For those puzzled about how the Morrison government won the election, I think our confusion is based on a flawed assumption of who we are as a nation.
If there’s a lesson to be taken from tonight, it’s that we don’t know who are neighbours are. The problem is that we think we do. The benefit of our curated existence, where we control the flow of information we receive, is that it allows one to paint in the hues of assumption. Because you surround yourself with people who agree with you, you tend to believe that everyone is voting the same way.
The soap-box bubble of Twitter is the greatest example of this. For the most part, they carry what the MSM doesn’t, it is uniformly left, because the media is uniformly right. It is easy to get retweets and clicks, as long as you oppose the government. It gives you the illusion of power, or movement, as everyone is saying the same. Clearly, abetted by the (now nefarious) exit poll, the mood was one of coronation, which quickly turned into something akin to a funeral where the starring corpse passed gas and shattered the assumptions those present had of how the event would progress. Straws were quickly clutched, as Twitter clung to the massive pile of uncounted pre-poll votes in a dusty room somewhere marked ‘Labor’.
What we’re left with, is confusion. Many are puzzled about how the LNP carried Queensland, offering a middle finger to the face of climate change, race politics, mining the entirety of the state, and perhaps greater logic; we’re left wondering why. Queenslanders returned Peter Dutton, and even George Christensen (via a massive shift), who spent most of the sitting year doing god knows what in the Philippines on our dime. Even Clive Palmer was spotted on holiday in Fiji in the week before the election, and it mattered not one jot.
Why? Well, the short answer is that we didn’t bother to find out things beyond our circle. As Penny Wong said on numerous occasions during the ABC broadcast that Labor understood that Queensland would be difficult to return. I didn’t know that, because I didn’t bother to ask. As it turns out, the man who evoked Fatman Scoop as an election platform and/or a vague promise of what Australia is (without articulating what that is exactly) was the best possible candidate for the majority of us.
The people we need to blame, is us. We freely elected that dude. Yes, why some of us didn’t, clearly enough of us did.
We find ourselves at a pivot point, not in policy so much, but in our subjective view of the nation. It’s fair to say that it has been a long time coming, where the empathetic national stereotype has been slowly eroded by offshore detention, the marriage equality vote, and the nonsense voices in parliament, be it Pauline’s burqa or Bob Katter’s fight against crocodiles. We laughed at those people (or shook our fists at them) online, but clearly, our criticism didn’t reflect the country as a joined mass.
Who we are, is the reverse of what our entitlement puts forth. We, fundamentally, look out for number one. All else is the sea. It’s something we don’t like to admit, but it is something that we should recognise.
Clearly, we’re a nervous nation. Fear, simplicity and mediocrity clearly move us. The problem, I believe, was not so much Bill Shorten’s crusade against the ‘top end of town’ or to safeguard us against the climate apocalypse that is coming (which it is), I think he fell victim because we stood for something. Obviously, he tried to play the middle as well as implementing his own policies, but I believe it runs deeper than that. The central tenet of the Morrison campaign was laughing at Bill Shorten.
As Barrie Cassidy mused, the reason why Scott Morrison won was the shifting nature of political campaigning, as he believes that “…you can’t speak about your plans without scaring people”, which is absolutely true, which leaves us a country scared of our own shadow. If there’s one thing we fear, most of all, is change. The scare campaign will always work in this country, and our partisan delusion plays into that. The Morrison won on a campaign based on a (fictional) ‘death tax’, the fear of the electric car, and indeed, the shady mysterious forces that will steal our Tim Tams if we let them. The next campaign will be warring smear campaigns, completely bereft of hope or ambition. Hope, after all, has proven not to work.
We’re now neck deep in the mud of nonsense and division, and it’s fair to say that we have some growing to do as a nation. The first step is to recognise who we actually are.