Done. And it hurts a bit.
Done without vitriol, just disappointment.
Done without joining the competition, without any clear home for my politics. A centre-left secular humanist, with liberal tendencies restrained by some cynicism towards the market, lacking attachment to unions, per se. There is no home for me in Australian politics.
Done, taking me back to the mid-1990s, when my friend at university was campaigning for a seat, and I joined his campaign, then his party and faction. They were the 'moderates', a uniquely NT mish-mash of right and centre, pragmatic at a time when that seemed more acceptable. Decades of corrupt, hard-right rule by the Country Liberal Party made any compromise acceptable back then. And in the NT you didn't have to be part of a key union, large 'labor family', or other inside player in order to get involved. Membership meant real involvement, meeting the players, having a substantive say.
Done for a vow, one that was never clear in the execution. It involved dumping on refugees, a 'never again' following the Tampa capitulation. Yet I'm a centrist, I understand that my views aren't those of the people in the marginals and I do accept compromise. I didn't expect utopia- indeed, I can see that at some point refugee numbers could need restraint, and that decisions must be made that leave some people, whose lives aren't that great, on the wrong side of an application. I grumbled through a few 'toughening' steps, and kept the faith. But when it became arbitrary and irrational I knew the line had been crossed.
Done during the Great Rudd ALP principles-dump. A decision was made to dump a succession of ideals, to clear the decks for a debate on the economy and perhaps health, backed no doubt by some IR scare campaigning. The decision involved taking people like me - let along substantial numbers of party members well to my left - for granted. That taking-for-granted is pretty much standard operating procedure in Labor, based on a perceived need to pander elsewhere for crucial marginal seats. But taking several huge hits in succession just made my post-Tampa vow all the easier to keep.
Done during my year of clearing the decks. I haven't ruled out trying to re-join in the future if things improve. But the way forward is now hazy, in a year where I'm trying to stocktake the things I put energy into, to prioritise, to work out how I can do something worthwhile with my life.
Done to relieve the cognitive dissonance. I'm pretty straight-talking, the eternal compromise is always very unsettling.
Done because the one issue on which the ALP is genuinely left of centre- the continued influence of the unions- is not really my issue. Partly due to that issue and the influence of a couple of huge unions in particular, the party is pretty much as conservative as the Liberals when it comes to social liberalism and the continued comingling of church and state in this country. Those, by contrast, are my issues.
Done because the ALP are dumb on foreign policy. No better way to put it, it's a lack of knowledge and competence. On balance I will agree with more of their positions, but viewed objectively the Liberals actually seem to have more people who know what they are talking about. Who read books and stuff, even if they aren't books I agree with. This is a big area for me, miniscule as it is for the electorate, and I find the directionless floundering under Rudd's stewardship (let's face it, Smith is a patsy in this portfolio) highly frustrating. Ultimately I'd like to see us revisit our brainless sycophancy and flag-waving militarism, to find a completely new settlement with our place in the world as a small-to-medium power with quite different policy needs from either the US or UK. I'm tired of our foreign policy being resolved on bases that a year 10 student could rip apart. Which leads to...
Done because I believe in good policy. Policy I don't agree with is one thing, but policy I don't agree with that was hatched without, or against the prevailing analysis, simply on poll-driven impulse, is just an ongoing offence to our nation and polity. I really do think I believe that it would be better for the party to formulate some strong positions it genuinely believes in, that are backed by evidence, and to fight for those at the hustings. To just dump all perceived risks and run on the smallest of differentiations is to rob the people of their choice.
Done because, unlike many hard-wired members of political parties of all persuasions, I really do believe that the nation, and the policies, are more important than the -any- party.
My latest column (was actually last week) - Forgot to post this last week when my column was published. Am just a little bit overwhelmed at the moment by gosh, everything.. work, life, children, self...
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