Tag Archives: politics

Every (Modern) Political Campaign Ever

Photo by Flickr user Derek Tam

Photo by Flickr user Derek Tam

“My friends, if we do This One Thing, it will lead us all to a better future.! Vote for our party and we’ll make sure This One Thing gets done. This One Thing is more important than the relative morality of any individual in our party, so don’t be distracted by anything the other party may tell you. Simply vote for This One Thing!”

“The other party is morally bankrupt! Even they know it!  This one time, one of them lied, and I’m going to remind you of it every time I speak to you! If we let them do This One Thing, our way of life will be destroyed! Every time the other party gets elected, they change our great nation, and everyone knows that change is bad. In fact, change is so bad that we should immediately go back to the way things were fifty years ago! NATIONALISM!” 

“Things were much worse for over half our people fifty years ago; everyone knows that. But we can make the future even brighter than the present if we do This One Thing. Everyone will benefit. Fairness! Equality! Hope! Trade! Globalisation! Diversity!”

“FEAR! Fear the unknown! Fear the outsider! This One Thing will destroy our economy and make you poor and miserable! Foreigners will take your jobs and change the law so YOU are the persecuted outsiders! If you vote for This One Thing, our great nation will be destroyed! DESTROYED!”

“Uh… Actually, twenty-seven economists have said that This One Thing will improve the nation’s economy and create jobs. And 95% of health professionals say that This One Thing will increase the health, happiness and wellbeing of our most underprivileged citizens. Also, here’s several dozen research papers proving that diversity strengthens a nation.”

“This One Thing will destroy our national identity! You won’t be allowed to do the thing you’ve always done! FEAR! HATRED! FLAGS! LOOK AT MY FLAGS! SO MANY FLAGS! The great people of this nation are sick of ‘experts’ telling them what to think. They’re sick of ‘facts’ being paraded in front of them, making them feel stupid. The people of this great nation know that This One Thing will destroy their way of life, and they don’t need your educated puppet-masters pulling their strings. TERRORISM! TERRORISM! TERRORISM!”

“Hang on, This One Thing has nothing to do with terrorism. But, if we must talk about it, I suppose This One Thing will probably help prevent terrorism. Remember: The only positive way forward for our nation is to vote for This One Thing. Even my cute puppy agrees!”

“The other party doesn’t even know what This One Thing will do to our great nation! First they say This One Thing has nothing to do with terrorism., then they say This One Thing will stop terrorism. Well, which is it? That’s proof that  you can’t believe anything they say. Also…. THAT’S NOT EVEN REALLY THEIR PUPPY! SHOCK! HORROR! SCANDAL!”

“Look, forget about the puppy. It belongs to a friend of ours, and we thought it would be cute. It’s really not important. The important thing is This One Thing. We trust that people will understand that This One Thing will have vast economic, social justice, health, education, fairy, and unicorn benefits for all of us. Vote for This One Thing!”

“This One Thing will destroy us all! FEAR! HATRED! TERRORISM! NATIONALISM! PUPPIES! FREEEEEDOOOOOOM!”

“Well, I know who I’m voting for. That first party made some good points, but you can’t trust somebody involved in a puppy scandal. Also, they lied that one other time. If it’s a close election it will send a clear message to both parties.Besides, everyone knows that one vote doesn’t make a difference.”


I didn’t originally plan to write this post today. Nor did I plan to publish a day earlier than usual. But the #brexit result has left me shaken, anxious and bewildered. I’d never even entertained the notion that the ‘Leave’ campaign may be successful. And yet, here we are, global markets in freefall as the UKIP celebrates their groundless, fear-based campaign triumphing over logic, facts, and common sense. All of a sudden, I feel a deep unease about both the upcoming Australian election and the prospect of Trumpageddon. Perhaps fear will triumph over facts after all. The thought is terrifying.


#allvotesmatter

 

 

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An Extra $15.80 per Week

Money

This week the Australian Fair Work Commission decided on the increase to Australia’s minimum wage. After much debate and to-ing and fro-ing, the figure arrived at was $15.80 per week.

This means that those Australians earning minimum wage (all 1.5 million of them) are due a payrise. Yay!

But it’s only fifteen bucks a week. Boo!

Or… yay?

Depends who you ask.

According to various business-types, it’s an excessive rise and guaranteed to affect job stability and blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda.

According to students, youth councils, and other representative groups, it’s a kick in the teeth for hard-working young Aussies just trying to get ahead and blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda.

So, which is it?

When I heard the news, I felt the familiar stirring of Youth Pride and Teen Angst stirring in my gut. Yeah! F the man! We deserve more! Let’s have us a protest!

But when I tried to stand up in solidarity, my knees locked and I realised that I’m more Creepy Middle Aged Woman Holding On To Lost Youth than Youth Crusader For Justice.

And that got me thinking.

The fact is $15.80 a week isn’t much. You can’t buy a movie ticket for that price. You can’t buy a six-pack of beer. You can’t even pay the cover charge to get into some nightclubs. It’s a paltry amount.

But…

But $15.80 a week is $821.60 per year.

For a small business with three employees, that’s an extra $2500 dollars a year in wages. The unions were asking for twice that amount, which is excessive when you think about it from the small business owner perspective.

So is the raise too low?

The youth radio station I was listening to certainly seemed to think so. They made quite a joke of the whole thing. “I want to hear from you,” the DJ said. “Tell me what you’ll spend your extra $15.80 a week on. Bonus points if you come up with something that costs exactly $15.80.”

And as people called and texted and tweeted in with their answers (Fake dreadlocks! A McDonald’s meal! A bath towel!), I got to thinking.

I’m not on minimum wage. In fact, I’m not on any wage. I’m a Mum who does some freelancing work on occasion, and dreams of selling enough books to buy a chain of deserted islands. So what could I buy with $15.80?

And this is what I came up with:

  • Two loaves of home-brand white bread: $2.00
  • One stick of home-brand butter: $1.90
  • Two dozen home-brand free-range eggs: $7.90
  • Four litres of unsweetened orange juice: $4.00

For $15.80, I can provide breakfast for a family of four for a week.

It’s funny, isn’t it? When you remove the instinctive Disaffected Youth Mentality reaction, the $15.80 pay-rise seems pretty damn reasonable.

Or maybe I’m just getting old.

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The Time for Change is Now

This is a post about the Newtown Shooting. More specifically, it is about the aftermath of the Shooting on Social Media platforms. Although I would very much like you to read what I have to say, I understand completely if you choose not to read on. Please come back tomorrow for more of my usual brand of blogging.

When I logged on to announce my return to the virtual world and share my happy holiday pics, there it was. Plastered all over my news feed and my timeline.

Children were dead. Shot dead while in the safety of their school.

Facebook and Twitter were full of exclamations of shock, horror, and disbelief; exhortations to hug your children just that little bit tighter; prayers and well-wishes for the survivors and the families of the victims. We, as a world full of people, were grief-stricken by the tragedy and we turned  to the internet in full-force to share the pain in our hearts and the knife of fear twisting in our guts: That could have been my child, or my school, or my son.

I didn’t comment. But I did hug my children tightly and let the outpouring of online grief wash over and around me until I could barely distinguish it from my own.

By the following day, the tone of the internet had changed. There was still grief and fear, but now those feelings were almost overwhelmed by anger.

Guns were to blame. Or mental illness. Or society. Or no one. Or video games. Or his mother. Or his absent father. The important thing was that someone or something was to blame. And we, as a world full of people, were going to shout our accusations into cyberspace until our virtual throats were hoarse and dripping with the blood of our impotent outrage.

I felt moved to comment, but what to say? All I really wanted was to dwell in my grief a little longer, and retain some ignorance and sanity in the face of a tragedy where the victim could have been my child, and it could have been at my school. I didn’t want to know the ages of the victims, or see their beautiful, innocent faces smiling at me from beyond the curtain of death.  I didn’t want to read the statistics on mass murders in the United States. I didn’t want to read well-written essays on mental health issues, or diatribes on the media’s glorification of violence, or the heartfelt and impassioned pleas to help the people. It doesn’t matter how, just help. Please.

I wanted to come to terms with what had happened in my own time and in my own way. I wasn’t ready to be forced into the open with my emotions still raw and my head full of rhetoric and hyperbole. So my message was simple:

As the days have passed, the grief-stricken out-pourings of pain have been smothered and hidden by righteous anger and vitriol aimed at society, guns, politicians, and, most of all, everyone who disagrees with our own points of view.

We, the people of the world, are filled with anger.

Anger at the gunman who committed this atrocity and will never pay for the crime in this life.

Anger at the society that raised and nurtured him and didn’t know or care that he was a risk to the lives of children.

Anger at the laws that enabled him easy access to weapons designed to kill, purchased to protect, and used to decimate the lives of not just the 28 victims, but also the lives of their friends and families.

And I believe anger is good. We should we angry. Because with anger come the drive for change. The desperate desire — no, need — to ensure this doesn’t happen again. To ensure our children are safe when we leave them at school. To ensure that we never have to face and overcome the horror of having it be our child, or our school, or our son.

So, I say to you: Hold on to that spark of anger. But don’t cradle it to your chest and let it turn into rage and bitterness and hatred. Use it.

Talk about how you feel.

Talk about the change you’d like to see.

Talk about what we, as the people of the world, can do to make sure this is the last time, the absolute last time, we have to come face to face with a tragedy like this one.

Talk about it in person, on the phone, over email, on your blog, on your social media platform of choice.

And when you’ve done some talking, stop and listen.

Listen to what everyone else is saying. Share their views, even if you don’t agree with them. Even if you think their solution is ludicrous. Even if it goes against everything you believe in.

Because the important thing is that they’re talking.

They’re not advocating a different solution to you because they’re crazy or deluded or too conservative or too liberal or too anything else. They’re advocating a different solution to you because they have a different opinion AND (and this is the important part) they care. They care just as much as you do. They care enough to talk about wanting to make a change.

We, the people of the world, need to stop yelling abuse at each other and start talking and listening and proposing solutions.

So you don’t want to lose your right to bear arms? Great. Show me a compromise; show me your solution.

So you don’t want to pay extra to improve the quality of care available to the mentally ill? Great. Show me a compromise; show me your solution.

So you don’t want to lose the right to watch violent movies and play violent computer games? Great. Show me a compromise; show me your solution.

Don’t stop talking.

Please.

Whatever you do, don’t stop talking.

But don’t use your righteous anger to attack other people with a different opinion who feel the same need to prevent another shooting as you do, use your anger to make a difference.

The blood of one child is too high a price to pay for social change.

Twenty children are dead.

The time for change is now.

Triumph of Evil

 

 

 

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Election 2012: I’m Australian and I Care

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last week talking to people about the upcoming US election, both online and in person. I’ve watched the debates, laughed at the memes, and tried really, really hard not to get too political on Facebook. I’ve accidentally turned innocent conversations about current events into diatribes on why the US election is so important, and who people should vote for. I have, in short, been thoroughly infected with Election Fever.

But I’m not American, I’m Australian.

So the election has nothing to do with me, right?

Wrong.

The result of the election on November 6 won’t just affect the USA for the next four years, it will affect the whole world. That’s why the whole world is watching.

Just because I can’t vote, and I have no way to significantly affect the outcome, doesn’t mean I don’t care.

Why I Care

Let’s just take a step back for a minute, and look at the relationship between America and Australia.

We’re military allies and trade partners, of course, but the relationship goes deeper than that. (Yes, I think we’ve taken it to “the next level”.)

In Australia, we grow up on American imports. Not just in terms of material goods, but also moral, ethical, and cultural ones. Our kids grow up watching Sesame Street and Bear in the Big Blue House and The Simpsons. They learn about Abraham Lincoln, the civil war, and the story behind Thanksgiving long before they learn about Australian history.

And it’s not just the kids. For a relaxing evening, we sit down and watch Glee or NCIS or How I Met Your Mother. When we turn on the radio, we hear Pink and Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. If we go to the movies, it’s to see Taken 2 or Looper or Madagascar 3. Then we stop on the way home to grab a bite at McDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken.

American culture has so invaded our mental space that Australians need to be reminded not to call 911 in an emergency (we call 000), and that we can’t take the 5th in court (…because we have our own constitution).

But none of that has anything to do with politics, right? Uhh…. Yes, and at the same time, no.

We’ve grown up emulating America. And that emulation doesn’t stop when we reach a certain age, or when we get to a certain position — partly because most Australians secretly think America is like our cool older brother, and partly because emulation of American culture is so deeply embedded in our sub-conscious that we barely realise it’s there.

When the President of the United States makes a decision, you can almost guarantee that Australian politicians will emulate that decision within the next six to twelve months.

The Australian Perspective

A recent Sydney newspaper poll asked Australians who they would support in the US election if they were given a vote. Of those polled, 72% would vote for Obama, compared to only 5% who would vote for Romney. (23% were undecided)

Clearly there are a lot of people in America who will be pleased that Australians don’t get to vote! But… why the huge preference for Obama?

Firstly, Obama has something of a Rock Star cum International Superstar image over here. We’ve loved him since he was campaigning in 2008, and not much has changed over the last four years. He’s liberal without being too liberal, he has the “cool American” thing going for him (in that he’s cool and he’s American), and he seems like a sane, honest (for a politician) family man.

Secondly, Australia is a lot more naturally liberal than America. We also have a lower gender wage gap, are closer to achieving marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, and can’t even comprehend the idea that abortion would be illegal in the case of rape or a potentially life-threatening pregnancy. (In fact, in 25% of Australia’s States and Territories, abortion is legal upon request, no questions asked.)

The interesting (and possibly troubling)  part of this is that, as I said above, Australians feel like they are just like Americans. So we watch the debates between Obama and Romney, and figure the outcome is a given. Romney wouldn’t last two minutes as an Australian politician, so it can be hard for us to come to terms with the idea that this is going to be a close election.

If Romney Wins, I Worry That…

…his economic plan to cut the deficit without increasing taxes will result in cuts in spending, leading to a recession that will affect not only the US, but also the Australian economy. And we’re really still recovering from the last economic meltdown!

…his view on GLBT rights will significantly impact American legislation (or lack thereof) and that will, in turn, affect Australia’s forward momentum in legalizing gay and lesbian marriages in all states and territories.

…his view on contraception, abortion, and women’s rights will negatively impact on women in Australia and the rest of the world.

If I was an American, there would be other issues that concerned me. And if I was actually a political scientist (instead of an opinionated blogger), I may have others still. But these are the ones that I’m worried about affecting me and my family.

Please vote

I’m Australian. I can’t vote. I can’t have any kind of significant impact on this election. I just have to sit here on the other side of the world, and hope that the election is won by the candidate who will be the most beneficial for me and my country’s future.

But if you’re in America, you can make a difference.

You can vote.

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