Poll-arisation

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I need to write about the election. I watched every minute of the coverage on the ABC, and couldn’t believe what I heard. The Coalition Government have been returned a fourth term. There were two sides of me that came out last night. First, there was the passionate lefty, the other was the political nerd.

The passionate lefty has now renounced democracy, in sheer and utter disbelief and despair that the Australian government was now going to be controlled by not only the Coalition, but the absolute nut-jobs “Family First”. Somehow, the Liberal government managed to convince the mullet majority that their interest rates would go up under Labor. Somehow, despite mass hatred of John Howard, he was returned in not just a majority, but a landslide. What the hell is WRONG with this country? Passionate lefty has wondered why the hell she even bothers studying politics, becoming an ‘expert’, only to have all the policy ideas she believes in pissed on by the great unwashed. Passionate lefty is angry. And scared.

The political nerd saw this as an election that has significant implications. First of all, it seems that Australia is divided. There is a massive conservative-Christian backlash akin to the bible-belt-loonies in America, and there is a massive left-wing gay-right pro-choice anti-conservative backlash as well. The Democrats have split into their rightful places: the left went to the Greens and the pseudo-Libs went back to the Liberals. The ALP has suffered a horrible fate from this polarisation: the disenfranchised ALP Left voters have voted Green; the economically and socailly conservative Catholic voters have gone to the Liberals — leaving a middle ground that is not strong enough to win government. This is an election where voters have rallied behind the ideological extremes, depending on which fence you sat on during the war, gay marriage, USFTA debates. And, for political nerd, this is both interesting and terrifying. Because I can see the damage that is about to be done when the Bible loonies walk into parliament.

And then I remember my Australian politics unit in my 2nd year of my Politics degree, where we did some analysis of voter education in Australia. We were told that only 6% knew the Australian Constitution even existed, and that the majority of people don’t even know the difference between the two houses of parliament (yes, folks, there were two — you know, accountability??). And get this: over 75% of Australians get their political information from commercial television. In that class, we were effectively told that people are political imbeciles — they don’t know or understand the implications of their voting behaviour — and Aristotle’s “tyranny of the majority” seemed to ring true. But I rejected that idea. I refused to believe that people were that gullible — that the majority of people were decent, intelligent and cared about their democratic responsibility. I also underplayed the impact of negative advertising.

And I was wrong.

Australia, WAKE UP. You are a bunch of idiots and you deserve EVERYTHING you get from this idiot government. I am going to continue fighting the good fight because I ddn’t vote for them. But for every one of you who did, I hope you rot in the system that has been created by your apathy. I will criticise the government at every turn — I have that right because I didn’t vote for them. But I will no longer represent any of your interests because you’ll only spit in my face, ignore that advice of people that know better and return the government that has gone out of its way to divide this country to the point that people are now polarised in their votes. Not only that, they’ll swallow any old shit that the Liberals can throw at them. It seems like you want more, so you got it.

So, there you go. I am no longer going to defend the mullets, the workers, the small business owners, the poor. Because you all swallowed Howard’s bullshit and now, you deserve everything you get.

From now on I am an elitist. I represent the interests of University students, teachers, academics, sociologists, social workers, lawyers and any of the above who actually did vote Green or ALP.

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