I haven’t been in a good mood since the election. I was sweating blood over a blog post. Then I read AC Griffiths’ lyrical defence of voting Liberal in the Sydney Morning Herald, and it took my breath away.
Thirty years ago, I remember, that was me. I only wish there’d been someone to give me some seasoned perspective when I was only three elections in. Sadly, neither the Herald nor the Guardian responded to my pitch, so my counter-argument — I think slapdown is a fair call — has to go here.
Ms Griffiths says she has always voted Liberal, and that she votes with her heart, for a party that will “do the right thing” on social issues (she gives examples of progressive legislation passed by conservative parties since federation), but which can still “lead a country through a challenging time economically”. She is understandably saddened by the anger directed at Liberal voters on social media, and the awful things she is accused of being and doing. But she is confident enough of her choice to defend it in a major newspaper.
Ms Griffiths – AC – here’s the problem. Your notion of what the Liberal Party is, and what its values are, is fiction. You’ve been misled by its name and the hidden ravages of conservative drift, by a faction within the party which has a purely patriarchalist agenda and no conscience, and by communications networks – media – run by people who work with the Liberal Party in general and that faction in particular to ensure that wealth and power are funnelled away from society at large to those who are already obscenely rich and/or powerful.
Wake up and pay attention.
If you’ve been called uneducated, it’s because you clearly don’t know stuff that, as a voting adult, you should. That’s not entirely your fault – for a country with compulsory voting, our civics education is lousy. But it’s up to each of us to remedy that. If you’ve been called scared, it’s because people do you the favour of assuming you lack the courage to vote for bold, pro-active solutions to urgent modern problems, rather than the intelligence.
Who actually manages the economy better?
Peek around the News Corp propaganda curtain and you will see something shocking: the Coalition are nowhere near as good at managing the economy as Labor. Since the 1980s, the Australian economy has risen in global rankings under Labor governments and fallen back under the Coalition. Perhaps Labor’s greater investment in social goods and services oils the entire national engine; however they do it, they do it lately in the teeth of a constant, clamorous Murdochratic headwind about a budget emergency.
An economy isn’t well-run unless it supports a well-run society, but well-run societies don’t deliver the biggest possible profits to the biggest investors. Some of these big investors are known to be greedy and difficult to control. A handful — miners, media, you know the names — exert significant control over the government of the day, and the Coalition is generally more co-operative. But when billionaires dictate the continued, even accelerated plunder of our increasingly threatened landscape or exert a baleful influence on our privacy laws, and when dodgy operators win unscrutinised contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to run offshore camps that keep innocent people in nightmarish conditions and no one can see where the money went and the government doesn’t want to hear about it and people die there in horrible ways, and when the planet is screaming for some action to clean up the mess and drop the temperatures and maybe if we’re lucky halt or at least slow the Sixth Great Extinction Event, which we are now well into — really, the bottom line is no longer just about money. Either way, that’s that justification gone.
Shouldn’t we also consider the environment?
I’m awfully sorry if I’m crashing your lovely life like an ice bucket challenge, but if you haven’t noticed there’s an actual apocalypse on the horizon, you’d better pull your charmingly-tousled head out of the sand. And if you have some hazy or faith-inspired notion that any approaching apocalypse will surely be divine, then you’d better take a closer look at this one.
This one is entirely man-made.
Last weekend, Australia, the Anglosphere, and indeed the world lurched another step toward it, as Australia committed to following the United States into the vortex of climate disaster, venomous political division, social and economic instability and impending collapse, increasingly brutal civic repression, the simultaneous breakdown of international trade systems and life-supporting ecosystems amid increasingly vicious hostilities over whatever remains, international chaos and the likely early and violent deaths of billions, along with ensuring that the global inheritance of any survivors of this horror scenario will be little more than a charred and poisoned landscape.
Nothing in this grim prognosis is beyond what is already in every recent warning – local, national and international – by experts in each field. You may find this information – often juxtaposed with something that ridicules it – in many places, in most newspapers. Lay your scepticism aside for a moment. Google climate change. Ignore all the denials and quibbles and deconstructions and counter-claims; let them come later. Give the genuine possibility full consideration: either we are wrecking the ecosystems we depend on, or we’re not. What do the scientists say?
I know, la-la-la, it’s all so dire.
The truth is, you didn’t vote Liberal because you understand and approve their policies. You voted Liberal because you imagine it’s what nice girls do – because the centre-right is more refined than the left, because blue is more elegant than red and “liberal” sounds free and self-defining while “labour” sounds gross. You voted for a brand, which the party and the media have allowed you to construct largely in your head, and which bears no relation to the actual ethics or policy platform of the entity behind it. And you argue that because more-or-less-conservative parties have passed key progressive legislation a handful of times since Federation that the present conservative government is neither repressive nor reactionary.
Your logic is as flawed as your political understanding.
Now you take a deep breath, and hear me out. The fear I’m experiencing is rational, evidence-based, and can’t be dispelled by reminiscing about simpler times. The Liberal Party since John Howard (yes, all the time you’ve been voting) is a very different beast from the parties that enacted certain pieces of socially progressive legislation in the twentieth century. Howard’s decision over gun legislation was made under enormous public pressure and was still far from a foregone conclusion, due to his party’s prima facie antipathy to such restrictions. Marriage equality was a concept whose time had long since arrived, and Malcolm Turnbull – who wanted to be an old-style, decent Liberal but was hamstrung by the hyper-conservative faction in his Cabinet – saw his chance to do something genuinely liberal even if it took a totally unnecessary, outrageously expensive and horribly divisive plebiscite to get it past the reactionaries in his party. Two pieces of socially progressive legislation among the hundreds passed by the last four conservative prime ministers does not indicate a party that will “do the right thing” on social issues… particularly in light of the current government’s actual record.
Something about “doing the right thing”
If you’ve been called a bigot, it was likely by someone devastated by grief because they have direct links to some of the hundreds of men, women and little children literally rotting in oblivion in our remote gulags. When I say our detainees have inadequate food, inadequate security and grossly inadequate medical care, it’s not hyperbole. These are cold hard facts you can check for yourself. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so go to the source: talk to the refugees on social media, or to advocates like the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Watch Chauka Please Tell Us the Time on Vimeo. When your eyes are opened, ask yourself if a government that has aggressively persecuted people legitimately seeking sanctuary here (it was Morrison, as immigration minister, who directed that they be referred to as “illegals” despite it being perfectly legal to seek asylum), a government which pays more to keep brown people in conditions Amnesty calls “akin to torture” than it costs to host them in the community, a government that has repeatedly gone to court to stop doctors insisting on bringing gravely ill children to Australia for proper medical treatment — ask yourself if that government really isn’t bigoted.
If the asylum seekers were white and Christian their easy assimilation would be assumed, even though only three quarters of Australians are white and barely more than half are Christian.
Don’t get me started on the “Judeo-Christian family values” faction, AKA the patriarchalists. Some of these men are monsters indeed — your sweetly fervent wish to assume otherwise notwithstanding. As for whether they’re truly Australia’s choice for another term of government — well, not resoundingly. Although the final result of the preference flows is an increased majority for the government, the actual voting pattern shows widening division across the political spectrum and a decreased primary vote for the Liberals. Meanwhile the World Economic Forum is predicting recession and the papers are telling our Pentecostal PM he’s the Messiah. The next couple of years are going to be increasingly difficult for all of us — even our obscenely fortunate Prime Minister.
AC, it boils down to this. If you don’t like being called scared, uneducated, bigoted, shameful, ignorant about climate change, anti-feminist, homophobic, minority-hating, anti-reproductive choice, and all the other things you mentioned — don’t vote for the party with a record of cowardly, bigoted, shameful, ecologically destructive, anti-feminist, and homophobic policies. You’re a grown-up now: do some proper research.
Note: this post has been updated to reflect a shift in the vote count since it was written.
5 thoughts on “Why I voted Greens/Labor – a reply to AC Griffiths ”
Thank you, that woman infuriated me. I shared her stupid argument with a post on some points on the shameful record of this government. Some of the ministers should be prosecuted for corruption over the management of the Great Barrier Reef and the Murray Darling, Morrison and Dutton should be tried for crimes against humanity. I bear no responsibility for the great misfortune that will befall those who voted for them. Instead I wish I could make them fix, as payback for their stupidity and recklessness, the environmental disaster looming for our children.
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Exactly. And the saddest, most fraught part of all this is that the more we express righteous anger, the more they dig their heels in, feeling their own sense of righteousness threatened, their conviction insulted. There just isn’t enough tact in the world to avert what’s coming. All we can do is mitigate and repair as we go.
Sanaa, give us a link to your post?
Thanks for writing this you have encapsulated my thoughts, my anger & my dread for what is coming….
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Thanks for reading – feel free to share the link. And yes – it seems we may be fated to live through (or at least into 😕) the very worst times humanity has yet seen. When the dust settles, if there’s anything left at all, humankind and its future will be defined by how we endured – by what we did to survive and what we became in the process. So it’s up to each of us to keep building networks of love, patience, humour and wisdom wherever we can.