Hoodwinked into voting for the status quo

Now we’re getting closer to an election day on which the Greens could finally win a lower house seat, the national media are working hard to publicise (but not give the Greens a chance to respond to) some of the more ill-informed reasons for potential Greens voters to abandon the party.

1. Too “risky”: what if it put Tony Abbott in the Lodge?

“I’m a bit torn,” [Liam Clancy] said. “I would love to vote for the Greens but it would be a really bad move in a seat where your vote might make a difference.”

Why not Greens?

“If they were to win that might mean Tony Abbott would be in charge of the country. I will certainly be voting for the Greens in the Senate,” he said.

So, you’re voting very tactically then?

“F*** yeah.”

That doesn’t make even the slightest amount of sense. What does Mr Clancy envisage happening if Adam Bandt wins the seat and it’s the seat that chooses the Prime Minister? The Greens forming a Coalition with the Liberals and Nationals? Really? Does he really think that is in any way a possibility? What does he base that theory on?

Has Mr Clancy ever actually met a Greens party member?

“Tactical voting” indeed. This isn’t the US, mate.

We’ve already discussed how it’s actually slightly more likely, in terms of preferences (but still extremely unlikely), that voting ALP could get a Liberal candidate over the line (and really help Abbott), but that’s not Mr Clancy’s concern. His concern is that a Greens MP would somehow put Tony Abbott in the Lodge, despite everything they’ve ever said or done. If anyone shares Mr Clancy’s theory, I’d love to hear them explain how it works in their heads. Because it is the complete opposite of what would happen.

In summary: voting Green and preferencing Labor is the strongest anti-Abbott vote.

2. Not enough chance of them getting into power:

“I have voted Greens in the past,” Nathan said, “but they don’t really seem to get anywhere. I normally vote for them because I don’t like the others

Well, they’re not going to get into power if people don’t vote for them, Nathan. If you “don’t like the others” but vote for them anyway, why would they ever change?

People who vote for the big old parties regardless of what they actually do are the people who are to blame for the big old parties being the way they are.

And if you’re worried about your vote being “wasted” – well, as we’ve discussed, it’s actually a much stronger progressive anti-Abbott vote than a straight Labor vote. If the Greens candidate is elected, then you have a progressive representative in Canberra who has a vote in parliament (as opposed to an ALP member who votes the way their party tells them). If the Greens candidate isn’t, then your second preference vote goes to whichever party you put next, AT FULL VALUE.

3. Their candidate in Melbourne is not a woman.

I think some Australians are a bit narrow-minded when it comes to change. I know a lot do prefer a man in power. I will vote for the ALP on the grounds that it’s a woman.”

Well, Adam Bandt isn’t a woman, it’s true, and the ALP has preselected a woman in the seat. But so what? The Greens have been a stronger voice for women in parliament than either of the two major parties, and a much higher proportion of their MPs are women. The vast majority of the ALP and Liberal parties are men, not women.

4. “They preference their votes to Labor”

Natalie had considered voting Green but decided not to. “They campaign for teen rights,” she said. “I read something about it in the paper and disagreed with that – and I also realised they preferenced their votes to Labor.”

I don’t understand the preference thing as a reason to vote for or against a party at all – you can choose your own bloody preferences – except inasmuch as it tells you something about that party’s principles. The Liberals and Nationals are preferencing Family First above everyone – that’s right, a party whose lead Senate candidate in Queensland thinks “legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse”. Sure, you don’t have to follow the LNP preferences either, but it tells you something about their attitudes that they’d rather put those people above anyone else.

Meanwhile, with the Greens and Labor – who else does Natalie think they should preference? The Liberals? Family First? 80% of Greens voters preference Labor anyway, so why shouldn’t the default (and, crucially, entirely optional for voters) ticket represent that?

I don’t understand what Natalie’s issue with the preferences really is, and I suspect she doesn’t either. Is she a conservative who wishes they’d help Tony Abbott? Is she a progressive who wishes they’d keep “pure”, not issue a ticket and thereby not win any seats whatsoever because the vast majority of Australians are not willing to vote below the line? What exactly does Natalie want?

(Nor do I know what she means about the “teen rights” thing and why she “disagreed” with it, but I’d bet fairly good money the paper that confused her was the Herald Sun.)

5. The Greens “don’t really stand for anything”

This is a strange charge, since the Greens are usually attacked for standing for too much. (Can’t you people just be satisfied with the way things are?) But the saddest thing about this gentleman is that all the issues he says are important – processing asylum seekers humanely here, better funding of education and healthcare, more funding for TAFE and practical education – these are all Greens priorities, much more than Labor’s.

I suggest he goes to http://greens.org.au/policies – I suspect he’ll find that the Greens are much better advocates for his views than any of the alternatives. (Hopefully someone who knows Simon Carter will by now have pointed this out to him.)

Why this matters

It’s fairly frustrating seeing people who, if they were voting on their principles, would appear to be best represented by the Greens, being scared off by concerns that are really easily contradicted and resolved – if only they actually get to talk to a Green.

Which I suppose is the point of this post (I doubt Liam, Natalie and Simon are reading political blogs like this one): please, all of you who’d like to see progressive policies in parliament, get out there and talk to people. The Greens are a growing but presently comparatively underfunded smaller party that relies heavily on volunteers going out there and being a point of contact for wavering voters. Door-knocking. Delivering leaflets. Handing out HTVs at pre-polling stations and on election day. Just talking with your friends, particularly the ones you know hold progressive values, and seeing if they’ve been deterred from voting for the Greens by some kind of misunderstanding, like the people above, and either answering their queries or directing them to someone who can.

Because it’s important. If the people who believe we can do better are successfully hoodwinked into voting for the status quo, then how will anything ever change?

UPDATE 12/8: I should’ve known! The anti-Greens quote in the snippet above was, apparently, a mis-quote of young Mr Cooper by the Herald Sun, who reportedly said no such thing.

13 responses to “Hoodwinked into voting for the status quo

  1. Good work deconstructing a typically awful Punch beat-up.

    Another point worth considering is that electoral funding is determined by first preferences. So you can think of your first pref as a $4 donation to the party you choose (assuming you vote for a party that gets enough votes to qualify for funding). The big parties get a lot of corporate and union support; the Greens rely mostly on personal donations.

    On the issue of gender, the Greens have a majority of women (3/5) in the Senate now, and will most likely continue to do so after the election (probably 5/8 if recent polls can be believed). The big parties have substantial male majorities.

  2. I wonder how many opinions the press have to throw out to get the rhetoric they desire.

  3. Sigh. I can’t help thinking that a lot of these vox-pops are being planted by the Young Labor and Young Liberal spin machines specifically to turn people off voting Green. Somehow I just can’t see genuine young voters volunteering such silly comments.

  4. Splatterbottom

    the biggest reason for not voting Green in NSW is Lee Rhiannon. She is the rotten red flesh inside the ostensibly green watermelon.

  5. alexanderwhite

    If Adam Bandtz gets elected, he will be yet another straight, white male lawyer going to Parliament. Hardly historic, especially since Michael Organ was the first ever Green elected to the Federal House of Reps. Adam Bandtz is just a serial candidate who’s past his use-by date.

    Cath Bowtell not only would be a strong progressive voice in the ALP caucus, but she actually has a record of achieving things for working people.

  6. alexanderwhite

    Also, it’s hardly a “hoodwink” that a journalist struggled to find Greens supporters in Melbourne. Even if the Greens Party ends up with a very high vote, it will still be less than 30% primary.

    Labor on the other hand gets a primary vote of just under 50%. So more people support Labor than Greens (our preference system not withstanding).

  7. Stunningly original contribution from SB – the Greens are crypt0-commies.

  8. jordanrastrick

    “Sigh. I can’t help thinking that a lot of these vox-pops are being planted by the Young Labor and Young Liberal spin machines specifically to turn people off voting Green. Somehow I just can’t see genuine young voters volunteering such silly comments.”

    See, here’s where you and for that matter Jeremy and lots of others get tripped up. You assume that, because you’re young, progressive and politically astute, that other young progressives are all politically astute (or for that matter that all young politically astute people are progressive.)

    The fact is most voters don’t really understand the preference system, or have much in-depth knowledge of parties’ platforms, etc.

    Vox pops will reflect this, even when you’re asking uni students in Melbourne rather than workers in Macarthur.

  9. Somehow I just can’t see genuine young voters volunteering such silly comments.

    How many young people do you know? Most of my workplace are under 30s, and too many of them have no idea about preferencing. Plus they get their “news” from the 7pm Project alone *shudder*

  10. As I followed a link to the jaw dropping The Top 12 Reasons To Burn A Quran On 9/11 website it occurred to me that this blog’s commentators absolutely have to be able to pass judgment on this link! http://hubpages.com/hub/The-12-Top-Reasons-To-Burn-A-Quran-On-911

  11. Deputy Wonderland

    “(Hopefully someone who knows Simon Carter will by now have pointed this out to him.)”

    He didn’t actually say that the Greens stand for nothing. He didn’t mention asylum seekers to the reporter either. I won’t quote him here without his permission but he was pretty pissed at the reporter for what appeared in the paper.

  12. I am a close friend of Simon’s, and a green voter. The arrogance of many of you in the comments, and in the article itself concerns me. He has many reasons for voting labour, and all of them are perfectly justified (if you think it is possible to justify a viewpoint other than your own).

    What is of concern here is that you have taken comments interpreted by a herald sun reporter at face value. How stupid can you possibly get? It is quite sad really. Have any of you ever been interviewed? Do you know what happens? Or do you just assume. Well there are many assumptions here, like the one that this blog wouldn’t get read by people like Simon…

    Also you seem to think we are some kind of chance in Melbourne – and that the papers have an anti green agenda to try and stop this. Here is my take on the issue…

    1. We will not win Melbourne – be realistic. To win a seat generally requires that we get over 30% of the primary, and we wont. We were not close to that last time, and we were received a present of 800 votes from ze donkey (second on the ballot after some nonsense party I recall). The swing required is too large. We will get there eventually, and with what I expect to be increased representation (and power) in the upper house, people will start considering us as a tenable alternative. We will not win this seat though. Dont blame the media. Blame the reality of our system (one that a few of you seem to think young people do not understand).

    2. Funny that you pay out on the media claiming they are anti green and are hoodwinking people (naughty media), and then believe the representation they give of the people in it. NICE LOGIC THERE… Only trust quotes next time please. Use some basic common sense. It is the HERALD SUN FFS.

    3. The problem here, is that you assume that all papers are anti green… The Age has a pro green agenda. They love us. Look at the amount of publicity recently, and in the past. They want us to win Melbourne badly, and are trying their best to make it happen. But, we are prepared to ignore that and assume that people have been hoodwinked into not voting for the greens?? What about all those Age readers hoodwinked into voting green (oh but thats right, our side is incapable of hoodwinking anyone. We are and always will be the good guys standing on a high ground of infallible decency)…

    I am a green voter, but not a blind follower. Some of you need to understand the value of that.

  13. I was retorting to the opinions expressed in the article. If those aren’t Simon’s, then good for him.

    He may well have good reasons for voting Labor over the Greens. It’s just that none of them were described.

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