Eleven days out from the Australian federal election and both major parties are entangled in a fierce arm wrestle to win our vote for the top job in Canberra. In a political environment where little separates the contending parties, Rudd and Abbott are flexing their muscles on major issues with policies that are playing for the worst in the people they intend to serve. Winning debates and winning votes at the risk of losing credibility and basic humanity is leaving Australian voters on the sidelines unsure which party to cheer for and the minor parties with plenty to jeer about.
So, how does one decide who to vote for?
Do I vote for the party? Party loyalty seems to be less of a priority for voters with little distinction remaining between the platform of policies of both major parties.
Do I vote for the politician? Personality based politics is getting tiresome for voters with party leaders constantly engaged in a war of words attacking each others character and credentials.
Do I vote for the policies? Policies that are more concerned with winning votes than the actual needs of people quickly lose the trust of voters who are impacted by ill-considered policies and broken election promises.
"Election campaigns are dangerous things. They're dangerous for individuals who get caught in the crossfire between political leaders, dangerous for good policy and dangerous for the credibility of politicians. They're also times when policy statements fly so thick and fast we often fail to notice matters that affect us." Ross Gittens - The Sydney Morning Herald
Growing up in a working class family in the north western suburbs of Melbourne, party loyalty was priority and was as polarized as the rivalry between Ford and Holden. Moving interstate into a position of leadership in a remote community, the local political leader became more important to me than party politics with my vote being aligned with the person who would best serve the community, regardless of their political party. Today, with an increased sensitivity towards critical issues that have national and international implications for us as global citizens, I am now more drawn towards value driven policies than party politics or political leaders.
"The crackdown on asylum seekers already in Australia has outraged the Greens and refugee advocates, with Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young likening it to an ''arms race on who can be the cruelest.''"
The shift in my voting patterns reflects a growing realisation that my vote really matters and a deep desire for my vote to make a difference! My transition from a party to political leader to policy driven vote is taking me into unknown territory this election to look beyond the two major political parties to find policies that align with my values. I find myself giving consideration to minor parties or independents as a protest against my dissatisfaction with current policies and an accountability for future policy making. What that looks like in the end remains to be seen on election day.
"Australia has much to offer to the world. We have become one of the most stable and prosperous nations on earth, but with privilege comes responsibility and the way we rise to meet these responsibilities will ultimately determine if we truly are a great nation." Family First Party
As Australian citizens we not only have the privilege to vote but the responsibility to exercise that privilege in a way that transcends party politics and political alliances towards value driven policies that will best serve the people of this nation. We must each determine our own values and discern a framework around how to come to that decision when casting our vote. For me, as a Christian wanting to see God's will done on earth as it is in heaven, I am praying the prayer of Solomon when he became king of Israel to guide my vote and to give wisdom to those contesting this election:
"Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" 1 King 3:8-9