A plague on both their houses
This election campaign will be memorable by its nothingness. The inability of either side to really connect with voters. Soft polling, soft issues, soft policy. And a stunning lack of vision of where our country is heading or even who the leaders really are.
This election campaign is an indictment of all parties on the political spectrum, but also on our electoral system.
Let’s face it: would we have such a pathetically weak campaign if we didn’t have compulsory voting? If they actually had to work to get us to the polls, do you think we’d be talking about a citizens assembly on climate change or the questionability of a promise to not bring back workplace relations measures already comprehensively rejected by the Australian public?
If Senators had to actually campaign as individuals to get the required votes, rather than just needing the party line and preferences to deliver them back to Canberra, would so many of them be sitting around having a nice break, commenting or hanging out in campaign HQ?
And if we had optional preference voting instead of compulsory, would so many members of safe seats be taking time to campaign elsewhere, rather than looking their own constituency in the eye when asking for their vote?
I have always thought that the best thing about an election campaign is that it gives the people an opportunity to be heard. Not just at the ballot box, but during the campaigning that gives more voters an opportunity to directly question their representatives and tell them what they need. Our election system, and in particular the internal practices of the discipline obsessed parties, muffles the voters’ voice.
It is of course the discipline of the parties, the obscene need for control, which is the cancer rotting our democracy. It ensures our electoral system favours parties, not voters. It debilitates our proud local leaders in to party lackeys, forbidden to hold their own opinion. And it holds our country back from true open and honest debate, exploring new ideas and doing what is right.
We have two weeks left. Two weeks where either our leaders can come out of the witness protection program and show us where the real choice is. Two weeks for each and every candidate to get out in public, go on radio, or hit the website/ twitter/ facebook and engage with their voters.
Will it happen? I doubt it. Some will of course, but only those in marginal seats and those who respect voters… so maybe a fifth of all candidates if we’re lucky.
We, the voters, allow them to get away with this. A plague on both their houses that we do nothing to treat or prevent. One way or another we must use the power of the people to crush the party power of discipline, or we may as well not bother voting at all.