As a reader of The AIMN, you probably fit the profile of a centre to centre-left person more interested in politics than the average Joe Blow. That being the case, you are given over to thinking about how our politics affects not only you but all those who live within our democracy.
This point of this – and my forthcoming article – is that after the dreadfulness of COVID-19 has left us, we would examine what ideas and opportunities will present themselves toward a better system of governance.
If you think our system of governance doesn’t require a makeover, please don’t read any further.
Suppose you are, as I am, a socially progressive democrat: You are sick to death of the destruction that male conservatives in Australia and abroad have done to democracy. Their acquisition of the techniques of narcissism, sexism, intolerance, racism and lying as political tools for purchasing power or its retention has to be regretted.
In that case, you will understand that, in principle, democracy is a political system where like-minded people come together to form ideas that become a philosophy. In the main, they are male dominated, although the opportunity to lesson this burden that democracy carries is upon us.
They then become the foundation of political parties. These ideologies contain many different variants, and more empathise is often accorded one variant to another. Some beliefs are more extreme than others.
The rise of narcissism and inequality and the demise of compassion illustrate the state of Australian politics.
Democracy is far from a perfect system, but it is elastically flexible, unpredictable, and at its worst, violent and highly combative. Our Australian democracy at its best is noble, constructive and generally serves society well. However, after eight years of conservatism, it is undoubtedly in need of a grease and oil change.
That it is superior to the next best thing remains unchallenged. It not only accommodates diagonally opposed ideas but actively encourages them.
All in all, democracy has served us well. In its purest form, it is known as a government for the people by the people.
Common to most Western democracies (and in the absence of anything better), it has an unregulated capitalistic economic system.
In Australia, the right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. We do not, however, vote for who should be the Prime Minister.
The people are free to vote for whichever party (or individual in their electorate) they support. Overriding this, of course, is the fact that people cannot possibly believe in democracy and at the same time think that their party is the only one that should ever win.
A clear indication of an Australian democracy in decline is that people are giving up this voting gift, literally saying: “A pox on both your houses.” In the 2019 Federal Election almost 9 per cent of eligible voters elected not to participate in their democratic right.
Our political system is in crisis because our solicitations fail to clarify issues that concern people.
When a political party deliberately withholds information, the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is governed. It is lying by omission. It is also equivalent to the manipulation of our democracy.
Moreover, an enlightened democracy should involve the people with purposeful participation. Not just ask them to sit in judgement every three years.
We can see the evidence of our democracy in crisis in the quality of those we elect. Kelly, Laming, Christensen, Porter, Taylor, Tudge, Joyce and others should never pass pre-selection. That so few women are elected to Parliament is a travesty and needs to be fixed. The quality and character of leadership have also been so poor that the government has seemed almost indolent and a serious concern.
Any system of government that primarily exists for self-interest or to serve secular interests. One that is overly influenced by an elite of business leaders, religious leaders, politicians and media interests who have the power to enforce their version of the democratic process is not a democracy. It is fundamentally anti-democratic.
Conservatives worldwide have gone down the path of inequality with a born-to-rule mentality favouring the rich.
These words Tim Dunlop’s article from 2014; “The right hates the society it has created” still resonate today:
“The whole logic of the ‘lifters’ and ‘leaners’ rhetoric so favoured by the current Government is a distillation of the idea that there is no such thing as society. That we and only we are responsible for our circumstances.”
Over the past eight years, conservatives in Australia have wrecked institutions and conventions that have existed for many years. So bad has their governance been that it would be best described as some variance of Fascism where big business, supportive media and religion dominate our everyday lives.
The common good should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than on the right.
It has to change before we sink in a quagmire of American Tea Party Republicanism.
Next time: What needs to be fixed.
My thought for the day
I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have a hate on their lips, and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile.
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