Election Day blues…

I was trying – really trying – to avoid posting about the election.

But I find myself so distressed over all the political shenanigans over the past few weeks that I just can’t help myself.

I think elections are difficult for people like me, who care deeply about politics in the sense that we are passionate about what makes society just, fair, compassionate and stable – and also have a faith that we are still working out.

This means the intersection of faith and politics at times like these is just – quite horrible.

From a political perspective, I will never be able to join the ranks of the right-wing conservative Christians who could never vote for a party that supports gay marriage, for example. I can in all good conscience vote for gay marriage, mostly because I believe fundamentally that Christians are not here to impose their own moral views upon the rest of society. And also this issue certainly isn’t the litmus test for my faith – I think many Christians have a range of views on the issue, and I don’t think any view is a faith deal breaker. Not all Christians think the same way, and I like that. I know and respect many people with a wide range of views and I am happy to engage in dialogue about it – I think that’s right and healthy. But the issues that are important to me as a believer are asylum seekers, indigenous rights, caring for the poor and the environment, corporate greed, and eradicating global poverty.

However, I seem to be in the minority, which is why elections are often difficult from a faith perspective. When churches or organisations start telling people how they should vote based on faith, I think they’ve completely overstepped the mark. When faith leaders start issuing proclamations on what Christians should think about issues, they’re in tricky territory. By all means encourage Christians to think prayerfully and with consideration over whom to vote for – but be aware that once you make a particular view a prerequisite for faith – well, then be prepared for people who don’t share those views to walk away.

I hate what has happened in this election. I hate that the issue of asylum seekers is being used in such an abominable way. I hate that my vote will be based on who I like least, rather than being inspired by a party or person. I am the classic disenfranchised lefty – I could never bring myself for a party that is proud of the fact it will save $25 million a year by denying asylum seekers the basic right of free legal help. But I am sick of how the current government has treated its supporters with such disdain.  

So election day will be a bit depressing, I think.

But oddly, even though having faith makes times like this tricky, it gives comfort also – governments will come and go, but other things – the real, true, important, eternal things – remain. And I guess it’s those things I hold onto.

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15 thoughts on “Election Day blues…

  1. Aunty Rob

    I too am in the same situation as you are – political shenanigans and name-calling are so negative and do not represent the real reason we have the right to vote. What are the policies of both parties? Who knows? Who can understand them when they are mired in personal attacks from both sides of the political arena. I thought we were in a democracy where the people have the right to vote for a “party” that will represent change for the disenfranchised, provide good education for our children, provide proper channels for the asylum seekers to gain a new identity and live in our “lucky country” without prejudice and vilification. Most of the asylum seekers will come to us with a skill that can be utilised for our country and they should not be locked away (jailed) indefinitely away from family and a home! Each vote should represent our personal view of government for the next term of office, whoever gets to be “top dog”. And whoever that may be, he/she should have a conscience for the country, the people and this beautiful land we call home. Leave the “politics” out of the election and vote for a fair and just country for all of us to enjoy.
    I placed my vote yesterday as I will be out of the electorate on Saturday. What a joke when you look at the Senate paper. Looks like all the looney tunes and weirdos have emerged from the woodwork to represent the Australian people. God help us if some of these people actually achieve success and make it into our Parliament and “govern” our country!

  2. janinejackson

    This is so nicely written. I especially liked the line ‘I believe fundamentally that Christians are not here to impose their own moral views upon the rest of society’. That is so very true.

    Like you, I am also jaded with Australian politics. The last few years have been nothing short of preposterous! I dislike both of the major parties so much that I guess I’ll be voting for the Greens again. They don’t offer anything that really impresses me but they also don’t alarm me. As they said on Gruen Nation a few weeks ago, the Greens aren’t a destination brand but more of a default brand for the frustrated!

  3. Rissa

    Thanks posting this! You’ve managed to articulate several of the exact concerns I have – and I really identify with the list of issues that concern you most. I too wish I could vote based on being inspired and hopeful, rather than simply avoiding what I cannot stomach. One day, hopefully, we’ll be writing election pieces with joy and excitement! Rissa

  4. Shirley Symons

    Yes and Amen to all that – post and comments. What I want to know is, is there anyone in politics land who knows that there are more than a few of us out here who actually want a fair, just, compassionate sustainable country. We don’t deny we have to work for financial stability – the question is for what reason?
    Aachi

  5. Aunty Rob

    The other “thing” (for want of a better word) I don’t get is the preferencial vote? I kinow how it works and (try) to understand the reasoning behind it – but I often wonder why??? One vote for one political candidate seems to be common sense. I was disillusioned by the distribution of the preferences as it did not reflect my primary vote for both the House of Reps or the Senate. It makes me think that my vote won’t mean a great deal in the long run. Jaded voter? You betcha.

  6. Nathan Zamprogno

    Oh, Em.

    Yes, we’re on opposite sides of the political fence, but we’ve found ourselves agreeing on a lot over the last few years. I hear your frustration. Former ALP President Barry Jones had a great piece in the SMH this week about the general decline in the quality of political debate in Australia, and sadly this is something both sides of politics are guilty of.

    I’ve taken to repeating a mantra recently to undecided voters: “Competence trumps ideology”. The comment Shirley made above stands as a good reason why. She said “There are more than a few of us out here who actually want a fair, just, compassionate sustainable country”.
    The question is; does anyone actually think that the members or supporters of either mainstream political party *don’t* want that? We quibble about the relative priorities: How much money is fair to support women who want to take time out to be mothers? Are a majority of boat people economic migrants and not genuine refugees? Both sides accept the fact of climate change, but what’s the best mechanism to reach the (identical) target both have set for emissions reduction?
    I think there’s room to reasonably disagree on these questions without concluding that the people on the opposite side are actually aiming to be unfair, or uncompassionate.

    But (ünd zis is a big ‘but’) where you *can* make a judgement that is justifiably condemnatory is on the more basic question of *competence*. And frankly, Labor are incompetent.
    I see the political cycle as being like a big pendulum. We elect parties who spout high-minded ideas, and who (at the time) definitely seem to have the high moral ground. They spend a lot of money, and not wisely, and imperil the country’s ability to *be* generous in the first place. Then, we elect parties derided for their parsimony precisely because we know it’s unsustainable and that some tough love is necessary. I don’t know about you, but my household can be more generous towards others when I have a ‘surplus’ to be generous from.

    Em, you’re definitely one of those high minded true believers who wants ice cream for everyone. But that political pendulum has swung all the way to the point where even such people as yourself should consider a corrective.

    This is why I’m voting Liberal.

    1. souljourneygirl

      Hey Nath. It is certainly true that we find more to agree on than disagree on these days I think! And what I really appreciate about you is that you are not a mindless Liberal voter. What I have noticed over the past few years is that some of our mutual acquaintances 🙂 seem absolutely incapable of being able to disagree with the party of their choice. It’s quite bizarre how they will justify bad policy/stupidity because they seem to have a robot-like mentality of Labor=Bad, Liberal=Good. Strange. I like how you are more than willing to see the faults but make decisions based on what matters to you. However…I have to disagree with a few points. Firstly, I don’t think Labor has been incompetent on all points – some, yes, but not all. I think mostly they have shown disdain for their support base and floundered badly on several policy counts. However I think we came through the GFC fairly unscathed and they pushed through a raft of positive legislation over the past 6 years. Also I don’t know that “competency:” taken alone can be the ultimate point of reference. Competent at what, exactly? You might say a serial killer is competent at his task, but obviously it’s the wrong task at hand. I think there has to a point where competence meets ideology, i think they have to be symbiotic. I’m NOT saying Labor has done this perfectly, but I am questioning the Liberal Party’s ability to deliver this based on what they have said they will and won’t do. I know you don’t mean your comment about ice cream literally, but I actually don’t want ice cream for everyone. What I do want is to see countries like ours go without their second helping of ice cream so that other countries can just have bread. It’s counter-productive to remove foreign aid from countries, restrict refugee intake AND punish asylum seekers all at the same time. It just doesn’t make sense. That’s why, despite the imperfections – and there are plenty – in our current government, I just can’t bring myself to vote for an Opposition who, in my mind, have not positioned themselves as leaders deserving of running the country. That’s not to say my vote won’t ever change though…I just want all sides to get their act together. I know we both share that frustration!

  7. Fin

    Thought I’d catch up with your digital persona – must be missing you. Interesting reading this in the electoral ‘aftermath’! Am really enjoying Don Watson’s Recollections of a Bleeding Heart, have you read it? Can I tempt you by pitching it as Australia’s West Wing? Comparison may not be apt but think you’d appreciate perspectives as a former speechwriter and the Keatingisms make for colourful reading! There’s disfunction and intense (and sometimes brilliant) politicking but there’s also vision and leadership – challenging preconceptions about our history, identity and culture (the Redfern speech, republic debate, our links with Asia) and bringing people along not merely appealing to popular self interest. But only early impressions – am under halfway!

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