My eyes welled with tears driving home. Sad. Angry. In Australia yesterday the Liberals (conservatives) won the elections. I take my politics seriously but this time my response has been more intense and passionate than ever.
Early signs – a few weeks ago I burnt off one of my oldest friends who levelled personal criticism at me when I did not laugh loudly enough (on email) at an anti- Kevin Rudd cartoon. For the first time in a long active political life I lost an important friendship over political differences. But really I was sick of the bile all around me. I should stop reading social media!
Those on the left with their loathing of Rudd were some of the most active whiteanters of the Labor government sniping him as they believed he had sniped Gillard.
For the first time in memory I could not watch the tally room commentaries knowing as I did that the current government would be whipped. Imagine this avoidance from a political junkie who as a young woman revelled in being a groupie in the national tally room on election night.
One of my best friends rang to say he thought the concession speech of the defeated PM Rudd had shown signs of an unhinged man. My frustration boiled over. Wasn’t the man who had been so vilified and had worked his guts out, entitled? Why did my friends, all left leaning, despise this man who for me had painted the only big pictures for this country since the great Gough?
Anyway as someone who had run for 8 elections (not for either party) and lost 2 of them, I knew a fraction of the personal hurt he could be masking that night.
Sure Kevin Rudd might be an undermining narcissist but he too was a victim. In one of the saddest karmic Shakespearean episodes in our short history he, as PM, was removed in a quick assassination only to later replace Brutus in a slightly less brutal way and perhaps more insidious way. But like many tragic figures he did not have the gift of forgiveness. How many of his critics would have I wonder?
I snapped. It’s not that I am a Rudd fan; it’s more I was sick to the stomach with the whole ugly thing. My friend and I decided not to talk for a few days.
Another dear friend rang and I speculated as to why I was so upset after I cited the self-satisfied man at the supermarket I had sniped at over a photo of the new leader in the paper.
This friend suggested it was because I had been sick all last week. I snapped at her too. Don’t patronise me. My political outrage is based on rational passionate views, I said.
What were they then? Why this anger? Because:
- I believe the new government is peopled with those of little compassion who constantly parroted negative canting superficialities over the past 4 years. Virtually none of them projected as people of heart.
- The campaign they fought had been scripted to avoid all real questions about what kind of a government they would make. Indeed most costs and policies are still unknown. And the media let them get away with it.
- Those few policies the new PM did articulate like: _
- buying back Indonesian boats used by people smugglers;
- paying rich women more money then others to have babies
just seem more than a bit CRAZY,
- The dirty digger, Rupert Murdoch was their primary advocate and used his media to proselytise the most despicable sloganeering ad hominem I have ever witnessed including a front page of one paper showing the Prime Minister and his deputy dressed as comic Nazis.
- During the last parliament both sides were hell bent on a race to the bottom to show they were not weak on the refugee issue. I had some slim hope that Labor (if the pressure were lessened) would weaken its stance and return to a more humane program as it had previously done. I have no such hope with the conservatives.
- The mindless slogans – Stop the Boats, Cut the Taxes, The country is in a mess – contributed to the public’s negativity. The truth is that we have never had it so good — interest rates are lowest they have ever been; we have one of the highest standards of living in the world; our GDP is comparatively healthy; national debt is comparatively low etc. etc.
- The new Prime Minister Abbott and his close henchmen have led a relentless campaign of destruction over the past five years tearing down two Labor leaders. They showed their greatest hatred for our first, strong and most dignified woman Prime Minister through episodes where Tony Abbott incited the crowd in front of posters saying Ditch the Witch. His own actions and words and his lack of criticism of his outrageous shock jock allies, endorsed a new politics of personal bile and vile like I have never seen before.
- I am heartbroken other citizens appeared to be so dumbed down as to not see how manipulated they were being. They bought the conservative message and wanted the reforming PM Julia Gillard to go.
- This was an election of “what’s in it for me” rather than one of “what’s best for the country as a whole”. Increasing material selfishness is becoming a hallmark when I continue to hope it might be more JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
- The new Prime Minister is a misogynist, xenophobe, climate denier, and homophobe – no matter that his Barbie daughters say it’s just “daddy dad” talk. I don’t want someone’s “daggy dad” as my Prime Minister. And we are heading back to the fifties when under a unified Labor lot we might, just might, have been a role model for an open, compassionate, egalitarian, liberal society. And cynics say there is little difference between the two major parties!!
Sure governments rotate at regular intervals and this is part of the cycle. But few in the process of generating the impetus for the rotation have so undermined the values of a fair go and equality that I thought were the hallmarks of this country.
When this incoming Prime Minister said Australia was again “open for business” it said it all. The sleight of words -no one had ever suggested it had been closed; but more importantly, those striving for a humane and just society would not have mainlined that theme.
Anyway it is now two days in and I am calming down. But I don’t apologise for the up swelling of my passion.