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Australia had an election, and here is Hitler's reaction to it.



It's a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the election, really, though it does neglect to mention that the outcome of it has been quite interesting, mostly due to the impression that three country independents are making during their interviews.

Now, up front, I should mention that I did not vote in this election. It gets people all riled up to hear that. Some of you are about ready to tell me that I can't have an opinion on politics now, another bunch are about ready to tell me about the poor people who are dying because they can't vote, or live in countries where violence forces them to vote one way or another. The last is an interesting statement, since it suggests that just being able to vote is something I should be grateful for--and while I do, indeed, believe that the people living under tyrannical governments should have the right to vote, I also believe that that neither solves their problems, nor makes it somehow easier to live in poor countries. But they should have the right. What the statement does overlook, however, is that I live in a country that does not have those issues, thankfully, but has other issues. The choice not to vote is done in mind of where I live, and the issues I see myself in my home, and is not done to spite people, and not because Mark Latham, the ex-Labor leader, suggests that people vote informally. That was always a statement forever doomed to sound bitter, regardless of his intent. It also hurt any real debate the country could have had about not voting.

These issues of democracy in Australia begin with the very simple belief that the choice to vote also involves the choice not to vote. Democracy cuts both ways, a concept that many people fail to recognise and respect, I find. It is in fact a terrible thing to force people who have different political ideals and beliefs to interact with yours, but we do it here, and tell them that they ought to be grateful for the chance. My problems with the Australian democracy then continue on through to the preference system and to our lack of choice over who is actually our Prime Minister (a choice that is always made in back room promises and deals). It continues on, but it's not my intent to list it all because, to be honest, I am content in my choice, and my decision not to vote has been a long standing one. Every election that arrives sees, in fact, my decision reinforced, as endless campaign ads offer nothing in information, and instead spend millions abusing the other party; as racism and homophobia run rampant; as I watch non-white politicians and openly gay politicians agree with their insulting party lines, thus sacrificing their own beliefs; and as easily identifiable broken promises are made, with everyone fully understanding that the motion would never get through the senate, but which are discussed like it could happen. Perhaps the most obvious in this campaign was the one Labor made about censoring the internet.

But something interesting has happened in this election, a event that has actually made me feel a slight twinge of regret for not voting, though admittedly, it hasn't been much. That moment has come, however, from the spotlight shone onto the three country independents, who either the Coalition or Labor are going to need should they wish to form a government. Those three, if you don't know them, are Tony Windosor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott. Like me, you probably don't know much about them, but I have liked how they've presented themselves in the interviews, and more importantly, I've liked how they have spoken about the stability of the country. Now, I'm not saying I agree with their politics--most likely, I won't. Bob Katter appears to be anti-gay and racist, but that's just a lift out of the links I've provided, and I'm sure a lot of what concerns him in rural Australia isn't what concerns me. But there's no denying that they have appeared in the media as down to earth, passionate men who present themselves much differently those in the larger parties, and who have stated quite simply the importance of stable government and the impression they hope to leave for independent politics. No matter what their beliefs, or what happens, the three appear to recognise the chance they have been given, and are going about it in a fashion that may result in a changed political landscape.

Of course, should I get too caught up with rainbows, I only need to remind myself of the past political ties of the men. Though there is, regardless of who you are, some amusement to be taken from Tony Windsor calling Barnaby Joyce a fool within five minutes of being put on the television.

At any rate, it's interesting stuff.

Comments

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exp_err
Aug. 23rd, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
Why I support compulsory voting:
If everyone votes, politicians have to try to represent everyone, or at least a genuine majority. If they are not representing a substantial fraction, there's a niche that another politician can fill, to harvest those votes.

If a minority votes, politicians only have to consider that minority - and that minority is likely to be privileged and ever-shrinking.

Say, for example, you have two politicians, A and B. 60% think "neither A nor B represent me". With option voting, that 60% don't vote, and become irrelevant to A and B. With compulsory voting, there's an incentive for A and B to shift their position to grab these likely easily swayed votes - so that 60% becomes at least somewhat better represented. And if neither A nor B shift, then C can step in, represent that 60%, and get those votes. If the 60% have already stopped voting and stopped listening when C arrives, C not only has to convince people that C is representing them better than A or B, but also that it is worth listening and voting at all.
benpeek
Aug. 23rd, 2010 03:37 am (UTC)
i would say that's exactly what's happening now, however. politicians do no represent a majority, just a vocal minority--and that is a privileged group, though i wouldn't say it was ever shrinking. i'd say it was linked to big business. and given our preference system, there's a whole lot of people who refuse to vote for option c, because they believe they'll just be voting for a or b anyhow (and that in itself is not an unreasonable belief).

in theory, yeah, it would be nice if it worked the way you said, but i don't see it. i do, however, view that the ability not to vote would actually inspire politics to look at those pockets who don't vote, and force them to represent them. of course, i'm just saying that non-voting would do what you reckon compulsory should do, so it's much of a much, really.
exp_err
Aug. 23rd, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
I think without preferential voting (unless we went to proportional voting), there would be many more who would refuse to vote for C, even if C was a better fit. I'd have trouble bringing myself to vote for a minority candidate in a first-past-the-post system, for instance, as it would very likely be a wasted vote. Unless A and B were absolutely indistinguishable, which ime, they never are.
benpeek
Aug. 23rd, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
see, i don't see that as a wasted vote. i see it simply as a vote. the person didn't get in, but you still voted, and it was still used. to my mind, there's not a whole lot wasted in that, but to each their own, huh?
benpayne
Aug. 25th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
Preferential voting works for me, in that just because I may be dissatisfied by the two major parties, doesn't mean I don't think one is worse than the other. So if I want to lodge a protest vote, of sorts, for the Greens, I can do so knowing that if they don't get in, my vote still counts against the Coalition.

I would be much much much less likely to vote outside the two major parties if we didn't have preferential voting. So it seems to me that preferential voting works, generally, in favour of minor parties.

But I can see an argument, from Ben's point of view, that there should be an option to check "no preference" whereby if the person you vote for doesn't make it to the top two, your vote is effectively discounted rather than going to another candidate.
catsparx
Aug. 23rd, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
voting is not compulsory. Turning up to a polling booth, getting your name crossed off, taking 2 papers, going into the little privacy booth and putting those papers into separate boxes is compulsory. Whatever marks you do or don't make on those papers is entirely your own business. But I'll shut up now cos I know you already know my views.
drjon
Aug. 23rd, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC)
The phrase "Don't vote: It only encourages them" is a remarkably Australian sentiment.

Also, informal voting is also a kind of vote, and done intentionally it makes a statement just as much as voting for one of the "approved candidates".
lyndarama
Aug. 24th, 2010 03:55 am (UTC)
I agree: my mum counts votes and had to count the many, many informal votes that occurred this year.

Did you sign your name off and collect the papers Ben, or just not turn up? Cos the first covers your arse legally, and the second makes the biggest statement (and then I guess so does not paying a fine)

Once upon a time the suffragettes fought very hard and long for women to get the vote, so I vote and having considered the options carefully. But if you don't want to, I think that's your business. (Altho I am commenting on it as you have made a blog about it)
benpeek
Aug. 25th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
actually, i don't do either. i've never enrolled (which, back in the day was a bit of a fight with the election officials, but now isn't much of anything). but if i was, i think i'd just cop the fine. not that it matters, i suppose, cause i am currently cheaping out nd avoiding that.
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