Grief, anger, and micro-actions

So, how is everyone doing this week? I’ll be honest – I’m not doing brilliantly.  I try to make this blog as positive and hopeful as possible, because I don’t see that there is much to be gained by afflicting everyone else with my depression, but yeah.  It’s been a rough week.  (Also, work has been both busy and chaotic, and all my joints have decided they hate me, which is not improving my mood.)

Also, it turns out that underneath the depression I’m actually really angry, which is an emotion I find hard to manage constructively.

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Yes, this sucks. But we can’t afford to despair

If, like me, you live life on the progressive side of politics – or perhaps even if you live on the conservative side but nonetheless view climate change as an emergency, and see racism, poverty, and xenophobia as serious issues – you probably spent the evening staring at the election results in growing horror.

(Honestly, I felt so nauseated after a couple of hours that I switched off the coverage and stuck in our Keating! The Musical DVD. I mean, I figure I did absolutely everything I could to make a difference in this election – I could skip the aftermath with a clear conscience.)

And look, it really is pretty awful. The Coalition is not going to do a single positive thing about climate change, and we now have another three years of people on Newstart living below the poverty line and being harassed by robodebts and programs that are designed to punish rather than help, and people who need the NDIS being unable access it. We will have three more years of cruelty to refugees and three more years of cuts to the ABC, while Murdoch gets free rein over our media.

Also… we have just shown both major parties that running a scare campaign with basically no policies wins over running a policy-driven campaign. And that’s really depressing, because it means we’ve just taught Labor not to bother running on policy.

I’m not going to sit here and try to say that it’s all going to be fine, that we need to stay positive, that it’s alright. A significant proportion of or population voted out of fear or ignorance or just a lack of empathy or imagination, and we are all going to suffer for it, and it’s OK to feel stunned and angry and sickened and upset and depressed. The future looks pretty scary right now, and we need to come to terms with that.

We need to take time to grieve, and to be angry, and to be numb, and to do whatever we need to do to find a way to accept the reality we now find ourselves in.

And, honestly, that’s going to take time. I mean, I’m white, I’m mostly straight, I’m employed and reasonably financially secure, and I’m healthy. I’m several steps away from being directly impacted by most of the government’s awfulness, and I’m still terrified and deeply sad about the direction we are moving in. I can only imagine how people more marginalised than me must be feeling right now.

So I think step one for all of us right now is to grieve as we need to. That doesn’t mean we can’t do other things later – that we shouldn’t find our own ways to fight for what is needed, to protect our friends who are more vulnerable than us, to move forward so that there is still something left to preserve by the time we reach the next election.

But we don’t necessarily have to do all of that right now. And we definitely don’t have to feel guilty about not doing *everything* right now. If you need it, this is me giving you permission to take the time to rest and to find a way to be OK. You can’t fight the good fight when you are desperately wounded. Give yourself time to heal.

Because it’s  going to be a hard three years, and I need you to survive it, OK? Whoever you are, if you are reading this, you are needed, and you are wanted and you deserve to be OK. No matter what the government may say. So step one is definitely doing what you can to make that happen. Hang out with friends, read something fun and escapist, throw yourself into work, go for a bike ride, join a community choir – whatever works for you. Take care of yourself. Please.

Step two… step two is for when you are feeling less fragile. But when you get there, step two is to find the thing that you care about and the thing you can do. Maybe that thing is volunteering or donating money. Maybe it is being a good friend to someone who needs that. Maybe it’s raising the next generation, or maybe it’s joining a political party and taking the fight to them.

(Step Three is recognising that there is only so much that you, personally, can do, and doing that much, and not feeling guilty about not doing all the other things. I’m still working on step three, to be honest.)

For me? I’m going to sleep for four hours and then get up and try to enjoy Eurovision. And then I’m going to have another nap, and avoid news coverage and social media for a bit.

But step two for me is definitely going to include writing to my local member and anyone else in the ALP who I can think of and thank them for running a positive, policy-driven campaign. I don’t know if we’ll see another campaign like that after the way this one failed, but positive behaviour should be rewarded, and this much I can do.

Please take care of yourselves.

(And who knows… maybe the early votes will save us. But I have to admit, I’m not optimistic at this point.)

Edited to add: I wrote a post on self-care a few years ago.  It has belatedly occurred to me that it might be worth linking to from this post.  So here it is!

Make your vote count

So, the election is tomorrow.  You’ve done your reading.  You’ve maybe even listened to a few Eurovision songs along the way.  With luck, you have at least some idea who you are going to vote for.

There are two things I want to write about today.

The first is just to touch on how incredibly fortunate we are in our electoral system.  I’ve been corresponding with a friend in the US recently, and she mentioned in passing that she was in Australia during an election a few years ago and she couldn’t believe how many places there were that you could vote.  Airports!  Hospitals!  Mobile polling booths that go to aged care facilities and remote communities!  Coming from a country where restricting access to the ballot box is an actual strategy for one of their major parties, it was a revelation.

I write about our Australian Electoral Commission at almost every election, because it is a national treasure and we are so lucky to have it.  I think, though, that I’m going to just cheat this time and link you to my last post on the subject rather than writing a new one, because I just did a count and I’ve already written more than 140,000 words in this electoral cycle and I’ll be honest with you, I’m tired and I have a Eurovision party to bake for.

Also, there’s something else I really want to talk about in this post, and that’s about numbering all the boxes on your Senate Ballot, whether you opt for voting above or below the line.

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Voting in Wills – Candidates, Policies, and hey, are we a marginal seat now?

I feel like Wills has entered a new era in the last few years.

We’ve been a safe Labor seat since forever (setting aside that little lapse with Phil Cleary), and have been entirely ignored by both major parties, but in the last couple of elections, the Green vote has been creeping up, and I must say, it has borne dividends.  We got a new local member from the progressive side of Labor, we are suddenly being noticed in infrastructure planning, and in the last two weeks, I’ve been door-knocked by volunteers both for the Greens and for the Victorian Socialists. (The Greens volunteer seemed a little appalled by my interest in politics when we met at the tram stop and even more appalled when he knocked on a door that evening and yes, it was me again; the Socialist volunteer was absolutely lovely, and persuaded us to put up signage for Sue Bolton… and then nobody ever came back to us to deliver it, which is just such a classic Socialist Alliance way to behave – great ideas, no follow through.  Though having said that, Sue has been an excellent local council member.)

On Tuesday night I even got a phone call from my local Labor member, Peter Khalil. He is certainly working hard for my vote – the phone call lasted nearly half an hour, and ranged from climate policy and getting refugees off Nauru and Manus Island, to the need to raise pensions and fix the NDIS, the restoration of penalty rates, and solidarity with workers. He had a lot of good answers, was hardly rude about the Greens at all (!), and was actively positive about Sue Bolton… admittedly, she is also not much of a threat to him, but it was clearly important that she is solidly working class and unionish, unlike those suspiciously middle-class and thus untrustworthy Greens.  (I refrained from mentioning my own suspiciously middle-class background.  I suspect he guessed about my Greens-voting habits nonetheless.).

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The One and Only Cate Speaks Microparty Policy Fantasy League!

I have frequently noted that almost every small party – even the otherwise loathesome ones! – has one policy worth reading about.  Sometimes, you have to look really hard to find it, because it is buried in a sea of horror and revulsion, but that only makes it the more beautiful when you find it.

So this election, as a special treat, I thought it might be fun to make a collection of the policies that our smaller, weirder parties have come up with that stand out from the crowd. A Microparty Fantasy League, if you will.  Now, it should be noted that there are some parties on this list who I wouldn’t trust to legislate their way out of a paper sack, and who definitely shouldn’t be put in charge of policy on anything resembling a regular basis.  And it should also be noted that this in no way constitutes a complete policy platform.  But I think you will agree that there are, in fact, some unexpectedly good ideas on this list.

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Other Handy Guides to the Federal Election

If you are arriving at this blog in these final few days before the election, the odds are good that you won’t have time to read my extensive and Eurovision-embellished essays before you vote.

And that’s OK!  Nobody has ever accused me of being concise, and I get that people do have lives that don’t revolve around researching every single political party out there (though I do think it is worthwhile to research a few.  I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t think our choice of government was important!).

Also, I won’t deny that my blog posts are *full* of opinions, and reflect my own personal priorities.  They may not reflect yours.

So here, for your delectation, are a collection of other essays, blogs and Twitter threads that are designed to help you figure out who to vote for.  Most of them (all of them?!) are significantly shorter than mine.  Some of them have different priorities.  All of them are, I think, useful to any reader who is still trying to figure out who some of these small parties are.

Enjoy!

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Making your Mind Up! The Cate Speaks Summary / Voter Guide

Once again, my final set of voting preferences still requires a bit of tweaking, but I have grouped the parties into eleven categories, to help figure out where to put people on the ballot.  Why eleven categories?  Because that way I can give my favourite parties ‘Douze points’ and award the gun-totin’ racists ‘Nul points’ in best Eurovision style.  Also, it turns out that I do have eleven distinct categories, so there you go.

I’m not really ranking parties within categories – I mean, yes, based on how I feel about them right at this moment, I’ve put my preferred options at the top of each category, but I often make slight changes to my final rankings at the ballot box.  And some of those parties are ones I don’t have the option to vote for anyway.  Besides, I feel it’s good to preserve some minor level of mystique about my actual vote…

Finally, before you start reading this, allow me to draw to your attention the Senate Voting Card Creator website.  This excellent website allows you to list your parties and then your candidates in your order of preference, and then generates a printer-friendly list, so that you can easily see which numbers will go into which box when you vote below the line, and don’t risk missing a number somewhere.  I was very sad when Below the Line closed down, and am delighted to see that this website has now replaced it.

NB: I’ve noted the Group next to parties running in Victoria.  For parties running only outside Victoria, I’ve noted where they are running.

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Federal Election 2019: Meet the Science Party!

Summary

Website: https://www.scienceparty.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SciencePartyAus/
Previous name:
Future Party
Slogans:
Principles. Evidence. Progress.
Themes: Science, technology, innovation.  Generally progressive policies, extremely ambitious climate change plan, good on equality, excited about space, driverless cars and building a charter city called Turing.
Electorate:
Upper House: NSW
Lower House: Berowra, Grayndler, Kingsford Smith, Mallee, Perth Sydney, Watson
Preferences: The Science Party is standing only in NSW, and I haven’t found their Lower House tickets yet. In the Senate, they are preferencing the Australian Democrats, Animal Justice, Independents for Climate Action Now, the Greens, and Labor.  So a fairly standard left/progressive ticket, with a strong leaning towards climate change policy.
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Federal Election 2019: Meet the Jacqui Lambie Network

Summary

Website: https://www.lambienetwork.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jacquilambienetwork/
Previous names: None, unless you count the fact that Jacqui was one of the original Palmer United Senators back in the day.
Slogans:
Every Tasmanian, Every Day.
Themes: Looking after soldiers and veterans, higher wages for teachers, hydroelectricity, putting Australia first, more jobs, looking after seniors.  Nothing on climate change, not great on LGBTQIA stuff, and a wee bit xenophobic.
Electorate:
Upper House: TAS
Preferences: The Lambie Network is giving no hints as to their preferences, but they do have a fairly delightfully-worded how to vote card:

Write the number ‘1’ in the box above ‘Jacqui Lambie Network’ column ABOVE THE LINE.  Then write the numbers 2-6 in the boxes ABOVE THE LINE for the parties of your choice.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that you number at least SIX boxes, or your vote won’t count.

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Federal Election 2019: Meet the Australian Progressives

Summary

Website: www.progressives.org.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AusProgressive/
Slogans:
Ethics. Empathy. Equality. Evidence. Engagement. Empowerment.
We believe Australia’s best days are ahead of us.
Themes: Being progressive!   Looking after people so that they can achieve their potential, action on climate change, equality and ending systemic discrimination.  Absolutely brilliant statement on the purpose of taxation, for which I will forgive much.
Electorate:
Lower House: Bean, Canberra, Fenner, Longman, Sturt
Preferences: None provided.  How to vote cards are just too regressive…
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