All too often I see and hear people who could not care less about the political aspect of life or the events of the world beyond their experiences. I do not necessarily begrudge these people, for many are my friends and I can see why certain things are considered ‘boring’ or of relatively little interest. But there comes a point where this lack of knowledge becomes troubling. Some people are unable to explain or understand simple things like how parties work (or even what parties there are) or how the voting system works (good, profanity filled video here on that). I do not begrudge these people, but the complacency is dangerous in our current world.
One friend of mine, who you could have called a swing voter in 2016, has now become a stalwart fan of the Labor Party. Our political conversations in the past mostly consisted of me slowly losing my voice, admittedly, monologuing about what I knew and why I perceived it to be right. These days, I don’t even have to initiate a political chat – he will, out of the blue, throw a curveball question about whether I saw a particular thing in the news, and has become a decent judge of our political system.
Another friend, who knows little about politics but is eager to do a bit of research before elections (part of which is a trust in me, as we have relatively aligned views on most topics), is in the middle. She’ll ask my opinion, take some time to look at some resources online herself, and come to a conclusion. While I am more than happy to express my opinions, one should always encourage individual thought – question everything, if at least for the academic exercise of consolidating arguments for your views.
A third friend is the mildly troubling one – again, however, not blaming her for being disinterested in political matters. But not remembering the party names (she knows green, red, and blue – blue are bad, she will tell you) and basing your vote off the opinions and suggestions of a couple of friends is not the level of analysis one should have going into an election. As with my friends above, her views generally align with mine, in the context of preferring Greens and Labor policies over Coalition policies, but while some would see shaping a friend’s vote as a ‘win’, the complacency behind it is concerning.
It is all well and good if you trust someone to give you beneficial information, but as the seemingly baffling support given to the Coalition will tell you, many seem to just vote without thinking. Already in early voting, I have heard stories of people donkey voting, placing both major parties last in some ill-informed protest of ‘two evils’ (nice going if you instead voted 1 UAP or whatever), and even of an elderly man, irritated on the phone, asking someone to ‘just tell [him] the damn boxes to number’ because he didn’t care.
I consider it a duty for all people eligible to vote to have some degree of knowledge about what it is they are voting for in all elections. It is the awkward truth that many people I’ve seen voting LNP are only doing so for superficial reasons; either their parents or partners vote that that way, or they like/dislike a party based on surface level issues like who has a better face or name. As testament to our education system, as Friendlyjordies put it in his “Friendly with Jordies” video, when a group of 15 year old kids were asked who the Prime Minister was, one said they didn’t know because it “changed every week”, and another said “is it faggot?!” – Comedy. Gold.
But it leaves us in a dangerous position. If all of these people are unaware of what they are voting for, then it is almost certain that they are voting against their interests. Someone relying on Medicare is sabotaging themselves if they vote for the LNP; a tradie who votes LNP obviously does not know how TAFE course and apprenticeships are being affected by the current government, or how WH&S regulations are being broken with the ABCC.
So by all means, vote for who you wish – just make sure that your vote is based on some degree of knowledge that you have researched and gotten honest opinions about. As always, I’ll promote the Greens and Labor, but will also encourage people to question the policies of those parties. It’s entirely possible that you may just end up agreeing with them, particularly, one would hope, on climate change.
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