If you don’t love it…breathe

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There has been much ink split about this t-shirt which was pulled from a Cairns Woolworths, both 2GB shock jock Ray Hadley and Clive Palmer party Jacqui Lambie came out in support of it staying on shelves.

Many times have I been in a traffic jam behind a Ute or 4WD with bumper bar covered in the bogan holy trinity:  ‘I fish and I vote’ or “Fuck off we’re full’ and ‘If you don’t love it LEAVE’

The slogan is an effective piece of propaganda, as good as ‘Loose lips sink ships’ or ‘Keep calm and carry on”. The slogan condenses larger complex issues into a smaller and easy to digest bundle. It is intentionally vague, the sort of people who wear it have a particular message they want to send to new immigrants to this country. It is intimidating, aggressive but in its vagueness a little bizarre.

It attempts to appeal to the reader’s raw emotional state, asking you to love your country or leave it, an all or nothing scenario. Australia takes out the position of someone you are in a relationship with and you have any doubts about that person, then its over.

Every time I see the slogan I get a little angry: Why is this bumper sticker even threatening me anyways? Maybe I don’t love parts of Australia maybe I think parts of Australia are a total shithole, isn’t Australia a free place, why can’t I not love it sometimes?

Where does forcing someone to love something become what is to be Australian? I was under the impression the moment the convicts landed they were sitting around bitching about being sent to a hot, dry island full of insects and reptiles that bite and kill, forced to carve out some kind of meager existence from what was then a very harsh landscape.

When you love something you nurture and look after it, cherish it, wrap it up in cotton wool. How does cutting down thousands of hectares of native bush-land, wiping out flora and fauna, digging massive holes in the ground for mineral resources and killing aboriginal people, destroying thousands of years worth of culture fit in to loving your country.

Why do the very vocal spruikers of this slogan feel it is their personal responsibility to remind people how much everyone should love this country?

It should read “If you don’t love it, Breathe” just chill out a bit-nobody has to love every bit of their country! Have a beer, go for a surf; enjoy life!

 

Typical excuses for being dumb about politics

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I have just trudged through a state by-election, in Newcastle. I discovered that many people are totally apathetic about politics, many act like anyone who is holding a political pamphlet just came down with a case of ebola. After a while I began to hear all the same old tired excuses from voters, there wasn’t much behind how they felt just a thin veneer of an opinion.

The most common excuses I heard include:

1. They are all the same as each other, why bother

The crying call of the apathetic voter, they are right but in only a superficial way. Pry further and discover that these voters don’t know the difference between left and right politics, nor any of the major issues, party policies or why exactly they feel this way.

Often I feel as if they have overheard someone they know in a conversation who was exasperated with politics and felt like giving up, and just took on that opinion without ever actually having to form an opinion of their own.

2. This is a safe seat, my vote won’t count or make any difference so why bother

It’s just a monumentally stupid opinion, but many have it, the idea that their vote won’t count because the seat is held by the same party every year, they usually see minor parties as a ‘wasted vote’.

They seem to express it in a Marvin the robot type way, the world, democracy everything is a giant effort to take part in, and they can’t be bothered.

I am not sure how these people end up voting, maybe they pick the party opposite or put in a informal vote, either way the idea that their vote doesn’t count just astounds me:- if they have a problem with the party that keeps winning that seat, show it by voting for someone else, isn’t it obvious?

3. If I vote for party (a) then that will bring more money to our city, because we always vote in party (b)

So that’s all you care about, a bit of pork barreling for your area?

This is similar to 2, but held by a different sort of person; usually it’s a contrary conservative, who is bitter that the left always wins their seat.

These people have this odd idea that swinging seats bring in all the goods for that seat, they think by gaming it they can change their city or state.

However imagine if every voter thinks they live in a ‘safe‘ seat and starts voting like this, does every safe seat get extra funding?  The outcome is that instead of one or two screaming children asking for money there will be many and not enough to feed them all.

But come to think of it, when you vote like this you get exactly what you asked for: candidates that only care about money, so don’t be surprised when they have to resign for accepting bribes off developers.

Hell if Adolf Hitler was the candidate and threw a bit of money around I am pretty sure these people would of voted for him.

4. I am not qualified to vote, I don’t know enough

This is the domain of younger timid people, mostly quite intelligent they seem to have the Russell Brand disdain to voting, they have this opinion and don’t even vote at all.

Funnily their opinion is educated, they are being modest. However we are not living in the age of modesty just take a look around.

People who you don’t like and are way dumber and ignorant than you are having their voice heard…you are WAY smarter than them…so just vote, you don’t need a degree in politics to take part in the system.

5. I don’t know anything about politics, help!!!

This is similar to ‘I am not qualified to vote ‘ but just slightly different and is representative of a huge chunk of the population who seem to want to care but have literally no connection to politics in their life.

This opinion reminds me of people at university who should of studied the night before a big test, but couldn’t be arsed and start whinging just hours before the exam.

The papers are packed full of information for you before elections, you have the internet and there is basically no excuse why you don’t have any idea, just put in a little bit of time and read the paper watch television and pick a party that best represents how you feel about the world.

6. I don’t care, I don’t vote …go away

A surprising number of people are like this, and are proud of it, the question is can they afford to be.

These people are not Russel brand, they are not writing an anarchist manifesto, they are not planning to pull democracy apart and replace it with something better, nor have they had anything taken away from them to force them to rethink their position. They treat election day as a chore, and electioneers as spam and a giant pain in the arse.

They just, don’t care, that’s it, but here lies the existential question of democracy in your right NOT to care, you are extinguishing your right to care and potentially you will be told what to care about and you will have no say in it.

These people concern me the most, the  more of these the more chance we have of heading into an idiocracy or worse.

 

Some kind of political poker game

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As we sat down at the table the secretary very carefully gave us all a glass of water. Tim Owen tall and lanky of stature shook all of our hands and then sat down.

He wore a red checkered collared shirt very clean and crisp with the sleeves blue checkered, the shirt was odd looking, it had a country road feel,  a ‘I like walking along the beach with a jumper tied around my neck’ Look.

He splayed out on his chair and did something that gave me a start, he stretched his lanky long legs right out underneath the small table so that his feet where sitting literally below our legs, as he did this he put his hands on the desk and tapped them a little as if to say ‘man I am so relaxed here, I am almost asleep’

His wrinkled face looked cautious and had an almost Clint Eastwood squint as he surveyed each of us, in our reflective uniforms. We all stared back with hard intent like this was some kind of political poker game.

Our goal was to explain to Tim Owen (Newcastle’s state Liberal member) about two large factories in the Newcastle area that are about to shut their doors due to lack of government contracts.

He seemed somewhat disinterested as the AMWU workers went into detail about possible plans for future work, he knew nothing of the potential closure of these factories and was somewhat despondent while all the time giving an air that he deeply concerned for our plight.

He frowned sometimes and said ‘Now that we are in power you have to work with us’ in a way that seemed rehearsed or that he had overheard it somewhere else repeating it without much confidence.

He gave a slight impression that he was enjoying that we had to come to him to seriously ask for help, it made him feel important or that he actually could ‘do’ something.

During the meeting I broke in and said that I was frustrated that the government was unable to supply any consistent work, and he could potentially loose some votes if people loose their jobs.

He looked at us all in a kind of uncomfortable manner and said that we would all vote Labor anyways and laughed, quick stares darted around the room this was now getting a little odd.

He told us he would help and seemed almost disappointed that the meeting was over, I was last to leave and he shook my hand, he gripped it very tight as if to say ‘I’m tough’.

Afterwards we all talked for a while about the meeting, I felt a little depressed, the politics of Tim Owen seemed so fragile, so disconnected.

It’s not easy being Green

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I find it very hard to come out and say that I support the Greens, it’s not that I am ashamed or that I am not sure of what political party to choose. I probably more sure than ever before the advent of vote compass that the Greens is the party that has the policy and leadership I most adhere to.

The thing that makes me fearful of admitting my green political leanings is the response that others have to the Greens. I rarely hide being a Green, but every time I do come out and talk about my support for this party I just am faced by the oddest reactions by those around me.

I work around plenty of tradesmen many of these men (mostly men) like to think of themselves as tough ordinary blokes who support a fair go. The political opinions with those I have worked with come in three types.

The passionately conservative, the unionised labor ‘workers’ and the totally apathetic. The first camp are so opposed to the Greens party it has become part of their genomes, mainly they think that I am just a little misguided and spend plenty of time trying to ‘point out the error of my ways’.

Mostly I find it very difficult to get these people to admit they are actually conservative, I guess it’s a conservative trait to not want to admit that you are totally conservative. (Is that a kind of paradox?) Once the conservatives come to the realisation that I really do support the Greens and I am not just misguided, I get the same kind of reaction I would if I were in the Taliban.

The unionised Labor supporters tend to illicit a similar response as the conservatives with the exception that they are actually a little bit more educated about the Greens and realise their policies are very similar to Labors. There is a deep distrust of the Greens and they often bring up fishing laws and other forestry issues and label them as extremists. Many of this group worry that the Greens will take all their jobs away by opposing coal mining.

The last group the apathetic are surprisingly high in number, they usually start a political conversation with ‘Whats the point both party is as bad as each other’,  they have a sort of Marvin the Robot attitude to politics. Many have very conservative opinions but are deeply distrustful of all politicians. These people are the swinging voters of Australia and the ones that can change an outcome in an election. What is scary about this group is they often cling onto a rather small and insignificant issue and vote on that not knowing or caring the impact their decision causes.

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All three groups dislike the Greens and they often ask me if I am about to climb up a tree or stand in front of a bulldozer, but mostly they refuse to admit that the Greens are a political force at all.

Maybe I am just very unlucky to be working around these kind of people, there are other Greens voters but they are like small underground rodents in hiding and very difficult to find.

It would be nice if people understood that the Greens are not blowflies, the Greens is a global movement and is slowly gathering strength. Germany had a Greens coalition and was in Government in Germany from 1998 to 2005. (hardly a fringe party). The Greens poll at around 3-7% of the vote in Australia, not huge amount but they roughly get about 3 or 4 seats every election, when you watch an election most electorates have a little green bar.

It isn’t easy being Green and Green supporters are forced to grow a thick skin to take all this garbage people throw at them, and I think this only makes the Greens and Greens supporters stronger.

Be seen be Green!

http://www.greens.org.au/