What matters more – the people or the party?

The last week in government and politics, both state and federal has given rise to much debate, anger and if anything has strengthened the public opinions of certain people. But after watching the Tony Abbott Australia Day debacle and the Queensland election campaign, it’s made me ask the question, what do Australians really care about? Is it the people or the party?

For years Australia’s two major parties have been easily stereotyped for their policies and the campaigns that go along with it. The Australian Labor party is the party for the people. They’ve made a name by fighting for the working class Australians and this has been a reoccurring element throughout the campaigns in history. This is great but the only foreseeable problem is that their policies, which are aimed at keeping Australians happy, employed, healthy with as little financial worry as possible, are also hugely expensive and their idea of funding has seen countless governments end up in severe debt.

Conversely, the Australian Liberal party has always been a party for the economic strength of the state or country. Their policies have been about restoring financial balance and strength in the country so it in turn can eventually help the people by keeping them happy, employed and healthy – as long as the country can afford it. Again, this seems great but the big problem is that this macroeconomic approach seems harsh to the average Australian and their policies that ultimately are aimed at building a better Australia for the people are perceived to be bullying, taking from the poor man to feed the rich man.

The thing is, there is intrinsically very little that actually makes the parties different. It all comes down to the how. Not the what. But this difference becomes much greater when we start to look at the people representing the parties and the way the parties campaign. As time goes on party leaders seem to be swinging people’s votes now more than ever.

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As people, we have strong opinions of others. We judge others whether we like it, or care to admit it, or not. But when we have a negative opinion of one person, anything relevant to them becomes tarnished. This is what we’ve watched happen to Liberal party leaders.

Tony Abbott’s speaking blunders, the unusual public speaking style, the quirky sense of humour and the bizarre things like the Medicare reform backflips have caused Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, to fall low in favour with a lot of the Australian people – both Liberal and Labor supporters. But this has made us look past the policies and instead place major political judgement on the people leading the parties.

And I have to ask, is this the right thing to do? Or will this end badly for us, the people?

It makes sense – the party leader is the utmost representation of that party and if all they can do is blither from time to time or appear too forceful, then backflip on policies and make captain’s picks without the party support, it isn’t a good look. I personally don’t want a leader like that running this country. But then I remember the policies and the reason why he was there in the first place.

So does it come back to the fact that there are no honest, well-serving politicians around anymore? Are the people in politics right now not capable of leading a party with integrity and inspiring and gaining the trust of the people? In that case, why do we continue to care about the people and why not look past that and vote for the policies?

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In the Queensland election I’ve heard so many people say, “I don’t like Campbell Newman so I’m going to vote Labor”. That is great – but is that because you don’t like the Liberal party leader or you don’t like the Liberal party policies? If it’s a combination of both and you like the Labor parties policies and leader better then that’s great. But I get the feeling people are voting for or against the person – not the party.

 

Today I’m curious. What do you feel is the right thing to do? Is it a combination of both? Or what is the important thing – the people or the party? As Queensland Election Day falls tomorrow let’s hope that people at least vote for and against the thing that matters most.