The benefits of being boring – the ideology of ‘the lucky country’

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The article below is designed to crush at its centre creative vision – the concept most vital to the spiritual growth of any community.

Vision and the questioning that goes with it threaten authoritarians, the ‘decent’ comfortable and the status quo; it is also a necessity that inspires, that can give a direction that can be believed in and committed to and in that process, unite.

Instead of Australians finding their core values in a stoic response to loss, failure and defeat and to the suffering and waste of lives in the service of dominant powers, they should find them in vision – in eagerly looking forward, not back.

It was because of such an absence of spirit as Glover exemplifies in this article that Jørn Utzon and many others have left this country – a country yet to rise to the lesson of the necessity for vision.

Richard Glover is prominent in the Sydney media.

***

Richard Glover, ‘The benefits of being boring in our two-party race,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 07.06.16

I’m so bored with people saying they are finding this election boring. “Boring election, eh?” has become the “hello-how-are-you” of Australian life. You can’t get in and out of a shop without both parties nodding in furious agreement and letting loose huge disappointed sighs.

Well, can I make one tiny point? It’s better than the alternative.

The Americans are about to have an exciting election, with the polls showing a slight edge for the man recently described as “looking like the guy who would play the President in a porno”.

Trump wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico and ban all Muslims from visiting the United States, with the possible exception of the new mayor of London – whom he likes on the grounds they both equally dislike British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Oh, and he also wants to see criminal charges against women who have an abortion. Or did so until he was asked about it a second time.

Now that’s exciting.

The British, too, are about to have an exciting vote. In less than a fortnight, they may vote to leave the European Union – the urge to leave bolstered by the current anxiety about what is seen as “uncontrolled migration”.

If they leave, the Scots say they’ll demand a fresh referendum on independence because they’d rather stay with Europe, and frankly don’t mind the idea of a few more migrants in their sparsely populated uplands.

Once all that happens, Scotland will surely fill with Polish plumbers and Bulgarian butchers, at which point the English can rebuild Hadrian’s Wall. Donald Trump could lend them the construction diagrams.

Again, you’d have to say: it’s exciting. If the English vote to leave Europe, there will be a material shift in people’s lives, perhaps not as great as the scaremongering on either side, but still sharp and real. Migration might slow down; but so will the economy. Depending on which box you tick, your life will alter.

In contrast, when we wake up on July 3, nothing much will have changed. If Shorten wins, negative gearing will be somewhat restricted; if Turnbull wins, superannuation will be somewhat restricted. That’s about as dramatic as it gets.

In fact, you feel the need for a calculator and a spreadsheet before you can even consider the policies on offer. Talk for more than a minute about the government’s superannuation changes, and you’ll be uttering the phrase “a 15 per cent earnings tax due to an arrangement change on the Transition to Retirement Income Stream (or TRIS) pension scheme”.

Try dropping that at your next barbecue. Actually, do drop it because in the right crowd it will go gangbusters.

And so we all complain: “It’s so boring”. “Why can’t we have some vision?” “Why can’t they both be a bit more exciting?”

Well, if you want excitement in politics, try Austria where they have just come within a few thousand votes of electing a far-right president. Yeah, I know: a short, fascist Austrian, what could possibly go wrong?

Or try Argentina, where the new right-wing government has sacked 154,000 government workers, and yet also reinvigorated the country’s main export industries – industries that had been effectively taxed into oblivion by the previous left-wing government.

In places like Argentina, the government changes, and then everything else changes. Each swing of the pendulum is like a wrecking ball for whoever isn’t in sweet with those in power.

For those who live there, it’s certainly exciting.

I understand the hunger for vision in politics, for radical change. The trouble is that one person’s breath of fresh air is another person’s tsunami of unfair consequences.

So, in American politics, the only two politicians who have generated excitement are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders – both representing policies that would be first, often impossible to implement, and second, an anathema to half the population if their implementation proved remotely possible.

Are these men selling radical change, as their fans argue, or just packaging anger without locating a real way forward?

In Britain, meanwhile, the next election may well offer the choice of Boris Johnson on one side and Jeremy Corbyn on the other – two men who are like caricatures of their respective sides of politics. They are like cartoons made flesh: the blond-haired, Eton-educated daffy toff on one side, willing to say anything to win an argument; on the other, the thin-lipped Hamas-loving socialist, with a willingness to tolerate anti-Semitism.

And so we are back with our boring campaign. Two decent people – Turnbull and Shorten. Both well equipped for the job. Both smart, honest, and yes – even articulate. Both dedicated to winning the middle ground; to finding policies that most of us can live with.

I don’t like everything they stand for; you don’t like everything they stand for. But it’s not a winner-takes-all contest. Australia will still be there, enjoying the things we’ve enjoyed under both sides of politics: 25 years of continuous economic growth, a mostly achieved balance between freedom and fairness, the rule of law, multiculturalism, a fondness for each other.

Boring? Yes. Lucky, aren’t we?

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Images: top/bottom

Recommended: Richard Glover, ‘Bruce Ruxton is right: we should embrace the legends of defeat’

 Robert Poposki, ‘Why Australians Aren’t as friendly as You Think’

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