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Truly the other side of the world

“More than 60% of voters approve of major parties’ performance” reports today’s Guardian.

Well, actually tomorrow’s Guardian, because it’s the Australian edition. I saw that headline and thought I had slipped into a parallel universe. A happier one:

While national politics frets about its trust crisis, the bulk of Australian voters appear reasonably sanguine with both of the major parties five months on from the federal election, with more than 60% of the Guardian Essential sample rating the performance of the Coalition and Labor as excellent, good or fair.

Such contentment is strange to see when one considers how alienating and painful the Guardian commentariat found Scott Morrison’s surprise election victory in May:

The woman checking my name off the list around 8pm is angry and crying and saying, “I don’t get it, we went in with policies, they went in with nothing.”

Inside it is awful. This is meant to be Bill Shorten’s victory party, but the energy is heavy – as if some trauma had taken place and a great shock was being absorbed. Inside no one is talking, and if they are, it is quietly and involves references to franking credits.

I do not post Brigid Delaney’s article merely to mock. I could relate to her sense of shock at discovering that half your country does not, after all, broadly share your values that she describes in the following passage:

In 2016 Britain voted for Brexit and America for Trump. In those countries, part of the national trauma was the realisation that one part of the country was so ill-acquainted with the other part. Citizens stopped knowing each other. The polls got it wrong, the media got it wrong, people were so siloed in their own tribes and social media bubbles that the other side winning felt like a profound shock. Like it wasn’t meant to happen. The falcon couldn’t hear the falconer and all that. And in those countries, it’s only gotten worse. Part of the damage in the years since has been the hardening of the lines and divisions between these tribes, between red and blue.

(Though in my case the sense of shock came from realising just how many people support a limited democracy like that of Iran, in which one may only vote for options within a permitted range.)

And yet five months after that day when the chasm opened, here we are: “more than 60% of the Guardian Essential sample rating the performance of the Coalition and Labor as excellent, good or fair”. The falcon hears the falconer just fine, thank you and the shape with the lion body and the head of a man and a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun is snuggled up next to the rough beast and snoring gently.

What is Scott Morrison doing right?

15 comments to Truly the other side of the world

  • Lee Moore

    Like it wasn’t meant to happen. The falcon couldn’t hear the falconer and all that. And in those countries, it’s only gotten worse. Part of the damage in the years since has been the hardening of the lines and divisions between these tribes

    Not altogether surprising if the losing side refuses to accept the legitimacy of the other side’s win. It kinda alerts the winning side to the news that “Hmm, they’re not just having a snit and a weep, they really don’t think the way these things should be settled is by using ballot boxes. Good to know.”

    This btw is another in the loooooong string of lefty articles pointing out that when the righties win 51-49 the nation is divided. But when the lefties win 51-49, it isn’t.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    It helps that Scott Morrison looks like a nice guy. Looks matter a lot in all areas of life. And the other side (Labor and Greens) still don’t know what to do. They want to tax and spend, but the electorate doesn’t want to be taxed (Who knew?). And some of their ‘policies’ were open-ended claims of more and more taxes for the climate cause, so stop asking questions about costs, heretics!

  • Stonyground

    “…they really don’t think the way these things should be settled is by using ballot boxes.”

    While at the same time loudly proclaiming that we don’t and they do.

  • Itellyounothing

    I am going to call this Hockey Stick Delusion.

    The UK example is that Maggie Thatcher took the UK on a huge swing rightward divesting nationalised industry.
    Major, then Blair, then Brown. Cameron managed a coalition on just a “right wing” brand, then with the promise of an EU referendum an actual majority. Looks like the leftward swing has stopped and started to reverse. Then Theresa led the country on a left ward Nanny state swing and threw her majority away.

    The “leftie” metropolitan elite are seeing a hockey stick with ever increasing leftiness, due to good old confirmation bias.
    The “right” saw their own hockey stick after the USSR publicly failed, thinking the they had settled Socialism / Communism’s hash forever.

    It’s a seesaw. As each generation comes to power, bringing their experiences, they thrust a different set of problems on the younger folk swinging them away any extremes.

    At least in the internet age, its harder for the would be elite to hide their cock ups. Maybe that will open the public up to the idea it’s nicer just to be left alone i.e. smaller government, lower taxes.

  • This btw is another in the loooooong string of lefty articles pointing out that when the righties win 51-49 the nation is divided. But when the lefties win 51-49, it isn’t

    Sure, because when the Commies win it’s democracy, but when the no-Commies win it’s dictatorship. This is especially true when it comes to whether to remain in a supranational body or not (apparently).

    *sigh* It’s all so tiresime.

  • pete

    It is easy to not know what others think if you don’t make the slightest effort to find out.

    I can’t understand why so many self-described educated and clever Remainers in the UK didn’t realise this and were surprised by the result of our 2016 people’s vote.

  • Fred the Fourth

    Can’t speak for Australia or the UK, but in my part of the US (Silicon Valley) most Trump voters were not shocked by his election. Surprised a bit, I suppose. Unlike the Hillary voters, who were literally crying, screaming, and seeking therapy.
    The reason is simple. Trump voters are continually exposed to the leftist point of view and propaganda (print, TV, NPR, colleagues…), and have to actively seek out the full spectrum of news and information. Events in the real world, therefore, come as less of a surprise to them.

  • (Though in my case the sense of shock came from realising just how many people support a limited democracy like that of Iran, in which one may only vote for options within a permitted range.)

    This is in contrast to the Anglosphere, of course, where one can vote for Trump or for Brexit, and only your results are allowed if they are “within a permitted range.” You can vote for Brexit, you just don’t get it. You can vote for Trump, you just aren’t allowed to have Trump policies.

  • Sean

    Morrison comes across as a regular person who cares about regular people. Trump has never pretended to be a regular person but he has always cared about them. So, I’m thinking ‘caring about regular people’ is what they are doing right?

  • Paul Marks

    Perhaps most Australians do not want ever higher taxes and ever more regulations – and so oppose the left.

    And it also possible that most Australians reject the central mantra of the left – that “Australia is part of Asia”, which is geologically (not just culturally) FALSE – as Australia is not part of Asia.

    I think most Australians have nothing special against Indonesia – they just do not want to be part of Indonesia, which is what “free migration” would inevitably mean. Libertarians should also note that.

  • Compulsory voting (so cannot win by driving people away from the polls) and preferential voting (so have to aim for 50% +1) drives Australian politicians to pay broader attention. Over time, it has an effect.

    Also, proportional representation Senate means all significant groupings of views get a run between elections, so less voter alienation and also encourages paying attention by major Party politicians..

  • bobby b

    Lorenzo from Oz, or anyone, a question:

    In the US, we have the Electoral College, which essentially grants some proportional voting power to land instead of merely heads. This serves to ensure that the huge urban centers don’t dominate all of national politics, and that rural areas get a voice too.

    Does Australia have any similar system? If not, do you think that the urban centers do, in fact, have their way with the rest of the country?

  • Lee Moore

    I’m not an Aussie, but I’ll have a go since I spend a certain amount of time “down under.”

    1. Australia has effectively the same system as the US has for electing the US House of Representatives, ie districts allocated to States by population, and then divided up within each State evenly as to population. Except that :

    (a) they use a “non partisan” commission in each State to draw the district boundaries. How “non-partisan” they are in reality, I can’t say. I have a vague recollection that in one State, not long ago, the lefty side (Labor) won three elections in a row despite losing the vote each time, and the Commission said “Sorry, voters aren’t obeying our predictions so it’s not our fault.”

    and

    (b) the election is not first past the post, but an elimination where the votes of losing candidates get reallocated according to the voter’s preference to candidates who are still in it, until there are only two left standing. Only one election day – just weeks of counting. This system presumably makes it a bit easier to elect moderates in “purple” districts as compared with the UK system, but probably makes little difference v the US where there are only two parties. I think Maine had a go at this system recently.

    The Aussie Prime Minister is produced by this system without a separate election. He or she is just generated by the totals in the lower House like the Speaker in the US HoR. The Aussies have developed a habit recently of “doing a Lautenberg” if the PM gets too unpopular in the polls. It’s called a “spill.”

    2. But land gets a vote in the Australian Senate, where each State gets the same number of Senators regardless of population.

    3. In the olden days, land used to get a bigger vote in State elections. There used to be a splendid old crocodile called Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen who remained Premier of Queensland for over twenty years by rigging the districts in favour of rural voters.

    4. But despite the public image, Australia is a very urban nation, so tring to keep cities from dominating isn’t really possible.

  • bobby b

    Thanks. Quite clear.

    (Trying to wrap my brain around the mechanics of trying to count ballots in a preference system before the use of computers. Take all of the ballots out of the barrel of the last-place candidate, and distribute them according to the second choices on each ballot. Then, take all of the ballots from the second-most-losingest candidate, and distribute the ones that haven’t yet been moved to the listed second choices, and take the ballots that were originally moved from the barrel of the most-losingest candidate into the barrel of the second-most-losingest candidate and move those to their listed third choice. Repeat as needed . . . Makes my head hurt.)

  • Lee Moore

    They do it by hand 🙂

    But they cheat sensibly – ie they guess who’s going to come first and second if they did do a full count exhaustively.

    Then they sort the ballots into first preference piles.
    Then they guess – it’s gonna be Mr A and Ms B
    Then they look at the ballots which put somebody else top, and see who’s ranked higher on those ballots (Mr A or Ms B) and allocate the ballot accordingly

    Since 90% of the time it’s obvious who the top two are, this works fine. But where the final two isn’t obvious, then it takes forever. But they don’t have to do the forever count for each district. Since each counting centers counts for several districts, that means they get to do nine “easies” per one “forever” so they still produce most of the results within a day, and most of the remainder within a few days.

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