Undecided voters and why I hate you

Dear undecided voter,

I am tired of reading about you in my newspapers and seeing endless vox pops with you on my television. I am tired of every politician in the country courting you and I am very tired of your terribly small but terribly crucial numbers. I am tired of listening to your ill-informed views, yes, ill-informed. There, I said it. Your views are ignorant. Everyone is trying to be nice to you in the hope that they win you over, but the truth is they are all tired of you too. I am tired of listening to you say how you’re a swinging voter when so often it seems you aren’t one at all. You just wanted the opportunity to suggest you’d vote for the other side so you can say how much you hate them.

I am tired of you saying you want more leadership from the major parties and what little leadership each of them has offered you have clearly been ignoring. You seem to know almost nothing of the policy debate that has happened during the election campaign and instead speak in slogans borrowed from negative advertising campaigns. I am tired of you believing in nonsense. I am tired of being patient with you about your anxiety about the goddamn boats. The boats are not a problem. Get a grip, read some facts. Kevin Rudd is also not a problem, people get pushed out from top level jobs all the time, it happens. You, undecided voter, hated him most of all. It wouldn’t matter if Tony Abbott knows the price of a litre of milk or not, I don’t and I’m a bloody mother on a budget.

I am tired of your ‘what’s in it for me?’ entitlement mentality combined with your jaded complaints about politicians lacking vision. Undecided voter, you are a big part of the reason why neither side of politics shows much leadership. Because if only, undecided voter, you were undecided for an actual reason. If only you were genuinely caught between a generous parental leave scheme and better ongoing support for childcare – that kind of conundrum we could understand. If only you were deliberating between a concern for the environment and your ability to make a profit from your farm. But instead you think in contradictions, saying things like Labor spends too much money and anyway, I want to vote for the Coalition so we get a bigger parental leave scheme. You think the Labor Party and the Liberal Party are influenced by internal interest groups but that the Greens and Family First are not. Just how is any political party expected to make sense of this? No wonder they are frozen in policy inaction.

And then after all that? When we finally come to the end of an election campaign with five weeks of your um-ing and ah-ing, what do you announce about your voting intentions? You declare that you’re voting for Labor to keep the interest rates down, or that you are voting for the Coalition because the cost of living is too high. (I am tired of you falling for bullshit). Or worse, that you are voting for Julia Gillard because you can’t quite put your finger on it but somehow she seems to want it more. Or for Tony Abbott because his voice annoys you less. Oh, undecided voter! I am so tired of you.

(Cross-posted at blue milk).

Categories: parties and factions

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20 replies

  1. Because if only, undecided voter, you were undecided for an actual reason.

    There seems to be no coherence and little-to-no effort to systematically look at what they want versus what the parties are offering. So it all ends up being done on emotional appeal.
    Emotions should be part of how people make their decisions in politics, but allowing them to end up as the ultimate decider as to which box one ticks on the day is simplyl abrogating one’s civic responsibilities to be an informed voter.

  2. I am so ready for this election thing to be over. It’s listening to ignorant soundbytes (is it soundbites or soundbytes?) that is sending me into the Red Mist. I’m just very emotionally tired.

  3. I think this is a bit unfair, actually. I think there are a lot of people who have been thinking very hard about who to vote for, and not just confining their considerations to the major parties but also looking at what everyone else has on offer and what effects their choices might have. I’ve heard more discussion about voting below the line during this election than any other I can remember. I’m sure there are a lot of people who in the end will just give up and vote for one of the big two, but it’s a mistake to think that all undecided voters are simply wavering.

    • @Camilla, bluemilk addressed the undecideds who are genuinely weighing up policies in the post. Those aren’t the undecideds she’s taking issue with.

  4. You can blame them. They deserve our scorn.
    But the goat*%&*ed media in Australia, who make it all a game, and pretend that absolutely nothing matters except some entertaining personality game, deserve more of our hate. They have a responsibility – they are the oxygen to democracy’s candle – and they have suffocated us time and again.
    Stupid people I can forgive. The media, I can’t.

  5. Clap clap clappy clap clap. Well said. Though political apathy isn’t limited to swinging voters. There are plenty of people who don’t think about politics but just vote along party lines because that’s what their parents did. (Not that you’re suggesting otherwise, I’m just saying that the problem isn’t limited to one high-visibility group.)

  6. Blue Milk, part of the enormous problem in this country where voting is compulsory, is that there is no requirement whatsoever to be educated or informed about the political process. It is petrifying that an astonishing number of people have absolutely no idea how parliament works or the actual policies and manifestoes of political parties yet are made to vote or else cop a fine. Before coming up with a citizenship test we should have come up with a Voter test.
    George mentions the media, which is the other enormous problem we have in this country. A problem that Anglo Australians who by and large are monolinguist have very, very little concept of.
    There is much talk about all and sundry about ‘our wonderful democracy’ and how wonderful Australia is-we want to keep it that way-, yet there is no insight at all what actually living in a democracy entails and the responsibilities that come with it. From a political process educated populace to a vigorous free and independent media, Australia is extremely poor and getting poorer..
    Ending up with a hung parliament just might be what is needed to illustrate the importance of debate and policy making.
    Personally, I think that the day of monolithic one party governance is way past its use-by date. Maybe that’s because I’m more familiar with the effectiveness of government made up of broader coalitions than here. Coalitions determined by the voters, not of the cosy Lib-Nat type, which is not a coalition in my book at all. Why do NP voters get reps into government just because the Libs cannot get the numbers by themselves?

  7. Yvonne: A ‘voter test’, like a ‘licence to be a parent’, is one of those ideas that some people find superficially attractive, until they actually think it through. Tests privilege people who are already privileged as a result of various advantages they gained by chance. No matter what safeguards you care to try to name, civics test requirement before voting would be guaranteed, in practice, to disproportionately disenfranchise the most disadvantaged groups in our society – the poorest people, people with disabilities, people in severely abusive situations, people who are stretched completely thin already caring for themselves and others, people for whom English is a second language, many Indigenous people, and so on. In Australia, it would be a fabulous way to guarantee that the most conservative, far-right-wing arseholes would retain government indefinitely.
    OK, admittedly a few people do continue to find the idea attractive even after thinking it through. Those are people I prefer not to associate with.
    Across-the-board, comprehensive civics education in all schools starting from early on? That I can get on board with.

  8. Lauredhel, my frustrated sarcasm didn’t carry over very well as you are taking me to task on the’ voter test’. It was meant well and truly tongue in cheek. I’ve got to learn how to use those emoticons!
    I actually feel very, very strongly about compulsory voting. It is an extremely powerful method of ensuring some semblance of inclusiveness between ALL citizens. You mentioned some of those who quickly become disenfranchised. Some years back I did a paper for Uni re compulsory voting, which dispelled any notion of any benefit whatsoever of making voting voluntary. Making voting compulsory though, is not enough. An educated populace and a vigorous media is equally important.
    I am very familiar with the Netherlands. Voting used to be compulsory until 1974. Now we have a generation who have grown up without having to vote. It is upsetting to see certain groups are turning up to the polls less and less frequently.
    When I went to High school, it was compulsory to attend classes, that were not part of one’s assessment, but taught on issues in society, including politics and ethics. That is what is necessary here. Not what to think, but why do I think that this is a good thing. How do I support my opinion. Not, my parents/good friend votes this way and calls people who vote differently: morons, stupid and worse and I don’t want them to think that of me.
    Education is not only about learning to read and count and getting that mark to get into Uni, but also about learning about the society one lives in, the wider society and civic responsibilities, or even if there is or should be such a thing. My youngest is in year 11, she was asked by a friend last Friday who is a straight A student, expected to graduate with the highest mark ask: Who is Tony Abbott? That, to me is an indictment of our education system as much as that there are young people functionally illerate when education is also compulsory.

  9. Interesting that you should use the word, “populace”, Yvonne. On a bare meaning, it refers to the group of people in a particular place, the population / inhabitants of a place. But the nuance is a little different. It has overtones of a mob or a rabble, or of the lower classes… “the princess distributing largess to the populace.” There’s a touch of condescension about it.
    I don’t think that you intended to use it in that way at all. But there are some curious resonances with the idea of needing to educate the people…
    On the other hand, I totally agree with the idea of civics classes, and the need for people to be well informed, and to take their civic responsibilities.
    The gripping hand? Well, I suspect that the donkey vote distributes itself more or less evenly.

  10. Just another day in Paradise, while Pakistan drowns in septic floods and Afghanistan hides stone age fundamentalist fanatics, Australia argues about the price of a cup of coffee. Oh, and maybe the value of democracy, if it doesn’t interfere with the value of real estate and watching a cooking program on the telly.
    China might buy our dirt and sell it back to us as expensive or cheap toys, while the real politics of population is lost on Australias insular views.
    We were the lucky country, in true meaning of irony. Incompetence can only get a country so far when natural advantages provide an idyllic lifestyle for the wealthy and the dole bludger .
    Meanwhile the humble “working family” taxpayers are struggling to make a life worth living without drinking themselves to death.
    Oh well, at least the coffee’s here, let’s forget this political nonsense and enjoy the view.

  11. @Deborah, sorry to note that my use of the word populace disturbed you. I have learned English in other countries than Australia. I didn’t think that my post could be construed as condescending.
    Isn’t language isn’t interesting?! Goes to prove my point though, that education is not just about learning to read and write. What you read maybe totally different to what another person reads, from region to region, country to country. Even between English speaking ones, let me tell you.

  12. @Tigtog: I’ve read the post through twice more and I can’t see where blue milk is making the distinction between the thinking and non-thinking undecideds. To me it still reads as a bit of a blanket statement. My apologies if I’m missing something that’s obvious to other readers.

    • This part:

      Because if only, undecided voter, you were undecided for an actual reason. If only you were genuinely caught between a generous parental leave scheme and better ongoing support for childcare – that kind of conundrum we could understand. If only you were deliberating between a concern for the environment and your ability to make a profit from your farm.

      She explicitly exempts people who have a genuine conundrum from her condemnation.

  13. Blood oath. But there are worse folk even. My knuckleheaded ex arrived on my doorstep on Saturday morning to visit the kids. He had forgotten about having to vote so we ambled up to the local school where he was to put in an absentee vote. We sat down over lunch and I asked him how he had voted. He said “On the big white sheet I just put 2 numbers down the bottom cause I didn’t want to fill it all in.” I had assumed that his primary vote would be for Labor, so I went red in the face and got pretty angry, until he told me he had voted for the Shooters & Fishing Party. Crisis averted.

  14. @Tigtog: Thanks for that. I didn’t read it that way – to me it comes across as an assessment of all those people labelling themselves “undecided” as not having good reason to do so.
    I’m happy to stand corrected though. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • It’s how I read it, Camilla – I’m sure at least partly because I’ve been reading blue milk for a long time, and I just don’t see how she would argue in the way that you saw it.
      Also because I have read her for a long time, I saw this as much more of a spray against the media stereotype of the undecided voter as slackjawed gawkers only wanting to see the media’s soap opera narrative of the election, too. Where was the MSM giving people sensible analysis which they could seriously consider and use to come to an informed decision? They just weren’t doing it, because the faceless editors decided that “undecided” voters were all just going to vote with their kneejerks according to the latest twists in the storyline, so what they needed to do was keep the soap opera coming.

  15. I don’t think all undecideds are the same. Some of you are quite reasonable undecideds with good reasons for your states of indecision and unfortunately none of you volunteered to appear on TV or to be interviewed in the newspapers. I looked, because I wanted to get to know you better, but I never found you there. Can’t say that I blame you though.
    And to be fair, I am also pretty annoyed with plenty of the decideds too. Wrong decision, decideds, wrong. But that is another post entirely.

  16. …unfortunately none of you volunteered to appear on TV or to be interviewed in the newspapers.
    @blue milk: Perhaps they did, but perhaps the media chose not to air the opinions of people who’d put some thought into it, because it didn’t serve their interests as per presenting the stereotype mentioned by Tigtog.
    I suspect you would have had better luck finding substantial thought and discussion in the blogosphere, rather than in the media. At least that way you’re getting someone’s actual thoughts, rather than what the media filters through its own biases.

  17. Whoops, apologies for my ineptitude with coding that quote.

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