The Heart of Politics

In the strangest of dreams, a nocturnal avatar visited Throsby's REM trance the other night. 

She lectures in politics – plus some other incidentals now lost to memory fade.

Still vivid thought, her face, voice, and gestures disclosed a truth that only a mocking subconscious could concoct from that quirky depth. The hallucinated visitor explained in a voice crisply intoned:

There is no exact word for politics in my language. But we have a phrase for politics that translates to English: “The heart of the manure.”

I jest not. The moment was lucidly dreamt.

Don’t Look Before You Vote

Persisting through #AusPol 2017, a combined voting intention of Australians held that 53% (two-party preferred) would select a Labor candidate should an election occur.

Yet two recent by-election results – Barnaby Joyce in New England and John Alexander in Bennelong – cast doubt government would change.

Throsby doubts that doubt.

Gunna Joyce land-slid back into office, but lacked a high-profile opponent. His electorate – disdainful of southerners and predisposed to an independent State of New England – were plainly offended having to reaffirm their baby-kisser of choice because some glitch in the constitution was maddeningly reaffirmed by a High Court incapable of bending law, as country folk expect their friendly local member should.

Tennis Elbow Alexander also romped in, but it’s more complicated. The large Chinese expat contingent of his Sydney suburban electorate should have, according to myth, favoured Labor’s bright red good luck T-shirts at the very least. They also ought been disturbed by the government’s “China-bashing” campaign directed at the Dastyari donations clusterfork. One might counter this surmise by walking a mile in their sandals to discover little love lost for a motherland regime from which they are presumably here to avoid and forget.

But why, pondering more broadly, did the purported sins of the Coalition LNP government (since the Mad Monk took reign and was abruptly turfed by Leather-top Turnbull) not ensure our two constitutional illiterates were by-elected into oblivion?

Even an objective observer of Australian politics (am I not ever thus?) would colour the government benches as a thuggish mix of opportunistic miscreants who vandalise infrastructure projects into lost decades, wield misanthropic neoliberalism so clumsily it dragged social and economic progress back to the pre-Hawke era, and wave Hillsong crucifixes at the largely irreligious electorate with impunity?

But no matter how extensive the list of Coalition missteps (broadband, marriage equality, union-bashing, renewables hysteria, energy inaction, gas “shortage,” company tax cuts, banking enquiry, climate change, middle east wars, offshore detention camps, penalty rate cuts, Centrelink robo-debt, welfare cards, declining wages…) a majority of voters seems blithely indifferent.

Polling shows both for this year and 2018 that if voters feel their personal fortunes proceed swimmingly, he and she will ignore any amount of malevolent behaviour from their government – and happily return them term after term despite persistent damage to the nation and ultimately their own welfare through endlessly expedient or self-serving behaviour directed by an ideology that can generously be described as the opposite of nation-building.

Throsby suspects that most voters would not switch sides even were their favoured political party to ceremoniously burn that voter’s house down, right before their unseeing rusted-on eyes – Liberal, National, Green, PHON, or Labor.

And that is the great, eternal, agonising crux of politics: the lazy uninformed citizen of democracy.

As the famous pie chart of the 2016 US election explains: 63 million voted Trump, 66 million voted Clinton, while 71 million people didn’t give a shit.

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