Hi Australia. You voted this past Saturday. And the result wasn’t what the opinion polls indicated it would be. There are a lot of crestfallen people hanging around today, a lot of flat out fury at ScoMo’s win and a lot of hyperbole on the internet about racism, fear and various types of discrimination that may now be possible because of the election result. But I just want to say a few things to hopefully ease that feeling of disappointment and apprehension. I get the fear, I do. I’m disappointed too. But I want to encourage you – it’s not likely to be as bad as all that. Because frankly, I don’t believe our PM is a narcissistic megalomaniac like Trump. So there’s that. But that’s only one sorta-kinda comfort that can be found.
The fact is that our government doesn’t define who we are. It doesn’t define how we act (within the bounds of law, obviously). It doesn’t remove our voice. It makes it more important to be smart though, not just voicing your opinion on social media but voicing it to your local Member of Parliament, doing your research via credible sources and not falling for or spreading false information.
In amongst the elected are a lot of good people. My local guy, Darren Chester, is one such person. I have no doubt he will fight for what matters. So go direct. Contact him. Contact his colleagues. Contact your local Member of Parliament about the issues that matter to you. Don’t let Facebook be your only activism, because even though we are almost programmed to think a well-worded update on social media will effect change, it rarely (if ever) does.
While so many of my millennial peers nurse disappointment after Saturday, I feel like its a good time to reflect on the fact that democracy isn’t limited to election day. Democracy is when you write letters to your local MP or drop into their office. It’s when you organise, form communities around an issue or a cause, petition, protest, join a party and make your voice heard. You might have to knock on a few doors but there will always be ears that listen. These days, it’s easy to let the reasonable, kind, conscientious members of our State and Federal Parliaments take a back seat in our minds when compared with their more extreme counterparts, but they are indeed there. Over the next three years, and forever after, we need to find them. Pester them. Befriend them. You’d be surprised how much participation is welcome.
To those who think God requires a certain vote from us, I’d like to challenge you to look further. God has no party membership. If He were us, I’m sure He would judge each MP by their actions, their statements, their voting records, and not by which party they sign up for. I was chatting to a dear friend on Saturday night and she said something to me that resonated so hard. She said, “My biggest fear is that I become so passionate that I become ignorant.”
“My biggest fear is that I become so passionate that I become ignorant.”
That, right there, matters. We can become so blinded by who we think represents our values in parliament that we actually don’t watch to see if their actions line up. That is a problem that can only be solved by watching what unfolds in the public sphere and avoiding temptation to be a fanboy/fangirl.
I know good Liberals. I know of dodgy ones. I know good Nationals. I have met those who have fallen from grace, but who I would still struggle to call “bad” and yes, I know the dodgy ones too. I know some incredible members of the Labor party. I have no doubt they have their own kind of crazy in their ranks too. Parliament, Political Parties – they’re just like churches and communities in that they are a mixed bag with some wonderful and some weird all mixed in. Find the good. Support them. Get behind your cause. Don’t be discouraged.
Next time Clive Palmer won’t likely spend $80 million on advertising that effectively scoops up the disillusioned L/NP voters only to funnel them straight back to those parties in preferences – all for the sake of coal. You know?
The next election will be different. In the mean time, I hope that we have a stable government for the first time in 12 years. I hope ScoMo manages to chart the middle ground and lead reasonably, putting to rest the faction wars. And I hope that my millennial peers do what I know they can do, and show the world what smart, empathetic, forward thinking people we are and that we are non-judgemental (even when it comes to people who are judgemental to us). Thats what the world needs.
Lets be what it needs. Let’s lead by example.