Sunday, May 19, 2019

Negativity, Politicians, and Elections

I shed a tear this morning. Sat down, took some time to compose myself, and then got up again. This wasn't because I woke to learn that the 2019 Australian Federal Election had been decided, rather the tears were at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza; the location from which Harvey Lee Oswald assassinated JFK.

60 years on from Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign we see a merry-go-round of campaigns that we all know are missing something. The truth. Clear policy. Visionary leadership. All of these things have fallen victim to human nature's thirst for the sugar rush of the evil trinity of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. These three are often capped off with personal attacks on the opposition.

Turning back to Australia what do we see?
  • A country that believes itself to be built on a "fair go" (for American readers - note here the contrast between the American belief in free and the Australian belief in fair)
  • A country with a democratic system that includes mandatory voting (I will write more on this in the months to come)
  • A country about to receive its 6th Prime Minister in 9 years; only 2 of which came from democratic election

So why is it that my notes in the book at the JFK museum bemoan an event that took choice of leadership away from the people, and replaced with a choice made by an individual (acting alone or otherwise), yet we collectively appear to lose sight of the simple but powerful mechanism of electing our own leader.

To those of you unhappy with the election outcome, consider the following two points:

1. We, the people, elected the leader of the country.

2. Income inequality isn't anywhere near as bad as you think.

(a) Life at the bottom end of the economy has steadily improved under both sides of politics (lowest quintile shown below, adjusted for CPI):

Source: ABS 65230DO001_201516
(b) The gap between rich and poor isn't anywhere near as bad as you think.  Even The Conversation say so; and the Gini co-efficient shows Australia in the middle of the OECD pack.

Source: Treasury Australia

The Future

I dream for a future that includes positive politics. A future that includes politicians brave enough to accept criticism of their weaknesses. A future in which we build on strengths, rather than attacking weakness. A future that is not merely a dream, but a reality.

Who creates this future? We do. No longer shall we say we want, but vote against what scares us. No longer shall we complain about micro-parties and preference deals, but not bother to take the time to know who we're voting for. No longer shall we allow a dream of utopia to lead us to dystopian government.

From today, we are grateful for what we have, that we have elected our leaders, that on almost every measure our lives, and those of others around us, have improved.

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