Tag Archives: politics

Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Kodos

“Take a look at your beloved candidates. They’re nothing but hideous space reptiles.”

Although it’s a Homer Simpson quote, it could just as easily be related to the Australian election.

It’s from the classic Halloween episode where the aliens, Kang and Kudos, kidnap two politicians and take on their appearance. Nobody really notices anything too different or suspects anything, and even when they are revealed, the public are powerless to stop one of them being elected.

Despite this being an excellent satire of the American situation, it can also just as brilliantly relate to our current situation in Australian politics. I’m not saying someone should try to yank our two leader’s heads to see if a giant alien is hiding underneath, but I’m also not saying that this is a ridiculous idea.

There are a number of remarkable similarities between the alien’s actions and those of Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd in the last couple of weeks. They make a series of bizarre, incomprehensible public statements, and a number of hilarious/depressing gaffes (suppository, anyone?), and although the two probably won’t be caught holding hands in public any time soon, you just never know at the moment.

Kodos so eloquently sums up the modern-day election campaign by saying: “All they want to hear are bland pleasantries embellished by an occasional saxophone solo or infant kiss”. Replace saxophone solo with a visit to a factory or school, and infant kiss, with awkward kiss to the back of a poor lady’s head, and you’ve got a precisely accurate summation of the Australian election.

In a campaign speech, one of the aliens gives the inspiring proclamation of “We must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling towards freedom”. This could easily sub in for either leader’s election speeches, with both focusing bemusingly on ‘A New Way’, while constantly emphasising past mistakes and returning to old policies.

The alien claims that the “politics of failure have failed…we need to make them work again”, echoing the sentiments of Rudd’s announcement against negativity a few weeks again, while continuing to provide a negative campaign.

Homer eventually reveals the candidates for what they are, stating that they are “phonies” and “alien replicons from beyond the moon”, and let’s be honest, who hasn’t, at some point in time, wondered whether Rudd or Abbott is in fact an alien imposter from an outside universe?

Kang accurately surmises that the people are unable to do anything about it because “it’s a two-party system; you have to vote for one us”, a depressingly apt way to also sum up the Australian system. After being questioned about a third-party, the aliens implore them to “go ahead, throw away your vote”, a statement even more relevant to our situation following the Coalition’s preferencing which is seemingly an attempt to ‘Rains Of Castamere’ the Greens out of Parliament (if you haven’t seen Game Of Thrones yet don’t Google that one).

There are no real, significant differences between our two major parties, nothing big enough to allow debate to be primarily focused on policy. Because of this, our election campaigns have become a battleground of personality and rhetoric, of media appearances and sham ‘debates’.

The episode concludes with Kang being elected and immediately enslaving the population, and Homer says “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos”, a sentiment that many of us may be employing following the upcoming election.

Advertisements

The Fake Debate

What we witnessed last night was not a debate.

It would have been more apt to name it ‘two politicians giving separate press conferences while standing close to each other’, but that doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

A worthwhile debate requires interaction and arguments between the two leaders, but we didn’t get any of that. What we got was a dull, bleak charade full of rhetoric with no real substance.

On the few occasions when Rudd or Abbot interrupted the other, or attempted to counter their points, they were quickly shot down, and then continued to rehash the same tired rhetoric that’s been prevalent across the first week of what will be a very long campaign.

The Australian people deserve better than this to accurately make up their mind and participate in the democratic system, and if there are any more of these ‘debates’ in a similar vein, it will be a wasted and tiresome display.

Both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott barely veered from their own very set scripts, and often strayed far away from the question, choosing instead to address their opponents perceived failings.

Nothing was achieved in this ‘debate’ that couldn’t have equally been produced from two separate press conferences, or just a simple press release. We didn’t see either leader assert themselves over the other, or venture off script to rebut the others point.

But the fact that the debate failed at its very basic level to provide a thought-provoking discussion between our two prospective prime ministers is not either politicians fault, or the moderator. It’s the basic rules that accompany it that prevented any real debate to take place. With very restricted time limits on each leader, little to no chance for rebuttal, and strict rules against interrupting or directly addressing the opponent, there was never going to be any productive discussion.

It’s almost impossible to imagine that this ‘debate’ would have even slightly swayed any undecided voters, and isn’t that the exact point of these events taking place? We didn’t discover any real strengths or weaknesses from either leader, and the status-quo was religiously upheld by both.

The only moment that could possibly inspire swing voters was Rudd’s announcement of a conscious vote on same-sex marriage within 100 days of his possible re-election, but even this was announced before the ‘debate’, and could have easily just been put out in a press release.

The next ‘debate’ must give our leaders a chance to actually have a real, interactive discussion between each other, to give the voters a real insight to how the handle the pressure of a live, open debate, and how they can actually communicate their policies without the aid of ingrained slogans and obviously prepared answers to predictable questions.

The forthcoming debates must be reconsidered in this light, or they might as well be replaced by simultaneous media releases from each leader, and we deserve much more than that.