Generation X has got to vote smarter.
Allow me to present my case, Your Honour:
The prosecution rests.
While these self-inflicted wounds where courtesy of the Baby Boomers, the results wouldn’t have been possible if Gen X hadn’t voted like Boomers in embarrassingly large numbers.
In fact, if Gen X voted like our wiser, more idealistic millennials, we would have had different results on all three continents.
Which would have meant Australia would have got its long-awaited energy policy and climate action, the UK would have stayed in the EU making them both stronger, and the US wouldn’t be starting trade wars, undermining the rules-based order and joyfully accelerating its own decline.
And we probably wouldn’t be preparing for another global economic slow down.
But, apart from that, Gen X votes don’t matter… No big deal at all…
Do Money Trees Grow in Cow Poo?
As election campaigning begins in Australia, the political swamp-tide is rising around us.
Fast-talking political ads have contaminated the media, breaking out in boils and sores of spin and slander. Unsuspecting babies are pounced upon by posing politicians, their humanity not seen since the last election.
Politicians long past their used-by dates, beg jaded voters to take them back, “You know I’ve always loved you, baby, you’re the only one…”.
The contenders – skeletons barely contained in closets – white wash away their sordid pasts and point to brighter days ahead. They assure us we’re just one vote away from boom-times and McMansions with money trees in every front yard.
The nation groans, holds its babies a little tighter and prays election day comes soon.
The Least Worst
But we have to vote for someone.
So how do we cut through the lies and desperation to find the candidate that is doing the best job of pretending to care?
Or, more accurately, how do we identify the politicians that are multi-skilled enough to tend to their grandiosity AND ruthlessly pursue their career ambitions while destroying old private-school rivals AND maintain the illusion they’re ‘leading’ the country through increasingly challenging times?
I’m glad you (probably didn’t) ask.
Fortunately, In The Meantime is all about helping. So, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide to help Gen Xers find their ideal least-crap candidate to vote for.
The Generation X Guide to Finding the Least Crap Candidate.
First, you’ll need to decide which candidate is least likely to trample on your values in pursuit of party politics, expedience or self promotion.
So you need to know what your values are. And you’ll need to resist the urge to sell them out for election sweeteners, like tax cuts. This is surprisingly hard do.
Let’s say you value fairness, helping those who need it, leaving a functioning planet for your children, and protecting your family. A pretty reasonable set of values, among others.
Then the campaign gets going. Politicians rip into each other about illegal immigrants, traumatise voters with the threat of crime and terrorism, and promise us everything from very fast trains to affordable housing.
We forget all about those values, none of which are mentioned in the campaign, and we end up voting for the candidate that’s finally going to add another lane to that carpark of a main road we take to work everyday.
Once we’ve picked our candidate on values, we need to road test them.
If we want to know how our candidate will perform if elected, we can look at how they have previously performed. Many pollies have a long history in the public eye. And their records belie their promises.
The question to ask is: Are they good at policy or just politics?
Policy is what helps you, politics is what helps them.
Some of our ‘best’ politicians have achieved almost nothing over decades in politics.
Know who they owe.
All politicians owe someone for helping them get to where they are. It’s the nature of politics.
Some small parties, independents and single-issue campaigners are fairly transparent. They’re allegiances are pretty clear, they’ll be supporting certain types of causes (like climate change) or business interests (like farmers). They owe their supporters and lobby groups in those sectors and will act in their interests.
The bigger party candidates will owe several masters. The better you understand these masters, the more you’ll be able to predict how they’ll act in power.
For example, large party candidates will belong to a faction within the party that has already decided its views on social issues (seeing them through a progressive or conservative lens), economic issues (through a social or market lens) or environmental (scientific or commercial lens).
They will be entirely immoveable and unresponsive to your views on these issues.
That’s why, for example, Liberal voters have for years and years been unable to persuade their party to act on climate change despite overwhelming public support.
Big party politicians also owe entities like banks, unions, industry sectors, lobby groups and media moguls (budding political leaders skulk off to New York before an election to seek Rupert Murdoch’s blessing).
If you don’t like who your candidate is in bed with, then keep shopping for another.
Get reliable information.
Journalism generally leans a little to the left (because most journos are university educated).
The best quality journalism is in the political centre, slightly left or right.
Toward the far left and particularly the far right, the quality drops and the shrillness increases. Out there on the fringes, there is a near-permanent state of outrage. They play on people’s fears, build hysteria and offer simple solutions that emotionally feel right.
Regardless, people’s political views are not strongly affected by the media. We tend to read from media sources that reinforce the views we already have.
We live in an echo chamber on either the left or right of politics.
This is especially true if you’re silly enough to get your news from social media – the poorest quality and most easily manipulated source of news.
So how to get reliable news?
- Look to high quality, impartial (political centre) media to get the facts (like announcements on tax cuts or accepted facts on climate change).
- Look to both left and right media sources for analysis of the facts (social impacts of the tax cuts, effects of a particular climate policy).
Here’s a map of Australian media sources:
- Read critically. Think about the source of the information (Fox News is conservative, Guardian is progress, etc) and adjust for biases. Watch for tricks of logic – false premises, conclusions that overreach, etc. Some commentators, like Australia’s Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones, are masters of arguing by sleight of hand. And forget about news at either the left or right extremes.
So there you have it.
Hope that helps, and good luck surviving the election, Generation X.
Not tired of politics yet? This post explains why politicians lie and why we let them.
Or if you just want a laugh, here’s a post on how to get your teen to clean up their room…
But if you really want to feel good, here’s how to retire early.
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