A few years ago I took a 20 hour train ride from Penn Station in New York to Jacksonville in Florida. Rather than fly, I chose to take the train so I could see something of what was happening in the countryside and perhaps engage with local people.
By chance, I had a seat next to an African American woman of a similar age to me, who was travelling to Florida to visit her grandchildren. In the course of discussion I asked whether she would be voting in the coming (2016) election. Her reply was emphatic: “Never missed! The right to vote has been too hard won!”
Would that more Australians under compulsory voting took the right, privilege and obligation to vote seriously enough to delve more closely into what they want and get from elected politicians.
Seek facts before voting
Politicians and political parties may share some similarities but they aren’t all the same. Neither are their policies. It is up to us to be responsible to think carefully about what we and the country most need, exploring what is being offered and by whom, always seeking facts. That would be more advantageous for us all.
The media is not always helpful, as certain publications, TV channels, social media and elites project their own biases, dishonesty, misrepresentations, sins of commission and omission to influence opinions and troll for your vote. Even if you don’t value your vote, others do, and are prepared to manipulate you to win it.
Look beyond personal appeal
In particular we are best served when we look beyond our superficial attraction to, or rejection of, a standing candidate, to what they actually do. We are called to consider the impact of policies they propose, not just on us, but on the broader community of interest. No knee jerk reactions! No heated teaching a lesson! Above all, look beyond the comfort of eloquent lies to be prepared to accept blunter truths when making a choice to vote.
For important retrospective lessons on how we served ourselves poorly in recent electoral history, we need look no further than the following:
- Tony Abbott became leader of the Liberal Party in 2009, taking the party to a near win in 2010 and an absolute win in 2013. Abbott demonstrated all round decency and deep community engagement by decades of active participation in surf lifesaving bush fire brigade, polly pedal raising funds for community organisations and regularly living with aboriginals to inspire advancement. He has been married to the same woman for almost thirty years and they raised three outstanding daughters. Abbott was a Rhodes Scholar, an Oxford Blue, a thoughtful man who outlined his political philosophy in books published.
Yet despite these hard-earned personal attributes and implementing the policies promised (dumping the carbon tax, stopping the boats), Abbott was attacked on superficial issues: for being too conservative, biting an onion, looking at his watch (misogynist), wearing budgie smugglers in a surf proficiency race. Relentlessly he was trolled in the media, all the time being undermined by the silky talking Malcolm Turnbull who had ever craved the Prime Ministership. Turnbull proved to be a green flop in the job and a sad, mean ghost in retirement. All those who piled in on Abbott contributed to Australia’s loss.
- Campbell Newman had already proven his extraordinary administrative ability during seven years as Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Australia’s largest local government, before becoming Premier of Queensland in 2012. As a former army major and successful management consultant Newman set about implementing a plan for infrastructure development, engaging public/private partnerships to get projects completed on budget and often before time. By appointing former LNP Leader, Laurence Springborg as Health Minister, Newman was able to rein in the bloated, under-performing department, reduce staff and budgets, yet still improving performance, waiting times, staff and patient satisfaction. Despite Queensland’s burgeoning debt, then over $80billion, Newman set about implementing efficiencies throughout the system and reducing the number of public servants and the debt – all to our advantage.
Newman did what he said he would, yet the media and the public orchestrated outrage that he did it too fast, did not consult, and did not bring the public along with him. How willing were we to look at the current and long term benefits of his efforts on our account, rather than take personal offence and seek to “teach him a lesson” by voting him out?
Having won the consequence of our vote, Labor was re-installed under Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk. Now the public service has an additional 35,000 bureaucrats, the State’s debt has ballooned to over $105b, countless projects have been cancelled, stalled or rejected and unemployment is the highest in the country.
Rather than teaching Newman a lesson, we have been compelled to learn one. All the more reason why we should put aside our automatic reaction to the candidate as depicted in the media, to look beyond to the policies and the willingness to implement them in the interests of ourselves and our families, now and in the future.
- Donald Trump, current President of the United States often evokes an immediate response of hatred, resentment and cringe worthiness, not entirely unwarranted: he is a flawed character as are we all. Trump is invariably portrayed negatively by the media mouthpiece for the Left (they use the same words). His Tweets, regardless how objectionable to many, go direct to his 87 million base, cleverly circumventing the fake news.
‘Deplorables’ elected Trump on his policies to Make America Great Again and to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington elite who had ignored them for so long. Like the businessman that he is (and like Abbott and Newman), Trump boldly set about simply doing what he said he would, dealing with issues directly as they arose. As a result the economy boomed, wages increased, businesses profited, more blacks, Hispanics and poor found jobs, those on food stamps declined. Trade deals were renegotiated, especially against China’s $500b annual deficit; major organisations like NATO were challenged to lift responsibility for their own defence; the UN and WHO threatened with defunding should they fail to live up to their constitutional obligations. The military has been refreshed, strengthening American (and our own) security. Instead of starting wars, troops are being brought home, peace has been negotiated between Israel and Arab nations Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, between Kosovo and Serbia, and is in progress between the Taliban and government of Afghanistan. Veterans are guaranteed prompt health service, instead of dying waiting.
Under the First Step Program Blacks have benefited exponentially from prison law reform; development of 8,000 Opportunity Zones for black jobs and businesses; School Choice programs for improved education; and ten year funding for black colleges. Rather than being the racist the media portrays him, Bright young black woman Candace Owens, author of the book Blackout, believes Trump frees African Americans from the Democrat plantation.
Media rhetoric criticises Trump’s management of the COVID response, yet he has had to deal with the same issue we have had under Australia’s federalism: recalcitrant state governments which go their own way. It is unarguable that Trump stopped international flights from China and Europe, setting up a pandemic management team under VP Spence, mobilising PPE equipment and ventilator manufacture, marshaling two military hospital ships and fully equipped pop up hospitals.
All this has been accomplished while under rolling threats of a presidential coup orchestrated by the Democrats, initially to distract from Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, then failure to accept the outcome of the 2016 election, even four years later. No wonder Trump might seem a bit erratic at times. Love him or hate him it could be said he is an exemplar of resilience under pressure that few could emulate: how to keep focussed on the job at hand for the American people while subject to relentless lies, false allegations, misrepresentations, by the Democrats, media, Washington insiders, corporate and Hollywood elites.
Voting in coming Elections
Queenslanders have a serious obligation to consider their vote on 31 October – whether to vote for more of the same spiralling downward trajectory, ballooning debt and public sector, unemployment and investment uncertainty, or to try a fresher approach to investment, infrastructure development and employment prospects for themselves and coming generations.
We cannot vote in the USA election on 3 November, which has similar dramatic contrast in impact, not just for Americans, but also for Australia and western civilisation. As the Democratic party leans to the radical socialist left and China threatens, we need an American patriot like Trump to stand up for his country, the American people, the economy, faith, families, the constitution and history.
Votes lodged in the next few weeks will determine the course of history. Be mindful how you cast yours.