It’s 4pm in the afternoon, the voter walks towards a public hall scouting out the obstacles before them. Two red soldiers to the left of the entrance, a team of blue knights riding taxpayer funded horses on the right, and in between; a rag-tag team of yellow& orange, a shoeless green and teal warriors await the intimidated voter.
The voter however doesn’t back down but proceeds with eyes closed under the King’s orders approach the hall and cast his ballot. The eyes of our hero open, what he perceived as an army is now realised as a group of peasants grovelling for a voice and a seat at the table of lords. The Voter now with a nose pointed towards the sky, for a moment, holds one 17 millionth of the power to shape the land.
A second hero walks in after, skipping the ego trip and casting his ballot after etching an obscene likeness of a male appendage instead of numbering all boxes. He then retreats to the surf of his homelandwhere he pretends politics doesn’t exist.
Back the best horse
Sadly, that’s as far as the average Australian’s political involvement will extend, to fill a ballot and back the horse that their parents, and every bookie recommends. When their horse wins, tribalism kicks in and their ego becomes filled with I-told-you-so vitriol and a sense of pride for picking the fastest horse.
Only this isn’t the horse their parents put money behind, It’s the same horse but with new trainers, now 70 years older and somehow still racing despite ethical concerns.
On election day this year, I volunteered for a minor party, handing out how to vote cards and was intrigued by the thinking processes that a voter faced on the day. An overwhelming amount of people would walk through look at all their options and ask for one Liberal and one Labor how to vote card, ignoring all other colours and candidates.
To me this seems like a counter intuitive decision given that both parties are supposed to be in direct opposition with each other. It was clear that there is a seriouspercentage that doesn’t know how to vote, is ill-informed or doesn’t care.
Who does political ignorance benefit?
Someone posted on their Instagram Story the day before the election something along the lines of; ‘It’s a privilege to not care about politics, but tomorrow choose to be burdened with voting.’
Their message, stained with self-righteous selective attention, had the mark of someone who themselves to be above the requirement to vote, as if they were the one who benefited from not voting. It’s arrogant and wildly wrong, assuming that ignoring the political system will award you with some kind of mental ease.
It’s like telling someone that it’s a privilege to ignore money even though you’re buried in debt and have the power to change it if you were more educated.
The book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki talks about how the tax system takes so much from the average worker and so little from the big corporation or billionaire even though the same tax benefits are available to all bodies. He says that the difference between a rich man and a poor man is financial education not luck or a generous and timely inheritance as many would imagine.
Most people, if given a million dollars, wouldn’t have it for very long and certainly couldn’t multiply it due to a lack of financial intelligence. It’s the same principle that the political system faces; we can’t change our government because we haven’t been taught how to use a basic system to its full extent.
The point of money and democracy respectively is that we have some level of control over it, however, education determines its control over us.
The most dangerous threat to parties
My education of the electoral system began in year seven, middle school and went as far as a trip to Parliament House, understanding the different houses, levels and the roles of Government.
My concern is that I had no knowledge of how to vote and how the preferential system worked until others explained it to me who had been in politics for many years.
My idea of an election was red vs blue, Prime Minister vs opposition which I can safely say was a result of news media reporting, lack of education, and a confusion with American politics which somehow saturates the news feed more than Australian politics.
However, there is a question of whether this educational mishap was accidental or an intentional sleight of hand.
The 2022 election returned that 5.15% were informal votes and only an 88.2% turnout of eligible electors compared to the previous election with 92% turnout indicating a decline in political involvement.
An uneducated voter is a great danger to our democracy, and perhaps there’s a case for non-compulsory voting being implemented in Australia to stop the uneducated masses from unknowingly shaping the future of those who care about it.
The biggest changes made to our country are possibly made seven years before a citizen even enters a polling booth to vote.Providing middle & high school aged students with the knowledge they need to not be pushed around by a government or even their own wallet, giving power back to people and out of the hands of those who exploit uninformed voters.
Jesse Moore draws from the Bible and classical literature for insight into life’s tough questions. He is currently studying at university to become a film-maker.
Jesse Moore’s previous articles can be viewed at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jesse-moore.html