Right now we have federal elections looming both here in Australia and also in America. I am happy to admit that for many years I didn’t invest much time or energy in learning about the different political parties, understanding their ideological positions and their policies. It is all too easy to dismiss them as all the same, and conclude that we are simply equally screwed regardless of who gets into power. I again confess that I have certainly expressed this opinion in the past.
I do indeed think that it is true that parties and candidates on both sides of the political spectrum have to work within the same overall system, and are subject to influence by outside forces that may make it difficult for them to fully manifest their ideals. Likewise, I agree that there are certain modes of behaviour that are common on both sides of the political spectrum. However, it simply isn’t true that all politicians are the same, or that all parties are the same. It simply isn’t true that we get the same results regardless of who wins the election. Rather, we do see some correspondence between the actions of a party once in power and its political ideology.
It is sad however that breaking election promises has become par for the course, to the point that some commentators think we shouldn’t be too hard on politicians when they fail to come through on the things that got them elected in the first place. Hence, we can understand the apathy that many of us feel towards electing new leaders. However, we the people need to make a stand and demand honest leaders with integrity who will come through on their word. We will not achieve this by sitting on the sidelines and ignoring the action up on the stage, but rather by paying closer attention to what goes on in office.
It is commonly thought to be impolite to discuss politics, religion, philosophy and other subjects in public, due to the offense that many take to hearing opinions contrary to their own. These subjects stir the egos of pretty much all involved and often bring out the worst in us. However, we have a crazy situation where it is considered fine to talk trash, gossip and so forth, but discussing things that really matter is out of bounds.
Politics really matters. It determines how a nation collects and spends money, how it behaves in international conflict and what ideology drives its actions. Our involvement (or lack thereof) in political affairs can help to influence whether or not we (and those we care for) can access affordable education and healthcare, it influences the state of our transport infrastructure, our environmental policy, whether or not we attempt to intervene to prevent discrimination and bullying, how our economy functions and whether businesses are constraint by excessive red-tape, whether financial institutions and international businesses are allowed to take advantage of our nation, how we go about intervening and offering assistance to those who suffer in other nations around the globe, and on it goes.
I would like to challenge us all (myself included) to take responsibility and start to invest more of ourselves into engaging with the big issues. Sure, we all have lots going on in our own lives. However, it has become all too acceptable to become completely immersed in our personal dramas and sheltered from the big picture. We need to care about the big issues, we need to invest some of our own time and energy into educating ourselves and becoming somewhat active on a national and international level.
Perhaps the first thing we can all do is to take time to learn about the parties and candidates who we will be voting for in the upcoming elections, rather than allowing ourselves to be swayed by the propaganda machine that inevitably rolls forth in the time preceding the election. We need to be educated so that we cannot simply be enticed by mere slogans.
I would hope that in the near future we can show politicians what we demand of them, rather than simply accepting that it is normal for politicians to behave like primary school kids, shouting each other down, using cheap shots, launching witch-hunts like trashy tabloid magazines, lying through their teeth, falling short on their promises and all that. We must demand that our leaders demonstrate behaviour above and beyond what we see amongst the masses. We must demand calm, rational, compassionate and generous leaders. We want men and women who demonstrate that they have open minds and hearts, patience, wisdom, and the bravery necessary to lead our nations into difficult territory.
Likewise, we the people must be willing to invest some degree of time to consider opposing arguments from both sides in order to decide which policies we wish to support, rather than being led by the tactics employed by industry spokespeople and religious apologists when defending their institutions against the threat of collapse.
We the people must take responsibility for who we elect and why. The stakes are indeed high. There are many in America who are terrified of what will happen both to America and to others at the hands of America if Trump were to be elected. Likewise, for us in Australia we will reap what we sow in regards to who we elect. I urge for everyone to attempt to lay their egos aside and care more about the big issues in life, as they really do matter, and they affect all of us.