September 5, 2013

Rachael Ward

As someone once said, ‘evil flourishes when good men and women do nothing’. This is especially true when evil is voted in to parliament.

In May of this year a man who likened disabled children to deformed lambs that “should be put down because they cost too much money” was re-elected to his local council. This didn’t happen in a far-away, war-torn religious dictator ship; Colin Brewer was elected to a council in Cornwall, England, in 2013.

We’re no strangers to offensive comments in Australia, Public Figure Eddie McGuire’s “Slip of the tongue” comments likening Adam Goodes to King Kong, just days after he was labelled an “Ape” by an AFL spectator, caused a media storm. But Eddie is a good bloke, you know, so we’ll publicly chastise him but ultimately let him get on with life.


It got me thinking, do we condone and separate a person’s personality and their actions, depending in the context in which we know them? And what happens when the offending person does other good things – do we move on, or hold the to account?

A key feature of societies like ours is the right to free speech. We value this because it enables us to develop and share our own ideas. At the same time, free speech can allow intolerance to flourish – and be voted in to government.

But this doesn’t mean we have to tolerate it in our daily lives, no matter how much we like or accept the perpetrator’s personality. And we certainly don’t have to ignore or ‘forget’ offensive statements our politicians make this election campaign, or what they’ve said in the past.

I understand Politicians are under a lot of stress and constant pressure from the media, in part due to the constant over-analysation of every word they say, but often ‘hot seat’ situations reveal a lot about a person’s character, like they did for Colin Brewer.

So in this election campaign, let’s not just ignore every ‘gaffe’ or outrageous statement a politician has made. Undoubtedly, voting should be about a party’s policy agenda and performance, but what happens when major parties seemingly have the same stance on the issues important to you, like Asylum seekers? Then what are you meant to do?

So here’s someone, a first-time voter, suggesting that if you’re not all that bothered about finding out about party’s policies, you should really think about the individual performance of the people in the party and decide your vote according to that.

I’m not saying it’s a good way of choosing who you vote for, but it’s a hell of a lot better than doing a donkey vote or drawing a picture on the voting card.

Other reasons not to vote for a specific political party include:

  • That is the way your parents vote
  • You follow the party’s leader on twitter
  • Your fav newspaper like them better than the competition
  • You like the name of the party
  • They have hot children

If you don’t like the people in politics that’s okay – no one else really does, either. But it’s always better to choose between the lesser of two evils (or vote for a minority party) than let someone else do that for you.

Don’t let the official leader of our country be someone who says things that are offensive to you, because we won’t hear the end of it for at least three years.

– Rachael Ward

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