Come September,vote with your reason not your emotions

11 Jun

Of all the scurrilous campaigns conducted by the Federal Opposition, and maniacally propagated by almost all the mainstream media, the erroneous suggestion that we vote for a leader when we elect a government in this country has to be one of the most dangerous.

Dangerous because it deliberately disguises the manner in which our Westminster political system actually works. We do not elect our leaders. We elect a party that is entirely responsible for electing its own leader. As we know all too well, a party can sack their leader, without consulting us, at any time.  Had any of us been in any doubt about this, it was made graphically obvious when the ALP defenestrated Kevin Rudd in  his first term as leader, and after he’d led them to an extraordinary victory.

Be that as it may.

I’ve heard and read of many people vowing that if the ALP now defenestrates Prime Minister Julia Gillard, they will never vote Labor again. While I can fully sympathise with this enraged despair, an expression of powerlessness if ever there was one, at the same time it is alarmingly nihilistic, and the country can ill-afford dramatic gestures at this point in our politics.

The ALP needs to get its house in order and earn back the trust it squandered with heart-stopping recklessness since 2007. It may well be doing this from the Opposition benches. Things may well have got so bad there really is no hope of them retaining government, no matter who leads them. But disillusioned as many of us are, we have to do our bit and use our heads, not our hearts. If there is any chance at all of minimising a Labor defeat, we have to take it. The alternative, a coalition government led by Tony Abbott, likely in place for decades, is simply too appalling to contemplate.

The notion that we vote for our leader is part of the Opposition campaign, which relies almost entirely on disseminating false information through the use of simplistic   narratives. The degree to which it has taken hold in the electorate is shocking. That we behave and vote as if we live in a presidential electoral system reveals a vast and profound ignorance of our reality, an ignorance the Opposition and certain sections of the media manipulates and exploits to its own advantage.

No matter how pissed off you are with those in the ALP who have brought us to this, look first to who is standing in your electorate, not to who will or will not be, temporarily, the leader. I know they don’t deserve our trust. But nobody deserves decades of a Coalition government, while the ALP languishes in greatly reduced numbers, as ineffective in opposition as they have been in dealing with their internal strife.

Come September, vote with you reason, not your emotion. And that way, perhaps the damage can be minimised.

40 Responses to “Come September,vote with your reason not your emotions”

  1. doug quixote June 11, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    The media engaging in groupthink seems to be attempting to stampede Labor into resurrecting Rudd – as if that makes sense.

    Gillard for all her faults is the chosen leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, chosen not once but three times over three years.

    A Great Leader would be desirable, but I don’t see any Napoleons or Roosevelts just at the moment.

    As Jennifer points ou,t we elect only the local member (and Senators for one State only) and it is misleading and wrong to assert that we elect the Prime Minister.


    • Marilyn June 11, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

      When no-one stands against you it is pretty ridiculous to say you won.

      Gillard is a fucking deranged monster Doug and it is about time you faced it.

      Adverts to force Afghan Hazaras to stay home and submit to the genocide? How much worse do you think we can be with her racist majesty in charge?


      • doug quixote June 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

        So if you are elected unopposed, you have never been elected at all?

        You frighten me sometimes, Marilyn. I sometimes called Bob Ellis a loose cannon, but you . . . . words fail me.


        • Marilyn June 12, 2013 at 1:26 am #

          No you dingbat, it means you take it on a plate. That is not an election, it is taking a gift on a plate. You really are as dumb as a frigging post.


          • doug quixote June 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

            I am very close to responding in kind to you Marilyn. Please keep a civil tongue in your head.

            Your point is absurd. If an election is open to anyone who cares to nominate, the person unopposed is elected unanimously.


  2. zerograv1 June 11, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    The ALP propagates this myth by handing out sheets on how to comment to surprise questions to parliamentary members (Polls come and go, the only poll that matters is on election day for instance). This creates the illusion that we only vote for one person who dictates one message. Both major parties prefer to keep their members quiet and let the leaders make nameplate announcements and responses. The recent rebellion to this in the ALP indicates that this approach doesn’t work even if it is designed to prevent political gaffes and stay on message. The electorate simply doesn’t get to know who else is in the cabinet or shadow cabinet to any useful degree apart from the occasional permitted media release for a portfolio. Hence the illusion is propagated at cost to all. I believe the strategy is wrong for a couple of reasons. One – it singles out one personal target for opposing attacks (The leader) Two – It requires the electoral consumer to purchase the party policy without examining the implementers of its delivery. To put that another way its like marrying the person of your dreams knowing they have a large family you have never met and only getting to realize what you have got tangled up in when the wedding reception delivers all the relatives – some you may prefer to not have any connection to for whatever reason. In commercial terms its deceitful conduct to hide the extra aspects of the product including its flaws and can trigger at least a return of goods. The ALP cannot blame anyone for media rumors, lies and spin while they hide behind Gillard. A shoulder to shoulder broad front from at least the cabinet dissipates the attack, displays the goods and engages the electorate. Until they do that they only have themselves to blame for the easy target they present to the media and opposition.


  3. Christine Says Hi June 11, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    I was recently “phone polled” about my electorate choices and asked if I’d vote for the ALP ‘more’ or ‘less’ (yes really) if Rudd was leader. I explained I would do neither as I had no control over the leadership of any party, that was a matter for the membership’s internal arrangements. The person doing the polling argued with me that ‘we choose our leaders in Australia’ … and they were not some young ‘un chock full of US propaganda via sit-coms and the Die Hard franchise. Voter education is needed, and it’s needed life long, because we could all do with a refresher from time to time!


    • hudsongodfrey June 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve wondered though, how would we vote in an ideal world. It might be nice if we could simplify things by voting for all levels of government at the same time, perhaps even using the same electoral boundaries. Then at least we’d know who our representatives at all levels were and pick them accordingly with a view to expecting power to work vertically if not entirely horizontally.


      • paul walter June 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

        The one thing they don’t want is “horizontal” because they are scared of the choice of rejection offered the masses. Then there is the inertia against change,
        I think the reason does not work is because the intentions of those with hands on levers are not in accord with the uses of the mechanism.
        The Australian People may consign themselves and any others foolish or unfortunate enough to be towed in their wake,with them but my curse be upon them if it brings me down too..


        • hudsongodfrey June 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

          Indeed! Divide and conquer I think they call it.

          May we curse their armpits with the fleas of a thousand camels!


  4. hudsongodfrey June 11, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I don’t think Labor would actually win if I had two rational votes and the twinned hearts of Dr Who to go with them, but I can think of a couple of very good reasons not to necessarily take defeat lying down.

    As it stands the yellow press would have us believe that Abbott can virtually stride up to the podium as it were and take government without as much as enunciating a single policy. Which seems fortuitous for him since he has precious few policies to be carrying on with. As far as I can see thus far the key points of Abbott’s position amount to a litany of negatives, none of which at least half the populace ought to be overjoyed to embrace.

    Briefly, there’s killing the carbon tax and replacing it with something nobody thinks will work or can figure out how he’s going to pay for. There’s dumping the mining tax while simultaneously introducing paid parental leave at levels we can’t afford, even while he’s talking up lower taxes, ruinous austerity and regressive workplace relations in a relatively buoyant economy. Gonki’s probably goneski and who knows whether we’ll ever get an NDIS. All we do know is that he’s digging holes for himself promising to “turn back boats” when that of all issues which shouldn’t really matter to Australians has become the centrepiece of dog whistle politics steeped in disgusting abuses of people’s human rights…..

    Am I done yet?

    The way we’re going it won’t be six months into a new government before the dead cat bounces for the last time and people start realising that there may well be nothing that this man can’t turn an anti-midas touch upon. And since very nearly half the populace have supported the kind of progressive Labor policies that Gillard et al have ruinously compromised there’s very little joy to be had in seeing either side of politics take a wrecking ball to them.

    So the question for many a rational progressive seems to be almost a choice between hating to see what’s traditionally thought of as “their side” letting the team down with the drift to the right their faceless urgers have created, or to be free to vent all their spleen at what seems likely to be done by the old enemy.

    They say a hundred days is fairly an eternity in politics, I just hope whatever happens that our politicians are held accountable for their policies rather than what they’re wearing and how many babies they kiss. Because from a progressive perspective neither seems particularly presentable as anything other than the lesser of two evils, and for most of us the luxury of knowing that others may suffer more of the consequences of misplaced faith in a change of government than we will is hardly a moral reason for justifying anything.

    If there are any positives at all to be brought out of our current situation then they’d be to say that if Labor are really past their use by date, and the opposition are even more unpalatable then maybe it’s time to rally behind a cry of vive la independents! Or at least I would say that any vote for keeping the Bastards honest that is lodged intelligently and with preferences in mind is a vote that I can also respect.


    • samjandwich June 11, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      You may well be right in your last paragraph there HG. I’m sure in the past there have been instances of one party’s platform completely dissolving with nary a trace. Maybe it’s simply been so long since anything of the sort has happened that it comes as a bit of a shock for us post-war polemicists,

      I do rather struggle to understand what’s going on at the moment, but I would think there are a large number of influences contributing, whether they be historical, intellectual, emotional, knowledgeable, or ignoramical, but which don’t really bear erious analysis lest you come across somebody who managed quite legitimately to argue the complete opposite. When I first started taking notice of politics I was quite optimistic about the potential of the Democrats. Here was a party, I thought, that espoused intellectualism without favouritism. But look what happened to them! No, all you can say is that people can vote for whomever they want, but the reasons for their decisions are as inexplicable as their justifications for choosing Coles over Woolies, Toyota over Holden, or doggy style over the reverse cowgirl even.

      But just like many other places, we do have a precedent of sorts in NSW. the Labor party here was more or less wiped out at the last election, and while they are occasionally given a platform to comment on certain issues they are still going through their internal purging of the sources of their unpopularity. Maybe Kevin Rudd will post-election be thought of as the equivalent of Eddie Obeid, and it will take a whole generation for the Labor party to get rid of the likes of him and reinvent itself.

      And maybe one positive to be pointed out is that with such a universally objectionable man as Tony Abbott on the other side, the scope for such a reinvention could be greater than it otherwise would be.


      • hudsongodfrey June 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

        History my well argue as to whether the Labor party has had a platform over the past term or not. They certainly had initiative of their choosing which they did pursue and issues not of their choosing which they floundered on. But I suppose when picking alternatives the real question I have is about the Liberals as to whether simply being against everything from all quarters is a platform position or merely a tactic that doesn’t of itself deserve to be rewarded.

        Considerations like the one above, requiring us to make comparisons on merit, certainly don’t to my mind form part of “…reasons for their decisions [that] are as inexplicable as their justifications for choosing Coles over Woolies, Toyota over Holden etc….”

        So where I’m actually at now may be less hopeful for Labor’s prospects and if I’m honest less than up for more of the same, but certainly no less cautiously opposed to Abbott taking government in an unopposed capacity.


        • samjandwich June 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

          I think they’ve had a pretty strong platform (which given its hypothetical dimensions we might call their halibut!-) as cautious reformers of fairly specific types of inequality, and addressers of long-festering ruptures in social justice, but yes as you say the “issues not of their choosing” have not just engendered the type of incoherent indecisiveness often attributed to that other overly-maligned species of fish – rather they stand in complete inconsistency with the halibut they might otherwise have had!

          Essentially though, I am interested in Jennifer’s calling for people to make rational choices at the polling booth, when we’ve already more or less established that to be rational requires a judicious application of emotional intelligence.

          In fact, it reminds me of a song…


          • hudsongodfrey June 11, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

            Been reminded of that one twice in three weeks thanks. Damn that Lucy Jordan song of her’s carves you up though doesn’t it. I actually thought Marianne had shuffled off until I checked, rumours of her demise seem to be exaggerated, but she’s struggled with her health and we can only hope she’s doing okay 🙂


  5. doug quixote June 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    Governments get rewarded for governing well by being re-elected, even though the voters may be grumpy and out of sorts.

    This government has a remarkably good record, and any remotely competent campaign should see them re-elected.

    The Murdoch media in particular are trying to make them panic into removing their favoured leader. It sounds a bit like the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, but Don’t Panic seems the order of the day with three months to the election.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) June 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      It is all the voters’ fault.

      Keep Calm & Carry On.


      • Anonymous June 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

        The simple big error the alp is making is leadership instability. Regardless of the effective media campaign to smear the govts performance this constant talk of moving the deckchairs around makes the electorate uneasy. Stable govt it is not nor are policy reversals. The libs drovers dog in abbot only has to stay on msg with sloganism to appear stable. Whoever is advising the alp this time around obviously didnt pass politics 101


      • paul walter June 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

        Well it the voter’s fault in many ways, Forrest Gump.
        They’ve had nearly six years to look at Labor, but also six years to read the writing on the wall as to neoliberalism and austerity economics applied offshore and look at the opposition, as to what it may or may not not offer, so in the end its not sufficient to just blame the electorate, or the press and media, or the opposition, or entirely Labor itself,even.
        Labor has not helped itself by not sticking to its 2007 platform, which was a good set of programs only disliked by the vested interests of the mining industry and banks.
        It was elected as a response and palliative to capitalist globalisation by an electorate browned off with Howard. The people expected a Labor government to hold the line on rational environmentalism, a humane treatment of asylum seekers, retention of.civil liberties, education and the encouragement of a free press and media.
        But the world system is not interested in societies as bastions for civilisation, economics exists for the Trans national corporations,not civilsation. The Murdoch press and media were stuck into Rudd from the day he got into office and the sort of money spent undermining Rudd over the Mining Tax along with Rudd’s own dithering on the carbon tax, shows how determined the big interests were in keeping , not just some but most of the wealth from the mining boom.
        The Labor right panicked and removed Rudd to appease the Big End, because the right could see business opportunities to be made by collaborating with big capital rather than regulating its activities. Buif Labor have been wrong, so everyone else has been, too and I dont feel the country has been so badly by Labor should cop the blame alone for any thing wrong that has happened in people’s lives over the last six years and I still dont see where Abbott has in any way demonstrated that his values and attittudes are any thing but worse than even Labor’s..
        Its the system and our politics is just a confection created by that world system


        • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) June 12, 2013 at 6:46 am #

          So much for my attempted imitation of what I think to be Helen Razer.


          • paul walter June 12, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

            No Forrest, one Razer is enough


        • hudsongodfrey June 12, 2013 at 9:48 am #

          Regardless of who you’re channelling it’s not as if you’ve made that bad a fist of it. it’s just that the thing about Rudd being a “palliative to capitalist globalisation” doesn’t quite ring true for me. I think what the people were looking for at the end of the Howard era wasn’t a palliative to the big end of town’s capitalist economic stance so much as it’s neoconservative anti democratic stance. In other words I think Australians don’t mind prosperity, but they very much mind what basically amounts to unfairness. In this case it takes the putative form of an unelected authoritarian form of controlling influence over the nation’s domestic and international political affairs.

          Guess what! When a few faceless men who’d seen one too many episodes of Boardwalk Empire overthrew the Ruddster, poisoned dwarf of not, they’d basically had practically the same effect on the democratic conversation as some of the worst excesses of the right under Howard did. We weren’t left feeling in control of our own destiny anymore.

          Was it always an illusion? Perhaps it was, but whereas Gillard may have benefitted from an initial sense of support being our first woman in the job, even the staunchest ranks of her sisterhood must by now be judging her performance on its merits and finding it wanting. After all where is the rebuttal to unfairness? Its certainly not there when it comes to a strong mining tax or to ill treatment of refugees casting themselves upon our mercies.

          But fairness is there in parcelled out chucks when it comes to workplace relations, education, health and the environment. Or it least it is more present than we’re reason to suspect it will be under the opposition. And if it looks like the process has been wrong with pragmatism leading in the race over vison then that’s probably true, and its probably the result of a minority government.

          So perhaps the message to tell is that Labor did the best that they could. Their failure in telling it has been that neither they as a party nor Gillard personally adopted a visionary stance that anyone could get behind. She can’t rely on misogyny speeches and the fact that many people dislike Tony Abbott so heavily as to fail to deliver the one thing many want in a politician leading a party into a possible third term, the one thing Obama understood right at the very beginning…. People need a modicum of hope that somebody is actually on their side!

          You can write off personality politics, or you can point out that the idea of the Liberals under Turnbull might seem to have a manifestly different perspective. However I think you can’t entirely discount the bitter personal infighting within the Labor party as a distraction of their energies and ours from any sense we might have had that they could form and lead towards a cohesive vision that has fairness at it’s core.

          Lesser of two evils? Maybe! But able to win on that basis with poll driven sound bites and little besides….. I really don’t think so!

          It’s wagons in a circle and turtles all the way down, so try and grab onto one before it’s too late!


  6. Marilyn June 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I hate both major parties and most of the media.


    • paul walter June 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      Just missed that post, but a similar take to mine- pessimistic. The public is pessimistic too- what bothers me as much as the factional rottenness of Labor is that the publicshould look so eagerly to Abbott and his predators under the circumstances, knowing what they are, too.


      • Marilyn June 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

        FActional rottenness is right. Gillard is far right of Ghanghis Khan and makes me vomit.


  7. Garpal Gumnut June 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    As usual a very prescient post Jennifer. Politics in the modern world comes down to class, and the ALP has betrayed it’s base, it’s working class, and it will get whacked for it. It deserves to.
    Kim Beazley Snr famously said at a Labor state conference in 1970, blasting his ” New Class fellow ALP members: “When I joined the Labor Party, it contained the cream of the working class. But as I look about me now all I see are the dregs of the middle class. And what I want to know is when you middle class perverts are going to stop using the Labor Party as a spiritual spitoon.”
    I see nothing in the above comments which would dissuade me from agreeing with Beazley Snr. in 2013.
    An introspective, trendy, incestuous commentariat now has control of working class politics.
    And they are surprised that the working class will vote them in to oblivion in September.
    They blame the working class, Abbott, Media and Fortuna.
    It is in fact the fault of the “New Class” and long may they suffer for their betrayal of Labor values. As an LNP supporter I hear daily that we support the Working Class more than the ALP, on border protection, jobs, education and safe working practices.
    The ALP seem more reactive than proactive, and hopefully will end up as a rump party such as the Greens.
    Then a new Workers party may emerge to usefully challenge our LNP, as challenge and politics are essential for democracy.
    The ALP is not democratic. It is a self interested middle/upper class self interested rabble, living through unions and patronage on the national teat.


    • hudsongodfrey June 12, 2013 at 12:17 am #

      Basically how long have you got!

      The problem with your thesis is just that it is outdated. The so called working class to whom you refer have mutated into a generally more sophisticated version of their former selves for a whole range of reasons to do with technology change, education, and most importantly progress.

      As we know the kinds of union movements set up to address the worst excesses of the industrial revolution became victims of their own success and struggled to remain relevant in the later half of the 20th Century.

      At some incarnation of Labor in government around about the Whitlam era the party had to reinvent itself as a progressive force seeing conservatism on social and economic issues as the real enemy.

      Now either the Party we see today has abandoned those precepts by shifting inexorably to the right, ironically under the influence of union hacks whose outdated views continue to hamper Labor, or progress itself has been exhausted and this incarnation too is a victim of it’s own success.

      I strongly suggest that it is not the latter!


      • Marilyn June 12, 2013 at 1:28 am #

        Gillard is playing the men in blue ties, the banishment of women from parliament and abortion laws – she thinks she is fucking Sarah Palin.

        Talk about a pathetic load of whining.


        • hudsongodfrey June 12, 2013 at 9:02 am #

          I tend to agree that given the speech was apparently unprompted it seemed very much as if she’s tilting at a strawman in search of any possible way to fight on turf of her choosing.


          • doug quixote June 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

            I think she is right to continue the push against the throwback leader of a throwback party.

            The dregs of Howard’s last ministry must never get their trotters back into the trough.


            • hudsongodfrey June 13, 2013 at 12:01 am #

              Well at least you have to admit that Brough menu thing landing in her lap like that was a spectacularly fortuitous coincidence.

              As far as I’m concerned, and I wish the government were too, what all that stuff really amounts to is a massive distraction.


              • doug quixote June 13, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

                “That Brough menu thing landing in her lap” seems an unfortunate turn of phrase!

                But it is about time she got some luck. It has all been Abbott’s way since late 2010. Perhaps the worm is turning.


                • hudsongodfrey June 13, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

                  I can assure you it’s a common turn of phrase and an unfortunate interpretation that I had not considered.

                  How is it that gets picked up when the intended inference that I only hope luck was all that was behind that menu’s materialisation got overlooked?

                  Moving on to Jennifer’s latest piece in the conversation there I’m also saying that if Gillard is playing on women’s authentic grievances for cynical political reasons it would not go well.

                  Sorry for being a cynic myself but its an election year and one can hardly avoid such impulses!


                  • doug quixote June 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

                    I’m joking HG. You are as PC as they come. 🙂


                    • hudsongodfrey June 15, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

                      I don’t think you can be PC and like the comedy of Tim Minchin and Jimmy Carr as much as I do, so when this happens you can probably assume that I’m looking for a polite way to let on that I know you’re joking but its more than just some “too soon” factor that’s dampening the mood around this issue. Jokes and puns have their places but I don’t think that you can rescue a joke that already went sour by double dipping in the bucket marketed innuendo searching for a lighter side to this mess.


                    • doug quixote June 16, 2013 at 9:42 am #

                      That you like their humour means that you are PC! Leftist humour holds up a mirror to oneself. To self-deprecate is the very essence of it. The humour of the right relies on look at all those strange funny little people doing strange things – “funniest home videos”, for example or the send ups of towel-heads, or Barry Humphries’ cruel caricatures.

                      Other people doing strange silly things, things “We” (of the Right) would never do.

                      Minchin, Adam Hills, Jimmy Carr, Stephen Fry Billy Connolly and a gaggle of others hold up their mirror and say :

                      “What a foolish human thing I am!”

                      The Right say “What a lot of foolish sub-human things they (over there) are!”


                    • hudsongodfrey June 16, 2013 at 10:00 am #

                      I don’t think you’re entirely wrong about parts of left and right humour, but I still think the assumption that to lean to the political left is to be PC is I think a questionable one in this context. After all if you just want to talk dick and fart jokes then clearly they are mostly poking fun at conservative sensibilities and yet they form part of what in the modern lexicon is also called political incorrectness that kind of propriety having become lumped in with the political correctness of the right.


  8. samjandwich June 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Here’s an interesting article:


    • doug quixote June 16, 2013 at 9:30 am #

      A rather strange article, for mine. Boiling it down, the good professor wants to educate the masses as much as they can be expected to absorb, (for example) to graduate from Alan Jones to Andrew Bolt! Not only patronising on one level but wishful thinking.

      He would like political education to be conducted in a Jamie Oliver food education fashion : make your mashed potato with parsley and chives!

      Every little bit helps, I suppose.


  9. paul walter June 16, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    It was pretty good, but in the end naive. The era for social infrastructure has come and gone, sadly.Today we have atomising austerity and economic rationalism instead.
    There has to be good faith and with neoliberalism’s “red in tooth claw” world, good faith is something despised rather than valued.
    The country has grown”old”. It is now on the defensive, atop the heap with a shotgun, faced with the eternal task of driving off the have-nots, or stupefied on an easy existence.


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