Andrew Wicks

Reality check: The left’s political criticism moves no-one


Approx Reading Time-11As a proud and angry leftist, I’ve discovered something: our vociferous criticism of the Coalition has swayed them in absolutely nothing.




As I grow older, I’m not sure if it’s wisdom, or cynicism that grows within me, but I’ve come to realise something about the nature of political criticism in this country. The louder we yell, the deafer they get. Case in point is that over the last three days, there has been movement on three political issues that I push for. Same sex-marriage, penalty rates and our immigration policy. The seriousness of the three has been reduced to a level of childish pantomime. Be it Peter Dutton rolling down the window of his car to yell at the white-collared supporters of SSM, deriding them as “knitters”; be it that cuts to penalty rates were justified due to church attendance; or be it 52-year-old Maryanne Caric being “sent back” to her birthplace of Yugoslavia (now Croatia), despite the fact she has lived in Australia since she was two years old.

What is interesting is our response, for as the headlines get more ridiculous, and the reaction of the Coalition becomes more coarse, our opposition grows louder. I realise that this is a one-sided pool from which to draw, but each move is met with a groan and a steadfast agreement that things are bad. We all agree. But it is the nature of that criticism I’d like to address. We get angry and push for change, however, it is that anger that justifies the change. Logic (will they) or practicality (how will they) is elbowed out of the way, as it’s the right thing the do. Therefore, because so much wrong is lashing the shores of Australia, the forecasted change is predicted to be of cyclonic levels, which will build quickly and roll over Canberra. Problem is, that perfect storm often dissipates, leaving us disappointed that the barometer of Twitter was incorrect, as the smiling sun seen in the faces of our antagonists emboldens us to start the rain dance anew. Next time, Malcolm. You’ll see. However, the buildings still stand, and the fences are still up.

Simply put, our parents’ generation told us a lie: that meaningful change was but a march away; that if we have the right soundtrack, and the right numbers, we can win; that all we need is a cause behind which to unify.

Well, no.

Thanks to the ease of connectivity, we have ample causes, we can now unite before we head out to unite, and we’re able to march across multiple platforms. A grand example of this is Sydney’s maligned lock-out laws. A movement was formed into a revolution, shirts and headlines were printed, as the murmur of complaint crescendoed into a symphony of angst, culminating in a stoic march through city streets. Up with this, we will not put. However, as the rebellious voices have been drowned out by the usual hum of the city many months later, little has been won, as the NSW police are now considering rolling out the laws across the state.

We had the data, we had the numbers, we had the fight. Hmm.

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So it goes with the same-sex marriage debate. We were promised a plebiscite, a non-binding political vote on the issue. The Coalition ticked that box, and we rightfully demand a free vote. And while we gaze over the hill each morning for that bus we can all clamour aboard, I contend that we should assume that we’ve already missed it.

I’m not saying that we should stop political complaint, but I believe we should look at it for what it is. For every brilliantly snarky meme, well thought out question on QandA or acidic/accurate clickbait we rally behind, we should know that those we aim it at slap the same label on it: white noise. For those on the far left, transplant that momentary deafness that occurs out when Pauline Hanson speaks. The awful truth, is that they don’t listen to us, because they don’t have to.

The Australian political landscape is a barren wasteland in regards to meaningful opportunity. Save for another leadership spill (which would be worse, as it’ll be the revenge of the far-right side of the Coalition and it’d wear the face of Dutton or perhaps even Tony), or indeed another double dissolution, the next federal election window is August 2018 at the very earliest.

Yes, Labor is the preferred party by a large margin, but in a world with such a split Senate diluting the allegiance of votes to shoot down bills (see the Adler/Leyonhjelm fiasco), the figure means nothing, other than the justification of our angry shrugs. In fact, the only thing the preferred poll will enable is a longer run of the Coalition after they change leaders (see: the Coalition, after the Abbott spill to present). As archaic as the truth may be, the old ways still rule supreme. If you want them out, vote them out. There’s no other way.

Stay angry, but stay realistic.


Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks is a country boy with a penchant for movies and sport. After a few years working in health, he decided he'd rather work with today's youth and studied arts and education in rural NSW. His main interests are religion, health and lairy shirts.

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