The last few years have highlighted just how little control most Westerners have over their governments. There are plenty of examples in the past though, most notably with immigration where governments either ignore popular opinion or pay lip service to it with token gestures that do nothing to halt the influx. For the “citation needed” crowd, just go and look how popular increased immigration was in Britain before ignoring popular opinion, relentless propaganda, lawfare and eventual demographic changes made it permanent. I’d be you could choose almost any nation and get a similar sample. For Australia, you could also consider that the government has repeatedly refused a popular plebiscite on the issue. Something I doubt would have happened if they didn’t have good knowledge of what the result would be and that they would also be compelled to act on it. For another minor example, you could observe that the Australian government seems far more concerned with following international law than our own.
Although most still see the system as one that works, I’ve now long been disenchanted with it. And I used to be someone that believed wasting your vote was wrong because it really did matter. I believed that the system worked and that politicians genuinely (for the most part), followed the will of the people. The last time I remember thinking it did work was in 2007 when Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister. He faced John Howard who had been in power for over a decade. I did not like Kevin Rudd then and do not now. I don’t now think much of John Howard either. At the time though, it seemed to me like a genuine political contest decided by real Australians. In short, it was the last election that seemed legitimate even though the side I then preferred lost.
Knowing what I know now about just how corrupt the whole game is and that it has long been so, I am not looking at this as a lost reality but a past fantasy. The elections that have followed since have seen five different Prime Ministers in less than a decade compared to three for almost a quarter century before that. This has made it much easier to see the system for what it was and the mask has fallen further since.
In 2007, both candidates fought on issues that were of genuine concern to Australians. They were both respectful of each other and magnanimous and polite in victory or defeat. There was of course plenty of gloating, booing and other behaviour from the rabble but this will always be the case. The important point was there was no sense that it was a contest not decided by an Australian majority in a fair contest.
At the moment we have a nominally conservative government of the side that in 2007, I would have associated closely with. I was not then and never have been party political but I certainly preferred the major conservative party at the time. Today, it really doesn’t seem to matter. I am left to wonder if things could be any worse if the other mob was in charge? Probably, but I’m mostly at the point where I like the idea of accelerating the rot and decline so it can hopefully be better for my children. I would have previously considered this foolish.
Even at the state level things are no better and these leaders seem to answer to someone else. Consider that almost every one (regardless of the party in charge), has pursued legislation to decriminalise abortion and now euthanasia. This would have been unthinkable in 2007 when both party leaders were professing Christians and Rudd was if anything, more openly religious than the more culturally-Chrisitan Howard. The current Prime Minister Scott Morrison is supposedly a Christian only ever offers the most feeble defences of these beliefs.
The point, if I have one, is just how incredible the contrast between politics today and fifteen years ago is. A lot of the same politicians are still in government including the two current major party leaders, so this is not a generational issue. Yet with the same sort of people and in a short passage of time, we have a complete shift and one party in particular has almost nakedly abandoned a dwindling but significant portion of their base. Yet as weak as their principles are, they still provoke the hatred they would if they really did have any.
As has been repeated over and over again, there is no change to be found at the ballot box and really, there probably never was. If I could now look with quiet nostalgia on an election result I found unfavourable little over a decade ago, the elections matter very little.