I hold the view that when stuff happens, we’re all entitled to five minutes of emotion.
As the just held election was an exceptionally large and malodorous pile of… stuff, I’ve had to give myself a couple of weeks.
But, finally, equanimity has been regained, although it wasn’t easy, even if the outcome was anticipated.
What helped was learning of American research that goes some way to explaining what happens here.
First, there is a widely promoted – and widely held – view of the US that it’s basically made up of two warring camps, the Right and the Left.
The research tells us the reality is that the majority of Americans are ” moderate, pragmatic, fiscal centrists”, In other words, most Americans agree on fiscal issues.
They support medicaid, social safety nets, fair taxation, etc, and they tend to belt any party/candidate that moves too far from the centre on fiscal policy.
But they, shall we say, vigorously, disagree on a bunch of peripheral issues, like whether people and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time, and whether or not there’s a link between the country being awash with guns and the fact that 100 times more Americans are killed by guns than all of Europe plus the UK, which adds up to about the same population size.
In other words, they hate each other over the stuff the rest of the world thinks is a no brainer, but agree on fiscal policy.
This leads to the second interesting discovery.
The US Main Stream Media, otherwise known as ‘Dickhead Central’, would have us believe that Americans are hugely party aligned and that elections are fought to win the hearts and minds of a tiny swinging voter population, often put at 2 – 5%.
The Australian version of DC would have us believe that it’s the same here.
After all, it sounds so down-to-the-wire dramatic doesn’t it. The idea just begs for breathlessness among even the least breathless young things that pass for reporters these days.
This turns out to be what’s technically known as crap. Around 40% of American voters are non party affiliated and describe themselves as swinging voters.
Now, I’m going to posit that, although there isn’t the research to prove it, the Australian electorate is pretty much the same, i.e.
- We’re moderate, pragmatic fiscal centrists who will thump fiscally extreme politicians, and
- About 40% of us are swinging voters who think fairly carefully about who we vote for. (Okay, there are a few new senators that do make me wonder, but, by and large….)
I would go a bit further and say that most Aussies are centrists on social issues as well as fiscal issues, that is, we take the idea of a fair go a bit further than the Americans.
Once I understood this, I realized that no matter how lame Abbott and his band are, they can only do so much damage in three years, and if they move too far from the centre, Aussies will thoughtfully give ‘em a slap upside of the ear.
Just as they did with Labor a couple of weeks ago.
So, when I say in the title, that we’re in good hands, I’m referring to the Aussie people, and not the Right Wing nut bags skulking behind our new PM having wet dreams about turning our beloved country in to a Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand envisioned nightmare.
Makes it all so much easier to put up with.