More numb and more dumb

I wanted to call this post “number and dumber”, but to my great frustration,  I just saw digits after I’d typed “number” into the title feed  And I was already frustrated because I was about to  eke out an election comment – this is supposed to be a political site after all, so we should be able to say something.   But I’m not interested in the election!  I don’t care who wins.

A woman came knocking on my front door a week or so.   She wanted me to vote for the ALP.   I told her that I’d be voting informally because I have no desire to vote for either, and that even if I happened to support one of the minor parties,  I knew that by the end of the count,  my vote would end up with one of the major parties, due  to the  fact that the electoral act defines a   formal vote as one in which the voter indicates a “preference” for every candidate on the list.

The woman at the door just looked at me and said “but it will be horrendous if Tony Abbot wins”.   Apparently,  I was supposed to vote Labor in order to do my bit in the fight against the forces of darkness or something.   She didn’t even attempt to give me any positive reason for voting Labor.  The only other thing she  mentioned was that the candidate is  a very nice woman – cares about the community, has an “open door”, and so on.

I just read an article  by Bernard Keane in Crikey which described  the mind numbing meaninglessness of  current Australian electoral politics:

“So, how have you enjoyed the show?

Not a lot, judging by the level of profound disengagement of voters toward this election, and the fact that on election eve the polls are locked up tight, as if we can’t work which side we dislike less.

But too bad, we’re paying for it anyway. Attendance is compulsory — fortunately for the major parties, because otherwise we’d be looking at an historically low turnout.

And no matter how much you dislike it, the major parties end up with your money, courtesy of public political funding, and your vote, courtesy of compulsory preferential voting. Remember the last bloke who tried to encourage voters to evade preferencing was put in gaol. That’s how seriously Labor and the Coalition take this elaborate, publicly-funded pantomime. There’s no escape.

The media’s been doing its bit to keep the show going, but it, better than the party apparatchiks and political tragics, can see the disengagement, the lack of interest, the plain tedium, in the eyes of the audience. So, like any performers, they’ve instinctively hammed it up.

The great Press Gallery tradition of thinking you’re a player, not just an observer, is in rude health, and luckily we now have social media to see the egos at play. “Tweet tweet tweet,” as Julia Gillard said yesterday, the sort of cold, dead-on line that she should have been using far more often over the last five weeks.

Even the actual voters with a walk-on role have disappointed. Not since George Romero subtly set a zombie film in a shopping mall has brain-dead consumerism got such an elaborate outing as we saw in News Ltd’s “community forum” events. They were plugged by the conservatariat as “real” political events (in opposition to debates, interviews, and other self-pleasurings of the chattering classes), but they only served as a pointed highlight of how both electoral tactics and, one suspects, simple intellectual torpor, meant both parties ignored 80% of Australians in favour of voters in outer western Sydney and regional Queensland.”

Note that “the last bloke who tried to encourage voters to evade preferencing (and) was put in gaol” was Albert Langer  (who has renamed himself Arthur Dent) and is a frequent contributor to this blog.   Arthur is one of those very few left wingers who  supported the  war in Iraq.  This was another case of standing up for democracy.

Democracy is always worth fighting for.   And that includes “bourgeois democracy”.   Our predecessors  fought for it and won.

The situation now is that the political class must have “permission” to rule.   It’s true that we have a forced choice between the ALP and the Liberals (in the House of Reps) but that’s because we ( or most of us) acquiesce It’s not that we don’t *have* democracy in Australia ,   it’s that we don’t  exercise it.


Douglas Adams put it pretty well :

On (this) world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”

“Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”

“I did,” said ford. “It is.”

“So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?”

“It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”

“You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”                      Dent2 png

“Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”

“But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”

“Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”

1 Response to “More numb and more dumb”

  1. 1 Dalec

    Kerry, I too was lazing about my penthouse suite where I was accosted by this unfortunate political hack who asked me to vote.
    “OOh noo I said we kill lots of Iraqis so that their fellows can vote but we are not interested in elections”.

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