I was pondering things last night, deep and meaningful things. I’ve talked before about our cultural idea of loyalty and how its a concept that’s dissipating throughout society. Divorce rates are sky rocketing, careers, cars, houses, allegiances, promises – everything is disposable. There was an article in yesterday’s SMH talking about the restructuring of wedding vows to do away with “till death do us part.” The only allegiances that seem to be held to are those to a football team. Which has interesting ramifications for other ill conceived allegiances – and particularly those to a particular political party.
With no real research, or anything to back up these figures, I’d say the electorate is divided into three types of voter – the party member, the swinging voter, and the uninterested (otherwise known as the stupid masses). Swinging voters will decide their vote on the issues in a campaign (or the personalities involved – which I believe is more likely but what voters see is how a candidate handles the issues that the political theorists have decided should be the election issues… which generally works out to be financially motivated), the uninterested masses will either donkey vote, vote for the most visible candidate, or vote against a candidate they have an arbitrary dislike for. These people don’t really interest me – well not when it comes to this post anyway. I’m wondering what it is that draws people to a political party to begin with. Ideology must play some part but there are other factors at play – from personal experience I decided which parties I support in principle before I knew what each particular party stood for. Anecdotaly other people choose their party alliance based on who’s in power (or not in power) in their electorate when they have to start voting. Rabid support of a party based on the party identity only is an interesting beast. Toeing the party line as a supporter lacks rationality – toeing the party line on an ideological basis is just as irrational – there’s no real underlying ideological differences between the major Australian parties these days. Elections are now fought on who will govern best based on implementation of economic policies rather than based on who has the better ideological policies. Economic rationalism and a stance as close to the political centre as possible seems to drive both the Labor opposition and the Coalition government more than any stance on social justice, industrial relations (including traditional union movements) and this is the current government’s great strength – by bringing the opposition on to their platforms they should be able to beat them in that particular fight at any given time. Rudd seems to be trying really hard to move away from that with his policies on education and the environment. I’ve spoken to a couple of people about how they decided who to vote for and traditional family pressures comes up as a reason quite frequently. The problem with that model is that the traditional positions of the major parties no longer exists because the political and socioeconomic climate has changed (ahha haha ha – climate change joke). Why anyone chooses to be a party member or support a party any further than the ballot box these days – without a vested interest in a party getting to power – is beyond me. At the same time, I’ll still probably vote the same way I did last time just because they’re the team I support. And that puzzles me.
I’d be interested to hear, without anyone having to proclaim their particular position – why you’ve chosen who to vote for in past elections – or who you’ll vote for in the future. I have a feeling that for the majority of educated people heartstring loyalty gives way to purse string rationality while for the dumb masses its a matter of the candidate who runs the most impressive public relations campaign who’ll get the nod.