I was talking on the phone to my brother the other day and, included amongst the trivia that expands our conversations; the state of Dad’s health, child pornography, our travel plans (he’s going to Europe via the Trans Siberian railway next year, I’m following the Silk Road to Kashgar) the subject of the election was inevitably raised.
Despite being in his late 50’s, my sibling (who will remain nameless in case some one dobs him in) has never voted for any kind of Government, local, state or federal. He joined the navy at 15 and for a variety of reasons, service during the Vietnam war, extended training in the US and almost continous sea duty for more than 12 years, never got around to being added to an electoral role. If asked why he has never done his duty as a voter his reasons include a general distrust of all politicians of any persuasion, a feeling that compulsory voting in a democracy is oxymoronic and a vague feeling that the whole process is a waste of time and taxpayer’s money.
While I agree with him in theory, I think the real reason he doesn’t vote is gross apathy.
I must admit that not having to make a decision is more appealing this time around than it has been for some years. I just can’t get interested much any more. I used to get outraged at some of the antics performed by politicians, but now I just smile wryly and have another beer.
A term that has hardly ever been used during this election is “apathetic”. I know that I have suffered a near terminal dose of apathy this time, probably the reason why I have not added much to the comments, largely because I feel powerless to influence the election, as though no matter what I think or say or do, the political juggernaut will roll on regardless, making my vote a mockery of democracy.
In a comment to Scott’s post Don Wigan asks;
Ken, as a Darwinian you may be able to answer this for me. Solomon is among the marginals Newspoll predicts to remain with the coalition. My impression from afar is that the incumbent’s antics would just about put him out of the race, especially that one about his dog. I know the NT is notorious for pollies making berks of themselves and still winning, but I expect this guy is beyond redemption. What’s yours and local feeling on him? If you think he’s gone, what does it say about Newspoll?
Before he was elected to the seat of Solomon; Dave was the local Australian Retirement Fund (generic superannuation) manager. A likable boofhead who smoked, drank (sometimes to excess) and played sport. It came as a surprise that he was elected. Prior to 2000 the NT only had one seat and that was the property of Labor’s Warren Snowden; his winning was a lay down misere (you know, that thing in the card game). After an electoral redistribution a new seat of Solomon was created which covers the Darwin suburbs with the rest of the Territory being left to the redoubtable ‘Wazza’ .
Tollner only won (by 88 votes) because the local ALP apparatchicks made the huge error of preselecting an unknown lady lawyer instead of a popular ABC sports announcer. And they wonder why any sensible person won’t join the party ! The last three years have been a farce of Territorian proportions, starting on election day when Dave forgot to enrol for the seat of Solomon, meaning he couldn’t vote for himself; progressing through a series of less than flattering drunken brawls in Canberra restaurants, shouting at the Qantas staff who refused to serve him more booze, culminating in his dog severely mauling a passer-by in the street. The only thing missing was an attempt to strangle a journalist with his microphone cord.
It seems that no matter how bad the incumbent, how poorly he represents the electorate, what the political masters in Canberra think (how could they not be severely embarrassed ?), the disaster continues. And therin lies the major problem for the majority of the electorate and is probably the real reason behind why my brother doesn’t vote.
While the political system is ruled by ‘pork’, policy determined by continuous polling and party officials cynically re-appoint ‘anointed’ candidates, is it any wonder that your average punter is cynical and apathetic.
I suspect that the example of “for whom the bell tollners” could be applied to a significant number of electorates around the country. This feeling was reinforced by watching ‘The Chaser Decides” last night where they showed a series of people making inane remarks about the election accompanied by the caption “THIS PERSON VOTES”.
Well that’s my one and only election post, I’m off to vote informal tomorrow.