Well it’s voting time really soon. I am pretty nervous about the result.
I still hear a lot of people saying that there is no difference between the Labor Party and the Coalition. So I thought I would share my view. This is obviously a biased and personal view. I’m not asking you to agree with me. Please make up your own mind.
To my mind, while it’s true that the two parties are not different *enough* for my tastes, there are still significant differences in their philosophies. And there are certain patterns that distinguish them, and, I think, give us an indication of what we will get if they are elected.
I often think that, in life in general, not just in politics, there are two ways of looking at the world:
- Life is a dog-eat-dog world. Everybody else will try to screw you over, so you better look out for number one.
- Life is about learning to live with other people. By sharing with others and making society more equal, we create a better world for each of us.
I think that people who vote Liberal tend to have a more individualistic, competitive view of the world. While people who vote Labor tend to have a more communal, sharing view of the world. People who think that other people are usually bad tend to be Liberal voters. People who think that most people are good at heart tend to be Labor voters. These are just generalisations, I know. I’m sure there are exceptions.
So I think that Labor tends more toward sharing the wealth, and Liberal tends more toward every man for himself. I am not saying Labor is gonna create an equal society, or that the Libs are going to let the poor starve. The two parties are both fairly similar, it’s true. But if you look at their policies over the last ten, twenty years, I think it’s pretty clear that Labor is more likely to support greater equality, of taking from the rich and helping the poor, whereas the Coalition is more likely to want to give *less* support to the poor. They are more likely to take money out of social services (witness their cuts to health and education etc in state government). And they are more likely to give more money to the wealthy, in the form of tax cuts.
I am on a pretty decent wage at the moment, but I still incline more toward Labor in this regard for two reasons.
- I believe that bad luck can befall anybody, and any of us could find ourselves poor and out of work and in need of assistance.
- I believe that, even if I am lucky and manage to make it rich, it is better for *me* if society is more equal, because the bigger the gap between rich and poor, the more likely there is to be crime and general unrest.
The second point is probably harder to prove, but it’s what I believe.
So I think in general, I support Labor because I see them as a kinder party. They are more likely to look toward helping those in need. I see the Libs more as the party who is likely to say “well you need to haul yourself up by the bootstraps young man”, and to not help people. And while I think each of us does need to take responsibility for our own life, we also need to acknowledge that people born in poverty or disadvantage have a much harder job in doing so. And secondly, and this is the big argument against that philosophy, in a capitalist society it is just common sense that, even if everybody works hard, not everybody can get ahead. There will always be winners and losers, and sometimes that is the result of hard work, and sometimes it is the result of bad luck. Look at all the people who lost their savings when the markets crashed. Are they to blame for their situation? So I think the idea that everybody makes their own bed and has to sleep in it is an oversimplistic one. I think we *always* need to try to be kind and compassionate toward those less well off. Because all of us are only one piece of bad luck away from being there.
These philosophies carry over into most aspects of their policies. I think in general:
- Labor is more likely to support workers, Libs to support bosses.
- Labor is more likely to help the poor, Libs to help the rich.
- Labor is more likely to be open to different ways of life. For instance, they are more likely to support gay marriage. They are more likely to be considerate of other cultures. Libs are more likely to be against difference.
- Labor is more likely to support choice when it comes to things like abortion and euthanasia. Libs are more likely to be against them.
- Labor is more likely to support the arts and education. Libs are more likely to take money away from these areas.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Basically, if you think the dog-eat-dog world is good and that we should all look out for ourselves, and try to get rich at the expense of everybody else, then the Libs are the party for you. If you believe that we should support one another, look out for those in need and try to make society more equal, then Labor are a better option.
But don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. Read what the parties say, and see if I’m right or not. Look at the words they use. Look at the groups they target. Look at who supports them (does it tell you anything that Rupert Murdoch wants you to vote for the Liberal Party?)
Maybe I’m wrong in my interpretation of each party. Clearly I have my biases and maybe I’m being unfair. I don’t claim to be any kind of an expert.
All I would ask is this: when you are deciding who you will vote for, or preference, ask yourself this: what are the values you really believe in? What sort of a society do you believe we should be trying to create? Which party represents the kind of attitudes that you think are admirable?
I know what my answer is, but each of us needs to find our own way.
Of course, I’m not saying you need to vote for either major party. You can vote for a smaller party and preference whichever party you think is the lesser evil (in fact, that’s what I do). Just remember that your preferences count. And while I agree that the two major parties are too similar, and that neither is really what I am looking for, that *doesn’t* mean that they’re the same, or that the choice we make won’t have repercussions.
I am pretty clear about which way I lean, politically. That’s because I feel strongly about things like kindness and compassion. But I know good people who vote for both parties, for reasons that they no doubt believe are good reasons.
So I’m not asking anybody to believe what I do. All I’m asking is that you examine your motives and do some reading and do what you believe is right.