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Friday, 9 March 2012

Why voting for a party is voting for second best

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the people who we elected to represent us in Government actually represented us? Our needs, our community, our future?

Not their 'party' or their parties major 'sponsors'...

Now, I can appreciate that when we vote for a member of a party we might be making assumptions about that persons values, or most likely voting patterns, that is, they will vote with and align with the party they represent. And that when we make a decision to vote for that person/party, that is what we are really voting for.

But the safety blanket of believing that we know what a party stands for (eg Liberal, Labour, Greens, Demoscrats etc) is now long gone.

Major parties change their policies and their views over time as our society evolves, and I am fine with fact, I would be advocating for that to happen if it wasn't!

But how many people still vote liberal or labour because they feel that that the 'party philsophy' or reason for existence is somwhow in line with their own personal philosphy of life?

When in fact I would argue that these parties have moved much closer together in terms of major policy than ever before.  So how do you discriminate?

And before we can explore that thought, let's set the scene a bit and be realistic - I am really talking either voting labour or liberal in the context of Australian politics - if you aren't likely to vote for one of these parties then you have already started to think objectively (yay!) and have made a decision to make your vote count more materially by voting for some other person/party...good on you! Or be a swinging voter....

But for those that are still voting out of some kind of knee jerk reaction, how then are you discriminating between these two major parties? Big government vs small? 'less red tape' so you can do the things you want without living in a nanny state? but enough red tape to protect you from the actual idiots and criminals whom also inhabit our society...where do you draw the line?

Who pays for roads, rubbish collection, hospitals, education of our kids? As a society, how do we control the media, communications companies, defence (and making decisions about war), import tariffs etc?

Things just aren't that simple.  And what a tragic reflection of our society that significant, important and complicated issues must be dumbed down to a twitter limited 140 character grab? Is the media not embarrassed about perpetuating this dilemma?

Obviously many people don't think about these things, or just don't have the time whilst trying to put brread on their own family table, and who can blame them.

So, what is happenning? How do we make these decisions, consciously or subconsciously?

I think that many of us might be aligning ourselves with a character, a person, a supposed 'gut feel' that they are like us. And hope or assume that these people have done the hard intellectual yards and we can blissfully just vote for them/the party they represent, and get on with our lives.

I agree with this as a good approach - we are the dominant species on the planet for a reason, and one of those reasons is our 'built in' communication skills - but this only works if that person actually did do what they perported that they would do. We can all probably think of examples where pollies say one thing which has a common meaning but has a different legel interpretation... "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"...."I support restoring maternity services to Pambula long as this is economically feasible and safe for patients"...what a loop hole!

Where is the honesty in politics? Where is the score card? Where is the tally of what your representative voted for vs what they have publicly said they would do? Alas, this too is a bit complicated as well, to just so easily classify this way. But why don't our pollies wear this sort of easy information like a badge of honour? I did represent you! I did vote like I said I would (here is my history). I did apply the resources and influence of my office to resolve problems...hereis my hisotry! And look, I don't work just for major political contributors but all would be easy.

Obviously, it isn't easy, which is why we look for the quick solutions and the advice of others....
And yes, I know - the parties don't make it easy either! They might not want you to think too much, but just vote for them. And this is where modern politics has evolved the political beast. All spin, no depth. Which is why voting for a party may not be the best choice for you.

Sadly, we are often presented with a choice of deciding which major party don't we want in Government, rather than having the luxury of a real candidate standing up. and this must be voting for second best, rather than voting smart.

So if you are lucky enough to have an independent candidate standing in your elections, and they aren't crazy or a 'single issue' unknown, then vote for someone whom obviously cares enough about their local issues to throw their hat in the ring, and hopefully has a proven track record of being able to get things done locally.
And don't vote for a party first. Vote for them last (and think how lucky we are to live in a place like Australia where you can not only vote, but cast preferential voting so you really can have an informed say! Let the parties know what you really think, don't let them take you for granted).

Ivan :)

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