I don’t know exactly how you’d describe my political leanings, other than to say they’re definitely on the left. And as the years have gone on, they’ve become more left leaning. I’m more of a green supporter these days than a labor supporter, for instance.
I have to say – it annoys the hell out of me that I’ve become a green supporter. I’m too progressive for my own country, it seems. I want equal rights, I want to throw away the notion of two levels of social classes (well why wouldn’t I? I’m a second class citizen…), and I want to see us act humanely towards asylum seekers, just to scratch the surface.
Growing up, the Labor party of Australia, particularly under people like Whitlam, Hawke and Keating, seemed – from my admittedly younger views of the world – to at least embody the hope of achieving these sorts of things. They weren’t perfect by any means, but they seemed to offer a clear and different alternative. The difference between Labor and Liberal policies looked like this:
There was, it seemed, a clear and strong difference between the policies of the two parties. Much as they did invariably steal policy ideas from each other even back then, there were core social welfare and progress ideals that radically differed. But that all ended at the time Keating lost to Howard. “Lazarus with a triple bypass” Howard, or “Honest John”, the most dishonest nickname for a politician ever devised, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When Keating lost, and Labor floundered for a decade or more, it turned increasingly to focus groups and “me tooism”, giving up on the notion of espousing a different view. Their policies increasingly became “We can do that too, but better”.
Same same but different.
So now, the policies look like this:
Realistically, there’s now bugger all difference between the two parties. It’s so “same same but different” that we just assume any “different” policy espoused by Labor will end up being demolished if the leader of the Liberal party vehemently disagrees with it. That’s why you end up with an atheist prime minister who refuses to get married defending the sanctity of marriage against same sex relationships while talking about “traditional” values – not seeing the irony that those “traditional” values she’s defending would define her as being promiscuous for being in her unwedded relationship. That’s how you end up with a lesbian senior minister in the government insisting that it’s appropriate homosexuals remain second class citizens within society.
It’s what happens when a party’s policies are decided by pollsters and focus groups that probe the depths of bogan attitudes.
Politics should by all means follow the general will of the population – that’s what they’re elected for. But they should also nobly show a better way.
Labor hasn’t done this for years. And until they do, I’ll remain one of those disillusioned Labor voters who turns consistently to the Greens – because at least they give a shit, and they’re willing to say it.