Commentary on so many major issues challenging the Anglo-cultural world of Great Britain, the U.S.A and Australia throws up the words- ‘divide’, ‘divided’ and ‘division’, again and again. Recent issues such as Brexit, Climate Change Action and Race Relations diverge opinions along party political lines.
It is so easy to talk in terms of ‘black and white’, no shades of grey when the choices are ‘binary’ i.e just two options, choice A or choice B. And for these 3 nations we share the same, very strange belief that we have ‘democracies’ at the pinnacle of human accomplishment, despite the fact that we offer voters only two real outcomes at election time which is just a little bit better than one party states like China or North Korea.
What we fail to realise is that division is permanently entrenched in our ‘two party’ systems; these systems are dysfunctional and the expectation of a non –contentious outcome at every election is farcical.
Without truly representative parliaments we suffer the same divisive politics that have held us back for so long, delivering outcomes that seem at odds with the general sentiment of society. We need Proportional Representation to deliver multiparty Parliaments in direct proportion to the will of the people. For us in Australia, this would require only minor changes to the Electoral Act and a directive to the Australian Electoral Commission to enact these changes.
We could join the happy club of real democracies such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden and others. Trust and appreciation in our politicians could be built in the knowledge that we actively put them there, rather than by default when we currently choose the party we dislike the least at election time.
With lots of ideas and opinions in a multiparty parliament, real debate would occur when society is challenged and decisions need to be made in the best interest of all. Currently the staleness and predictability of our two parties stifles any interest the public has in our political system, yet it is of such profound importance to our day to day lives. In recent years politics has been focussed on the internal factional battles and leadership coups with policies and National direction taking third place. Yet, despite our outrage, there seems to be a broad societal shrug and acceptance that this is just ‘how it is’.
It is so disturbing and disheartening to see regular opinion pieces on the ABC website, by academics and seasoned journalists, regularly bemoaning the state of our politics and ‘democracy’ and yet no one seems to make the connection between our dysfunctional system and the repeated negative outcomes it produces. Someone once commented that repeating the same failed action again and again and expecting a different outcome is a sign of madness but that is precisely what our society does each election time. The wheel does not have to be reinvented, there are good examples of successful democracies to learn from, but when will the ‘penny drop’ for us to see that our political system does not serve us?