Nary a day goes by without my seeing some sort of invective hurled during political discourse. On TV, on Radio, on Blogs, on YouTube, on Forums, on Twitter; it is always there. We have become divided. We aren’t all politically minded people; we are conservatives and liberals, righties and lefties. We aren’t Australians; we are Liberals or Laborites. We aren’t Americans; we are Republicans or Democrats. We aren’t English, we are Tory voters or Labor voters. Politics has become a zero-sum game between right and wrong, a battle between good and evil. However, we must ask ourselves, must it be like this? And, what’s more, is it beneficial in the slightest?

Political discourse often borders on the ridiculous. Political adversaries don’t just have flawed ideas; they are naive. They don’t just have disparate ideologies; they are plainly detached from reality. They don’t just have different values; they are devoid of principle. They are not the victims of circumstance; they are completely incompetent. They are not trying to do what they think is right; they just are evil. Do any of these examples sound familiar? Now, some of these accusations may have kernels of truth. I for one would not bother defending a politician from any of these accusations. It’s plain that many politicians are self-serving, have questionable morals and are arguably incompetent. But can we really say the same thing about our fellow the voters? What’s more, is there anything to gain from this vitriol and apparent hatred?

I don’t think I am too far out on a limb when I claim that almost everyone wants to see their society succeed, even if its for no other reason than that we all benefit when our society succeeds. When our economy grows, we all see the benefits. When our education system is improved, we all benefit (even the childless). When our defence force is strengthened, we are all safer. When our infrastructure and transport is seen to, we all waste less time on inane commutes. There will inevitably be the few odd ducklings in any country/locality that want to see it fail, but surely this is a very, very small minority. Most want what’s best for our society; the only real difference between us is how to achieve it.

We must recognise this, and act appropriately. As I have said many times, the basis of democracy is healthy debate; this is true whether it is between the politicians or between the populace. I understand that people have different views and opinions on pretty much everything. I do not begrudge them that in the slightest. However, the way this is expressed needs to be addressed. We need a political discourse in which we stop lampooning and demonising our “opposition”, and express our opinions and thoughts in a productive manner. We need a political climate where we remember that we are all trying to do what’s best for our community, and, in turn ourselves. We need to stop hurling invectives and instead talk calmly and rationally. Politics needs to stop being a team sport, a constant competition between right and left. Or, at least, the populace needs to stop behaving like it is. Leave that to the politicians. The populace, unlike many politicians and political parties, is not involved in politics purely for self-interest. We aren’t in politics to grab or perpetuate power. We just want what’s best. So, sure there are differences in opinion in what is best and how to achieve it. But, why can’t we just sit down and rationally try to decide what it is and achieve it together? Why can’t we all just get along?

Originally posted @ Sakalabujan Magazine