded deck, isn’t it ?
Simple-minded preferences by the proletariat have been demonstrably influenced by super powerful narrow sectional interests – not mentioning:
- media moguls,
- carbon energy tycoons,
- food industry power groups,
- big pharma,
- the military industrial complex
- the national and international banking industry
- real estate moguls
- big retailers
- mining industries
- water resources owners
- major political parties
- tax avoiders anonymous
- And probably many more self interest cabals.
The fact that a clearly evil and unworthy emperor can become elected as the next head of the western world – with the approval of Russia – if not China and the rest of the west – proves the point.
Decent Republicans (if that’s not an oxymoron) reportedly voted for Hillary Clinton – their mortal political foe – as a least-worst option to no avail. And we have seen the pattern repeated here in Australia. Despite being completely unknown outside of Queensland, Rudd massacred Howard – because the electorate disapproved so strongly of Howard that (as Bill Hayden was famously quoted) “A drover’s dog could have defeated Howard. But when the ALP – if not the rest of the country tired of Rudd’s control-freak ways and random policy walk, Australia was presented with a new PM and we had the privilege of watching internecine warfare destabilising what now appears to have been a relatively good Gillard government by contemporary standards. So our least worst option was to elect Tony Abbott despite his pig ignorant character, his 1950s misogyny, his climate change denialism and his cringe-worthy representation of Australia on the world stage.
Being not complete fools, the Libnats decided to punt Tony before the election and gave us the opportunity to support the popular Malcolm Turnbull. He was popular because he stood for the kind of conservatism that Australia traditionally likes – to cast fear and doubt about the ALP’s ability to manage an economy financially (despite Rudd’s undeniable success during the worst of the Global Financial Meltdown (GFM), and carry on with the “be nice and do nothing” kind of conservative approach to government.
Australians by and large aspire to some kind of fairness ethic and when the matter came to same sex marriage, Malcolm showed his true colours – colour me shit scared of the loony right wing faction – and the simplest, least earth-shattering change to marriage law was dropped unceremoniously into the “too hard” basket after an eternity of round the houses debates about plebiscites and free votes.
This is an interesting contradiction to my earlier point that democratically elected representatives ought do more than merely reflect the imagined will of their constituency – they should lead our society. In the case of same sex marriage issue, the Libnats actually led us back to the 1950s . It’s surprising that they didn’t recriminalise homosexuality. And the ever-worthy ALP sat there, amused by the Libnats’ self-torture added a big fat zero to the table.
Australia played it safe again – by electing a government not on predisposed to do sweet fuck all, but a government barely qualified to act on it’s disposition.
When I reflect on how Howard wasted more than a decade of Australian history, it’s astonishing that his complete lack of effort has been so overwhelmingly eclipsed by Rudd-Gillard-Rudd, Abbot, Turnbull, Turnbull, that total fuckwits now control the senate and the passing of legislation and regulation – even ideologically based and ethically wrong and criminal work like the cruel maltreatment of refugees, the repeated disenfranchisement of the poor, infirm and disabled from welfare – slips through parliament like a turd through a sewer pipe.
So how do we abandon the habit of picking the least worst governments ?
I think this is at least a two-step process.
First, we cannot accept a rotating front door to the leadership of Australian and state (and local) government bureaucracies. After all, the government – only makes the laws. It’s the various levels of public service that implement them. When Fraser sacked virtually all the heads of federal departments along imagined as well as real ideological grounds – and then let middle order management atrophy, he did Australia no service by setting a precedent for every government following – of both political persuasions. Australia has ended up with government by a public service characterised by top enders who must at least appear to be sympathetic with the government politicians of the day (no matter how loony and incompetent these politicians may be) supported by junior staffers who lack the experience of knowing when a bad policy will inevitably lead to disaster for the departments and possibly for the government as a whole. So I am advocating senior bureaucrats be selected on demonstrable merit by independent judges and that they enjoy the Westminster privilege of secure employment based on providing their ministers with frank and fearless advice.
The second plank in my platform is to advocate that we as Australians stop voting for parties that reflect a broad support for our individual ideological bents, particularly when the preselected (now there’s a topic to launch on !) representatives are clearly party toadies and / or unworthy of our support. Remember how Cheryl Kernot was far more effective as a Democrat than when she was later massacred by the electorate as a Labor stooge. Maxine McHugh ? Peter Garrett ?
I for one would prefer to vote for a person who showed commitment to the special needs not just of my electorate, but the current and future needs of our country. It’s our job to seek these people out. And to flush out the pond scum that so frequently graces our houses of parliament.
Off you go, then. Them’s your riding intructions for 2017.