Many years ago, I remember having a conversation with some of my European friends. I call them that because despite being born here, their parents were migrants from various parts of Europe and they grew up with politics over their daily Weetbix and baklava.
My friends claimed that we in Australia were apathetic about politics, that we allowed ourselves to be walked all over and should be ashamed of ourselves for not keeping politicians honest. We had a heated discussion if I recall – me defending the whole Australian populace in a loud voice.
However, now I’m wondering if I’m suffering the same apathetic malaise.
I find that the current pre-election talk on the radio has ruined my mornings. I am a creature of habit – make the good coffee in the Italian espresso, put on the toast, lather one in Vegemite, the other in jam. Not the most balanced breakfast, but at my age I figure I can do as I like. While all of this activity is happening, the radio is murmuring in the background, quietly entertaining me.
In the past, if I didn’t like the content on one station, I would change to another, in a back and forth ping-pong of tastes. As one station reported on the woeful groin injuries of football players or the endless swapping of some in a mad round of trading, I would then change the station to a more soothing commentary.
But now, horror of horrors, the talk on the other station is all election, election, election, as if our very lives depend on it. Are we in some underdeveloped third world country where there is a need to overthrow the dictator and replace him with another? A place where our vote doesn’t count?
Are we seen as so gullible that we can’t see through the tactics and persuasive behaviours of politicians and have to be nagged and spoon-fed litres of promises before we can be trusted to vote?
I am tired of the tactics of our would-be leaders – the attacks on the opposition instead of answering a question, the reputational attacks, the dragging out of past history to justify these attacks and the fearmongering about hung parliaments and economic Armageddon. I am tired of personality politics instead of a focus on the real policy that each side(s) is proposing. Where are the dedicated statesmen who put the welfare of the public at the forefront of their campaigns?
Don’t get me wrong. I do value the right to vote. I think it is sacred and a hard-won right, especially for women and the underclasses. I will front up and do my bit for democracy on 21 May and be grateful that I have that right.
I just don’t want indigestion over breakfast.
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