As far as political campaigns are concerned, the current election campaign is possibly the lamest on record. The media cannot move itself from the Presidential style projection of a leadership contest – in other words a choice between Gillard and Abbot as opposed to a choice between Labor and Liberal. However the voters are seeking to put some substance into the discussion, drilling down into the domain of policy and attempting to distill the policy differences between the two major parties. It was Goebells who said “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play”. The problem is, that none of the music we hear is up to orchestral standard. This campaign is about the political parties producing jingles in the form of commercials and not the symphonies that represent informative documentaries. It is about the whole ensemble and not just the lead singer.
Perhaps in Australia we used to oscilate between Governments every two to three terms. One party would save, the other would spend, and the pendulum would swing between the two depending on the fiscal wellbeing of the economy. However if we take an honest look at the campaign today it would appear that restraint is an ailment of the past. Both parties are committed to spending big, particularly on distributing taxpayer dollars to voting recipients in the perceived form of a handout.
Aside from dumming down the campaign and focussing on two relatively (and comparatively) uninspiring leadership options, there has been a lot of commentary to suggest that voter choice will be negatively focussed. We will be voting for the least undesirable party, as opposed to the most opportunity ahead of us. That hardly imbues confidence.
My own voter choice is grounded in the notion that politics is about balancing the economic equation and about wealth creation and distribution. I am less concerned by social policy, as much of this sits at the level of indivudual choice, to the exclusion of the nanny state. Most of the bigger policy discussions on items such as abortion, euthenasia, gay marriage etc are currently sitting within a balanced legislative framework and unlikely to be dramatically changed as a result of either party manifesto that is put in front of us this election.
I am less phased by the personal relgious or marital choices made by Julia Gillard, the colour of the speedos that Tony Abbott wears, or the personal shortcomings of any other candidate for office. When I visit a medical professional, financial professional or any other person who I trust or remunerate to make decisions that will impact me, I stop to evaluate their knowledge and expertise. Their marital status, sexual orientation or other private decisions do not impair my judgement, nor should they. Whilst understanding the stronger moral imperative that should be associated with public office, I see no reason to treat career politicians any differently when it comes to their private lives. The mudracking over personality attacks that have no bearing on competency for office is a vile form of media entertainment, and merely takes value out of the importance of good political choice.
When I have previously blogged about politics, I have mentioned that attitudes towards Israel amongst the mainstream political parties are on the whole bipartisan. Certainly, few Jewish voters determine their voting choice solely on the issue of foreign policy. In WA, with the exception of Melissa Parke in Fremantle, there are no Labor or Liberal candidates that are on record as being outrightly hostile towards the basic freedoms that Israel represents. However the Green’s policy towards Israel is something that is important to understand. It is a dangerous, disingenious, destructive, biased, and foolish manifesto that in effect, denies the right of Jewish people to national self determination. Many local voters can see the lack of realism within the Green’s social and economic policies, but are often unaware of the insideous impact that their foriegn policy platform represents. The Greens would see Australia’s control of its own destiny relinquished to the powers of global Government, into a system that does not tolerate western freedoms or values.
My greatest fear is that this election will deliver a split Labor-Liberal vote and that the balance of power will be held by the Greens. This party have already proven themselves to be unworthy kingmakers. It is with this in mind that I have determined to strategically cast a vote. I only hope that the electorate understands the old maxim “the voters get the Government they deserve” and understand the stragetic nature of voting.
So how does it work? Australian’s seem to be in sync when it comes to delivering the power of Federal Government to one party and the power of State Government to the Opposition. However at the Federal polling booth we are inclined to blindly follow How To Vote Cards without looking into the impact of assinging preferences. This election could be determined by the number of voters who offer their first preference vote to the Greens. Liberal candidates in particular should be reminding their electorates of this.
The other thing that we as voters tend to forget is that we have two houses of Parliament. They way to deliver a balanced outcome to this pole is for Liberal supporters to vote for their candidates in the lower house, but to resign themselves to the fact that it is better to have Labor control of the Senate, as opposed to a minor party kingmaker. Therefore everybody should vote en masse to deliver a Labor Senate and a Liberal Government. It not only provides a check and balance into an otherwise unfettered legislative system, but it also provides some stability and constraint during a volatile period when it is needed the most.
Most voters do not pause to consider the outcomes of a strategically split vote. It’s time to generate some creative awareness about our political system and use the power of our vote to marginalise the real threat within the current political environment, being the non-centralist parties.
So, even if you are a diehard Liberal voter who thinks Labor are a festering, gratuitous pile of self serving tribal hacks who deserve to be punished for displacing their leader before the public had the right to cast their verdict, my How To Vote Card still says give your senate vote to Labor. It’s the best opportunity we have for good Government in the next electoral term.