Another election in Australia, another media circus. Despite the fact we can’t keep up with who the current prime minister is because they have this hilarious habit of usurping each other like some unsexy version of Game of Thrones, we now have to choose another one.
I know it’s my civic duty to care. To contribute to democracy. To make the world a better place for our children, which is even more relevant after giving birth to our daughter three weeks ago.
(N.B. I’m still not ready to write about motherhood. It’s like looking at the sun: I can’t look directly at it but I can look at everything it shines on, which at the moment is politics).
But I just can’t care.
I’m repelled by the pollies who parade on TV every night espousing their ideals.
There’s the super rich mining magnate who’s spent 50 million dollars on his advertising campaign and fancies himself as the Aussie Trump (he wants to make Australia Great again).
There’s Pauline Hanson who no-one took seriously until the last few years and now suddenly she has a following (back in the 90’s a drag queen comedian calling herself ‘Pauline Pantsdown’ released a hit single razzing all her political soundbites).
And then there’s the two major parties who sound like broken records bitching about why the others are secretly evil Communists who want to destroy the superannuation of pensioners.
In Torquay, the surfing town I live in south of Melbourne, there are huge billboards from local parties promising a 50 metre swimming pool. Someone wrote on a community group on Facebook:
‘2019 election! Refugee policy? Nah. Climate change? Nah. #stopadani ? No way! Has anyone noticed the big free swimming pool just a smidge east of the esplanade?’
Dad joked at least we’ll have a plethora of swimming pools to choose from after the election. Labour or Liberal pool today?
All the politicians sound like clanging cymbals and I don’t believe anything they say anymore.
Am I just a cynical Gen Y-er who’s more interested in Instagram and Married At First Sight? Or are these feelings across the board?
I was listening to a homily from Garrison Keillor, prolific broadcaster and writer, and something struck me: ‘praise the Lord for…the bureaucracies around us who strive to give us a more orderly world in which you and I are free to be eccentric and express our individuality.’
“The bureaucracies around us who strive to give us a more orderly world…”
Have I lost the big picture?
What is the purpose of politics?
As someone who’s passionate about language, I believe words can shift mountains.
When it comes to politics, it’s easy to be cynical. The way they talk, pre-written speeches full of promises and hackneyed values. All sounding the same.
Politicians are consumed by a glut of motivations: power and vanity being the most obvious.
But maybe it’s an even greater leap to believe, or hope, that underneath all the self-aggrandising and squabbling, there is a group of people who genuinely want to make our country, even the world, a better place.
As Keillor said, a more ordered place.
The purpose of politics as a whole is to bring order and improvement to society, no matter where anyone stands on the political spectrum.
I’m not going to pontificate about how lucky we are to live in a democracy, even though we are. People live and die fighting for it. This doesn’t void how annoying politicians within a democracy can be, but it’s worth remembering.
What a luxury to have ideals and the freedom to fight for them.
I look at my daughter and am overwhelmed with hope for her future. I don’t want her to be bogged down by cynicism but feel empowered that her decisions can echo into the future.
And perhaps that’s a better starting point. At least for now.