Monday, November 26, 2007

Election

It was only last week that I truly began to allow myself to believe that John Howard's government would lose the election. The polls had said so all year, but somehow I just couldn't believe it. The economy was strong. Paranoia about national security still prevailed. John Howard, while never exactly popular, was widely respected.

But it was more than that. People were tired of the government, but there wasn't that wierd build up of energy you normally get when a government is thrown out - as if the nation is preparing, not so much to vote, as to collectively vomit something up. I thought the government would just fall over the line and be re-elected.

But last week, I could truly begin to feel that change in the air. My heart, schooled to sticking with political logic rather than hope, began to sing.

And oh, the joy of watching the vote count. I had actually forgotten how truly gratifying it is to watch the defeat of political enemies. I was surprised by my own malicious pleasure as the familiar faces were crossed off as they lost their seats. Smite them, O Lord. So perish all my enemies!

It's only a year or so since the government looked completely invincible. I still cannot quite believe that John Howard has not only lost the election, but also apparently his own seat. It's the biggest rejection of a PM since 1929. Actually, I didn't take much pleasure in that part. There is something rather horrible about how ruthless politics is - and the way he suddenly looked so old.

But I must say, it is a relief. Part of the relief is specific things like knowing that we will finally be out of Iraq and making some kind of genuine effort on climate change. But a lot of it is finally feeling like we are somehow getting back to thinking about someone other than ourselves. For the past few years, Australian politics has been mostly alternating appeals to our immediate greed and whipping up of our worst fears and prejudices. It's been mostly boring, preoccupied with the most incredibly short-term and parochial suburban concerns, and when it hasn't been boring, it's really felt kind of disgusting. And it just hasn't felt like the Australia I know and love.

After feeling so disconnected for so long, I finally feel a bit hopeful again. Kevin Rudd is not exactly a messiah. He's a geeky, boring kind of guy who talks in soundbites. But I am finally hearing a long term plan for this country that isn't all about buying huge houses, cluttering up the roads with SUVs and bugger the next generation.

Could it be that I will actually enjoy politics again?

6 Comments:

Blogger Sailor said...

I'm glad that Australians have moved to make a change. Here's hoping that you will get to enjoy politics again!

3:53 AM  
Anonymous C-Marie said...

it defintely shows that there may be something left, after all, to believe in!

xxoo

1:07 PM  
Blogger D said...

Emily I hope it isn't a false dawn like the ones we have witnessed in the UK where left and right are now just a blurred centre. Good to see the smile wiped off that smug PM of yours though

4:02 AM  
Blogger hasarder said...

I didn't really believe it would happen, couldn't berar to believe it until the results were actually in. And I was surprised at how I felt watching the vote count - kind of like that flip-flop in the stomach when you start a new love affair.

Not that I'm in love with Rudd. Just so, so happy that Australia might finally be on the road to recovery.

7:24 PM  
Blogger hasarder said...

Er... 'couldn't bear' I mean.

7:25 PM  
Blogger oldbear said...

Hi Emily, maybe you could send some of that good fortune over here? So that the meanness, selfishness, and cowardice that has enabled to Bushistas and their ilk to take us down the wrong course will cease!



Congrats, most of the Aussies I have known were more progressive than to be in lockstep with your ex PM.
Good to see results match their outlook,

I am still up for Sheath stout, Stubbies and Slim Dusty :-)

Vic akak OldBear.

10:52 PM  

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