Some random adventures on Youtube

Kevin Rudd went on Q and A on Monday night, ostensibly to debate Tony Abbott, who wasn’t there. No-one really expected him to be there, because Tony Abbott realised a few years ago that he looks more stupid when he’s talking than when he’s on his bike or in his budgie smugglers. Which is saying something.

Anyway, Kevin Rudd’s response to one of the questions on Q and A has “gone viral”, according to the ABC. It wasn’t Obama in full flight but it was a good response to an increasingly outdated view, and you can watch it here. It’s the most watched Kevin Rudd video on Youtube.

Last year, of course, Julia Gillard’s attack on the “misogynist” Abbott also went viral. It was praised around the world and pilloried in Australia, which should hardly be surprising. It has far more views and likes and comments on Youtube than any other piece of Australian political anything. It’s right from the heart, mostly off the cuff, and very impressive.

So, I wondered, just how many Youtube results do you have to trawl through before you find Tony saying something impressive.

You have to go down a long way.

Past Tony being called out by Leigh Sales.

Past the bloke who called Tony a dickhead in a shop one day.

Past the time Tony stared weirdly and threateningly at a reporter who asked him a question. For ages.

Past the time Craig Reucassel pointed out that Tony didn’t understand the first thing about debt.

Past a whole series of GetUp ads that do nothing more than put Tony’s words into the mouths of ordinary Australians.

Past Paul Keating’s views on Tony.

Past Kerry O’Brien trying to work out when Tony is to be listened to and when he isn’t.

Past the time he hit on the apprentice at the factory he was visiting.

Past Keating again.

At this point – towards the end of the second page of results at just over 70 000 views – I thought there might finally have been a video of Abbott saying something intelligent, as I came across something titled “Tony Abbott Grand Slam”.

But it turned out to be former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser’s turn to put the boot in.

So we continue, past Tony walking away from questions at his own press conferences.

Past Tony being kicked out of parliament.

Past Independent MP Tony Windsor’s views on Tony.

Past Tony trying to run out of parliament.

And so on, until eventually, at the bottom of the third page of Youtube hits, with just over 30 000 views, we get something promising to be “a classy, fiery display of modern political oratory.” Watch it and weep, Australia.

(By the way, I’m following Tony’s precedent here, and as far as I’m concerned he has neither a title nor a surname.)

(And also, if you’d rather not click on all those links you can sit back and relax with Tony Abbott the Movie instead.)

The irony of it all

So Tony Abbott will be Prime Minister, it seems, because the nation hates Labor. Not necessarily because of any of Labor’s policies, or their successes or failure, but because of who they are. Because of what they represent. Because they fought with each other for almost all their six years in power, and couldn’t put their petty squabbles aside in the interests of the nation.

In short, we as a nation are going to go out in droves and vote Labor out of power over a petty squabble between ourselves and Labor.

We are going to condemn Labor for its personality, its failure to sell its policies through an openly hostile mainstream media, and because it doesn’t seem to be led by good honest Aussie blokes, but by politicians.

Wouldn’t you think the nation could put the personal bickering aside for just one moment and focus on the interests of…itself?

Wouldn’t you think that just once since the 2010 election we could have forgotten how much we hated Labor, or Gillard, or Rudd, and just tried to work together for the sake of our own future?

Nope. Not Labor, and not us either.

We hate Labor so much they have already made up our mind to elect an alternative prime minister who hasn’t even released all his policies yet. He’s released some good ones, the vote-winning kind, the ones that spend heaps of our money, but nowhere near enough of the ones that save money. Isn’t that what we’re meant to hate about Labor, the way they spend too much of our money and don’t save enough?

We hate Labor so much that we are willing to have what would be one of the most important and enduring infrastructure updates in the nation’s recent history torn out of the ground, and replaced by another few decades of internet that is about as fast as you can get on a mobile phone in a capital city today, in 2013.

We hate Labor so much we are prepared to dismantle an emissions trading scheme that represents our best, and possibly only, chance to make a serious contribution as a nation to the global fight against climate change. We voted overwhelmingly for this scheme in 2007, we voted for it again in 2010 – though the novelty of the hung parliament and a few slips of the tongue by the then-prime minister made that kind of hard for us to understand – and finally, after several years of hard work by Labor to get it up and running, we are going to get rid of it. Because we hate Labor.

But we have morals, and we take the good with the bad. When we get rid of the ETS we’re also going to hand back the Labor bribes that we were given to compensate for it. We’re not going to stand for Labor’s Robin Hood act of taking money from rich polluters and putting it back in our pockets to help pay for any costs that are passed on. Oh no, we’re going to throw back our compensation payments, slash that income tax-free threshold back down to $6000 and each pay a couple of thousand dollars more tax, because we hate Labor. And if it hurts, it won’t hurt, because that’s just the price of hurting Labor.

We’re not new to this, of course. When Labor tried to put a tax on poker machine profits so that the money spent by problem gamblers could be redirected to serve the best interests of the nation, we rose up as one and condemned them, because we hate them. We did the same when they tried to play Robin Hood again and take money from the richest of the rich miners like Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart, people who we identify with because they are good Australians and worked hard for their fortunes. We even managed to stop Labor from passing laws to make the media a little more honest with us, in part because we hate them, and in part because Rupert Murdoch is a great Australian bloke, and has done far more for this nation than Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard will ever do.

And no-one would ever call us inconsistent. We have faith. We don’t listen to facts, or rational argument, or Labor propaganda, because we hate Labor. When Kevin Rudd speaks we turn off the TV, put our fingers in our ears and run outside, because you can never be far enough away from the stench of Labor. When people tell us to take a step back, think about our nation’s future and what we could do to improve it, what an ideal Australia would look like, we stop them right there. We can spot a brainwashed Labor stooge a mile off. This is the Australia we want to live in, and Labor is taking it away from us.

So when we go to the polls on Saturday, we’ll vote Liberal, National, Abbott, Hockey, Palmer, Katter, even Sophie Mirabella. We’ll vote for anyone who hates Labor, because anyone who hates Labor is our friend.

Except the Greens, because they hate jobs.

The one-quadrant election

So there’s an election campaign going on in Australia. While there are over fifty parties contesting, Australian elections are reduced in the eyes of the media and most of the electorate to a contest between the only two contestants likely to form government: Kevin Rudd’s Labor Party, which swings between centre-left and centre-right on the traditionally unrevealing two-dimensional political axis, and the Liberal/National Coalition, led by Tony Abbott, which swings between centre-a-bit-less-left and centre-a-bit-more-right.

There’s a whole reason that it happens that way, which for now we can leave at “what people are used to”, “what’s in the papers” and “where the money’s at”. While people would probably have a better chance of finding a party that represented their interests if they had more exposure to minor parties like the Greens, the High Speed Rail Party, the Pirate Party or the Sex Party, they also don’t want to waste their vote, which is exactly what a vote for a minor party in a two-horse race feels like. (Of course, preferential voting means it’s actually impossible to “waste your vote” in an Australian election, but many people don’t seem to know that, and less than 3% of us can be bothered to order the hundred-or-so candidates on the senate ballot paper). So despite the plethora of options on the table, we have two-party elections, two-party coverage, two-party polling, two-party debates, two-party campaigns and a two-party parliament, at least in the lower house.

All this should make life pretty easy. To vote, all you have to do is draw up (or think up) a little plane with four quadrants, like this (okay, wordpress isn’t helping me out, but I’m sure you know what it’s meant to look like):

Pros Cons

And then you start to fill it in. After about a minute of brainstorming and quick jotting, mine looks like this:

Pros Cons
Labor Good NBN plans
Pretty decent economic management
Incumbency and unfinished plans
Get to keep some kind of ETS
Narcissistic leader
Can leader work with his team?
Dehumanisation of asylum seekers
Coalition Really generous PPL scheme
Historically decent economic management
Too generous PPL scheme?
Crazy backward leader who wants to turn Australia into the 1950s
Rude, personal attacks on Gillard govt
Incompetent shadow cabinet
Seriously flawed environmental policy
Dehumanisation of asylum seekers
Christopher Pyne

Yours might look different, depending on where you read your news and what you think is important, yours might be in your head, on a piece of paper, spoken out loud and thought about, whatever. But you have a basic knowledge of what the options are, and what voting for each side would mean, good or bad. Then as the campaign goes on you go back to that list, real or virtual, and you think about what’s important, and what’s not, and you add to the list, circle some things, cross others off, whittle it down, get a good feeling about one side or the other, and on September 7 you go in and vote. It’s kind of like buying a fridge, or a house, or whatever newfandangled gadgets people buy these days.

Now here I belatedly get to my point: this election, no-one seems to be doing any of this. This is the plane of a guy I worked with earlier this year:

Pros Cons
Labor Pink Batts Great Big Tax Worst Government Ever Backstabbing Bitch Stimulus Spending What a Waste of Money Mining Tax Doesn’t Work NBN What a Waste of Money Great Big Tax Worst Government Ever 300 Billion Dollars of Debt Can’t Be Trusted Another Boat Every Day Corrupt Incompetent Fools Craig Thompson Eddie Obeid Julia Gillard has Questions to Answer Set Top Boxes What a Waste of Money Worst Government Ever Great Big Tax
Coalition Not Labor

Don’t worry, my Enter key wasn’t stuck, I am trying to be faithful to his verbal diarrhoea. And yes, lots of those things don’t make sense, but leave that aside for a second. But does it sound familiar? You might have heard it from Alan Jones, or the Liberal Party, or the Courier Mail, or the Daily Telegraph, or your cousin (not going to link that one), or any of Rupert Murdoch’s Papers, or Miranda Devine, or a meme on social media, or somewhere else. In fact Media Watch gave us a revealing breakdown on monday night, so if you rely on the Daily Telegraph for your news (like my colleague did, for example) I can guess that your plane looks something like this:

Pros Cons
Labor 3% 55%
Coalition 19% 4%

The thing I don’t get is how happy some people seem to be, beaming about going straight to the polls armed with their one-quadrant-full of information (to be fair, they should by now also know a little about the Coalition’s strengths, if they’ve been keeping up with their Telegraph), ready to kick out the “worst government ever” and replace it with “good Aussie Bloke” Tony. Ask almost any question to these people, and the answer will come from the goldmine that is the “cons of Labor” quadrant. They don’t need to know anything else, they don’t want to know anything else. Labor is bad, end of story.

I think this attitude is stupid. I think it’s irresponsible. I think that every Australian should sit down before they vote and think about the pros and cons of either side, and if they can’t think of any, think why the fuck not? If they can’t put one of Tony Abbott’s real solutions in any box, anywhere, because he hasn’t actually told us what it is yet, they should think why the fuck not?

And speaking of why the fuck not, high speed rail, anyone?