One of my favourite people [NOT the woman pictured above!] has been a lifelong member of the Labor Party. She likes and stands for their all but abandoned set of values – values that recognise the worth of people regardless of class, and seek to provide people with opportunities they might otherwise not have.
In truth, I am not qualified to quote chapter and verse how the Labor Party itself defines its values, but I doubt I'm the only voter who has just a vague notion of what any party stands for. I also doubt I'm alone in feeling quite disenchanted with what I perceive to be an increasingly undemocratic political system.
I admire and respect A's tenacity and loyalty to the Labor Party. There are many, regardless of their political philosophy, who hold that the best way to change a system is from within that system. Perhaps it is only because of people like A the Labor Party has not lost the plot completely.
It's easier for me to whinge and criticise from the sidelines than put myself through the party mill. I lack the stomach for fighting stacked memberships, or fighting the pursuit of government as an end in itself. It seems less draining and personally self-destructive to lose without a fight than to fight a losing battle.
If this last political cycle has been cynical, negative and devoid of vision, ultimately leaving me devoid of hope, do I only have myself to blame? Do I have any excuse for carping from the sidelines rather than entering the fray?
It might seem to some that my 'reasoning' is a transparently hollow rationalisation, but there is a part of me that resists the notion of total allegiance to ideas not yet formed; ideas that might test my conscience. The offence to offend legislation is probably a good example, or Labor's gutless stand on gay marriage. Oh yes, there is also a little matter of our blind allegiance to
Peter Costello once observed that people join a party because its philosophy is clear, not because of specific policies.
If the Liberal philosophy is all about reward for effort and the sanctity of the price system, about the evils of redistributing income, the Labor philosophy has drifted so far towards the same set of principles that I fail to see the point of Labor at all.
The price system might well be the best available but it is nonetheless flawed. Reward for effort and an incentive to improve oneself are essential to living standards, but the question has become one of who is to be rewarded for effort and who is not.
I don't think it is purely a coincidence that a trucking magnate lives on the
and a freeway –
with no tolls – now extends to where he lives but public transport is deemed
un-necessary. I doubt it's a coincidence that there are plans afoot for a new
commercial port on the peninsula [on the other side from his own backyard]. And
I doubt it's a coincidence that despite the public's preference for spending on
public transport, plans are also afoot to join two freeways no matter how much
damage the plans will do to public parkland and the living standards of those
in the bulldozer's path. Mornington
Examples of this pandering to capital abound. If the reward for effort mechanism is good for the country and its economy, wouldn't it be in everyone's best interest to extend rewards to those with smaller bank accounts?
The best political outcome of the year has been the success of Cathy McGowan in toppling Sophie Mirabella from the seat of Indi. As personally pleasing as the electorate's sacking of Sophie might be, the real victory lies in the way a grass roots campaign was able to effectively do battle with the Liberal Party's national machinery. It's a modern David and Goliath story and, reading the details, a little of my hope has been restored.
Whether Cathy McGowan proves to be someone against gay marriage or for US military might is almost irrelevant. At least she will be answerable to the people who elected her, not some unwieldy and self-serving party machine.
Mirabella was widely criticised for not helping when GetUp! director Simon Sheikh slumped forward on the set of Q&A.
While searching for a[n unbiased] image of Sophie I must confess I cracked up when I saw this:
[To be fair, Sophie was not the only person on set who had no idea what was happening.]