Let’s face it. Even Liberal supporters know Abbott isn’t smart enough, charismatic enough and respected enough to become Prime Minister on merit. But alas, it appears this end is upon us. With only two days to go until polling day, I’ve been thinking about the reason why a man so disliked, so unfit for this position, and so genuinely unintelligent is, most likely, going to be Australia’s Prime Minister on Sunday. He’s had everything his way – some of his own doing, others just dumb luck. For crying out loud, he’s going to ride in on the promise that his daughters are good looking. What the fuck is wrong with this country? Here are my thoughts:
Negativity is fashionable
Abbott has been relentlessly negative about the performance of the Labor government for six years. No matter how hard Labor has worked to cut through this negativity, to tell the real story of the success of their government, people don’t want to hear good news. Good news is unfashionable. Woe is me, whinge, bitch, snipe, blame and whine are the new black. Australia has become a nation of ungrateful shits. When Abbott says the economy is a basket-case, every day Australians believe him, and ignore basic facts. When the Labor party says Australia has the best performing economy in the developed world, it would appear voters refuse to hear. It’s a sad state of affairs to say Australians prefer negativity over optimism, but it would appear to be true. This sad state of affairs has been a gold mine for Abbott.
Progressives refuse to unite
If I see another smart-arse political tweeter, commentator, blogger or journalist explain why they just can’t bring themselves to support either party this election, I’m going to scream. Actually, I’ve already screamed. Maybe next time I’ll cry. This pathetic ‘I’m above all this two party-politics stuff’ attitude has been a dream come true for Abbott. The only way he was ever going to lose this election was if progressive voters sucked up their distaste for Kevin Rudd, sucked up their dislike of one or two Labor policies, rose above their need to be ‘up on their moral high horse’ and united with a strong ‘we’re all in this together’ campaign to keep Abbott out. It hasn’t happened. Greens snipe at Labor. Labor snipes back. And amongst all this bickering, dis-united squabbling over how left-wing the government should be, Abbott’s been given a free pass to be as right-wing as he wants.
It’s simple maths really. If the major progressive party with approximately 32-38% of the vote isn’t supported by the minor progressive party with 8-12% of the vote, the major conservative party, who is already in coalition with the minor conservative party is going to win hands down. Why this isn’t obvious to progressive voters, and why many of them are blind to the implicit support they have given Abbott throughout this election campaign, is a mystery to me. Yes, you can preference Labor, but this doesn’t make up for the failure to unite against Abbott. Under the current circumstances, Labor needed your voice, not just your ‘hold your nose’ number two preference. They needed your support, not your constant barrage of criticism. At the very least, Labor needed you to campaign against Abbott, not to campaign against Labor.
Labor’s internal fighting
When I vote, I choose the political policies I want to see implemented or strengthened. But I’ve come to realise, this is not how many people vote. Many people during this election campaign are judging Labor on the strength of the party’s internal coherence and the popularity of the Labor ‘brand’, not on the merits of their political platform. In fact, most of Labor’s key policies are very popular. The NBN. Gonski. The current equitable paid parental leave scheme. Extra funding for child care. Reduced tax for low income earners. The mining tax. Action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change. Economic indiciators the envy of the world. The report card on this front is first-class. However, Labor has distracted from this policy success through internal backstabbing and white-anting throughout the ongoing leadership tensions after Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister in 2010. Yes, the media, and the Liberals played this for everything it was worth, but Labor could have killed it. Had they all wanted to. But they, most notably Rudd, didn’t want to kill it. Sure, he’s more popular than Julia Gillard, but no one will ever be able to prove how popular Gillard might have been had she not been undermined by her own party along with everything else she was up against. I was devastated by the Gillard versus Rudd debacle. This doesn’t mean I won’t passionately support Labor’s policies – they mean as much to me now as they did the day before Gillard lost the leadership. But Abbott’s enjoyed watching on as many voters deserted Labor because of the leadership sideshow that completely overshadowed Labor’s policy success.
An uninformed and unthinking electorate
I hate to sound like an intellectual snob, but seriously how dumb must many voters be to blindly give Abbott their vote without having even an inkling of an idea about his policy details and costings? That’s like buying a car without knowing what price it is! And how dumb must voters be to not have any suspicion about why Abbott refuses to release his costings before the very last minute. Before the advertising black out. Are people expecting a pleasant surprise? I’m disappointed by this stupidity. I thought Australians were better than that. I also thought they would easily equate a campaign by Rupert Murdoch and Gina Rinehart to be only in the best interests of Rupert Murdoch and Gina Rinehart. But no. It would appear many voters think Uncle Rupert and Auntie Gina only have them and their family’s best interests at heart. Seriously dumb. The only thing Murdoch and Rinehart are interested in is their own bank balance. I can’t for the life of me understand why voters don’t recognise this. An uninformed and unthinking electorate is probably the factor that has advantaged Abbott the most. He’s counted on people not thinking. And it’s working in his favour.
Throughout the campaign, Liberal candidates have been instructed to stay silent, they have been barred from attending candidate forums and when a few have slipped through the net and embarrassed the party (think Jayme Diaz), the electorate doesn’t seem at all perturbed. Are we the dumb country? Do we really trust the people who don’t even want to tell us what they’re planning? Are we hoping to be screwed over?
The most blatant pro-candidate media campaign in history
Rupert Murdoch has done a stellar job of promoting Tony Abbott, for which I’m sure Abbott has promised him exactly what he’s asked for – an end to Labor’s NBN. Abbott needed Murdoch on his side, and he needed to avoid even a small amount of scrutiny to get as far as he has. He also needed an uninformed electorate to believe Murdoch’s crap. And even when GetUp came up with this fantastic response to Murdoch’s campaign, the rest of the mainstream media fell into line for Abbott and refused to put it on TV and radio – even though GetUp was paying for the ads. Surely people have to be a little suspicious when struggling media companies are turning down advertising revenue, in support of one of their competitors? I don’t have enough ‘what the fuck’s in me for this situation.
When you look at it all laid out bare like this, Abbott couldn’t lose this election. I would be less upset with Abbott winning, less devastated to have to live in a country with the most embarrassing imbecile of a leader since George W Bush, if Abbott had played fair, and if he didn’t have all these factors in his favour. If people knew what his plans were and really liked his plans, that would be one thing. But for them to be so gladly fooled is just too much for me. And the part progressives have played in Abbott’s victory will just makes things worse. Tony Abbott doesn’t deserve to be Prime Minister of Australia. I thought we were a smart enough country to collectively agree on this fact. But it seems I was wrong.Follow @Vic_Rollison