Sunday, September 14, 2008

What the World Needs Now

A few months ago, I took an Australian political test to see where I'd fit if I was Australian. And as I don't fit neatly into one of America's main political parties, I also don't fit into Australia's two main political parties. My test results put me in with the Greens.

Are most people like this?   Or does this just show that people like me are weird?  I don't mean "weird" in a negative connotation.   I just mean I don't fit in with the majority viewpoints.

Peter Singer ran for the Senate for the Green Party in 1995.   I like Singer, so this is further proof to me that if I was Australian, I'd be in the Green Party.  Although really what would be the point?    I liked Kucinich for American President.  What's the point of that?

Maybe it's just nice to know that there are hoards of other people out there who have similar beliefs and values as you do--even if there's not enough people to gain true political power.


I've been looking at The Greens website where they have a nice list of their policies.

Here's some of their goals that I especially like:

1. a treaty that recognises the prior occupation and sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be enshrined in the constitution.

2. culturally appropriate services and resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on local language, cultural aspects and community priorities.

3. items of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage to be returned to their rightful owners and custodians.   (I believe STRONGLY in this.  I don't know why I feel so strongly about it, but I do.)

4. the most humane and effective means available to be used in the control of introduced and pest species, including humane population management methods.  (And I do think that sometimes death is the most humane way to go about it)

5.  an end to cruel and unnecessary animal experimentation.  (Amen to that!)

6. increased community understanding of the impacts of consumer choices on animal welfare and on the environment.  No, most farms are not like the ones you read about in Charlotte's Web.   I wish more people understood this.

7. the support and promotion of arts and culture that reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Australian population.

8. protection, restoration and extension of the habitats of Australia’s native animals including marine and riverine species

9. an immediate increase in the pay rate for childcare workers, and the phasing in of much larger increases to reflect the skill level required in, and importance of, childcare work  (As a mom and  former childcare worker, I strongly agree with this!)

10. improved national standards of childcare based on the best available evidence from early childhood research.

11. increased access to publicly funded childcare for parents on low to middle incomes who are working or undertaking training or education.

12. Australia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below by 2050, ensuring that emissions are reduced across the energy, transport, industrial, waste and land management sectors.

13. a business environment that encourages businesses and governments to fulfill their corporate, social and environmental responsibilities.

14. guaranteed decent incomes, support and services for people with disability and their carers.

15.  reduced consumption of illegal and legal drugs where this leads to a decrease in problems associated with harmful drug use. I like how they include legal drugs here.   

16.  an economy that meets human needs without unnecessarily damaging the natural environment.

17. smaller class sizes.    

18. funding mechanisms that do not attempt to impose narrow ideologically based outcomes on schools by the threat of withholding federal monies.

19. no corporate influence on education policy and curriculum material, no use of sponsors' material in classrooms and no display of corporate logos on school property or school publications.

20. a fairer sharing of paid work through mandated shorter standard working hours and a reversal of current trends towards increased unpaid overtime.  (Yes!  Thank you.I don't want Australia to become all workaholic like America.  Please!)

21. a global economic system that promotes environmental sustainability, human rights and a decent standard of living for all.  (Except for the people I don't like.....I'm joking!!!)

22. Australians who are unable to provide their own housing to be given housing assistance by the government.

23.  planning for climate change refugees with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific region.  (I think this is very important--a reality we all need to face)

24.   a reduction in fishery by-catch and habitat damage from both commercial and recreational fishing and other marine activities, and the conservation of key target species.

25.  affordable and reliable high speed internet connections available for all Australians. (I hope this includes hotels where American tourists are staying!!!!)

26.  a high quality aged care system characterised by high quality support, nursing and personal care, with safe and comfortable surroundings for older people whether in residential, home or hospital care.

27.  appropriate support services, including home modification, for older people who choose to remain in their own homes, the home of family or friends, and within their own neighbourhood.

28. the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.  (I think the only weapons allowed should be those cool marshmallow guns.  Although marshmallows aren't vegetarian.  Maybe marshmallow guns....but use Kosher Marshmallows.  Yeah, that's good)

29.  the legalisation of marriage between two consenting adults regardless of sexuality or gender identity.

30. access, regardless of sexuality and gender identity, to adoption, fostering, artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation procedures.

31. the education system to provide age-appropriate information about the diversity of sexuality.  (I think this is EXTREMELY important)

32. a system of Extended Producer Responsibility that obliges manufacturers, distributors and importers to take responsibility for the life cycle of the products and packaging they create.  (Oh!  Amen to this.   Do you guys have ridiculous amounts of  packaging for products, or is that just an American thing????)

33.  family-friendly workplaces and public spaces.  (although this kind of statement often cracks me up.   I sometimes read that places are "Gay friendly". What does that mean?  If you're gay, they'll wave at you?  Wink?   Offer you a cookie?)

34. a new visa that allows people to become Australian just by being obsessed enough about it.
(All right.  MAYBE I made that one up)


  1. You know, I think that most people who are thinkers also don't fit neatly into a political party. The smart people I know consider themselves to be independent and the more narrow minded let everyone decide things for ya tend to have pinned themselves into a perfect little box, neatly saying they are a democrat or a republican and leaving it at that.

  2. Mandy,

    I agree in some ways.

    But then what if the Green party DID become popular--what if it became one of the main two parties? Would I be then less smart because I'm following the crowd??

    I agree with most of what the Green party says--maybe everything. I didn't read everything, but so far I didn't see anything I disagree with.

    So, if someone agrees with everything that the Republican party or Democrat party believes, I'm not sure I'd say they were less intelligent than me.

    I do think a lot of people pick a party because they're not really thinking and just going on whose gossip they can tolerate better. Let's see...anti-American speech from a preacher or pregnant teenage daughter. What's worse?

    But I'm sure there are Democrats and Republicans who DO think about the issues, and are well educated/intelligent.

    If the Green Party was one of the main 2 political parties, I'm sure there'd be a lot of people who'd vote because the candidate was sexy or of a certain gender. But some would be voting because they truly believed in the party's principles.

    Sorry for rambling!!!!

  3. I'm sorry that I didn't clarify that I believed this was just typically what I find. I don't mean to say that everyone who categorizes him or herself as being a party member is unintelligent. My thoughts are just that, as a rule of thumb, the people I find who are rigid in their sticking to one party or the other don't really seem to know the issues. They just pick a party and stick to it because their dad told them to or their religion dictates it. There are PLENTY of exceptions out there though, I'm sure! I find that I am an independent and that I know the issues much more today, as an independent, than I did at 15 and I was the secretary of the young democrat's club at my school.

  4. Mandy,

    I see what you mean!!

    I still call myself a democrat. I'm not part of the party or anything. I mean in any official way. But I will vote democrat. I don't really see a point in voting independent. Or maybe there is one and I don't understand it.

    I'd rather just say I vote democrat even though I might not agree with EVERYTHING.

    From reading your blog, I can see how you'd be more torn between Republican and Democrat than I am. It's hard for me to see how one of those would at all fit you.

    For me, Republican is SO far off from what I believe. It's an easy choice for me. Democratic isn't my ideal, but it fits me okay.

    I think I fit better into a box than you do--even though the box isn't my first choice of box. I just know I totally don't like the other box.

  5. I just learned this week that in other states, if you are registered as the member of a certain party, you may only vote for that party in the primaries. To me, that would be a good reason to register independent (in those states). Yes, I have a very hard time fitting into either "box". My husband is more conservative than I am and I've become more conservative over the years. But I still wish I had a better party option!

  6. It's hard to compare Australian politics to US politics because the two systems of government work very differently. You could say that the Greens aren't AS popular as the Labor/Liberals duopoly, and yet, unlike most US 3rd parties, they have a lot of elected representation, especially in the federal Senate and the state of Tasmania. Their vote can make a huge difference.

    The interesting thing about Australia is that your average voter doesn't belong to a political party - in fact, I don't know if it's even possible to join one formally (the way you become a "registered" Dem or Rep) unless you are actually running for political office. Otherwise, you cast your preferences for whichever party you like - and that's another thing. You don't just vote for one person/party. Instead, you number all candidates based on preference. That's why, during elections, you'll see phrases like "Vote 1 The Greens"... this means, make them your first choice. For a much longer-winded explanation of how preferential voting in Australia works, see the following links:
    Preferential voting
    Australian electoral system

    Another thought: because there is compulsory voting in Australia (everyone must vote or be fined), candidates do not have to spend a lot of time on the subjects that only the extreme right/left care about. You don't see a lot of talk about what I call "perpetual issues" like abortion and gay marriage. In fact, one of the Greens' most prominent parliamentarians is gay! Did you know that? Most people don't, because it isn't an issue, because it truly doesn't matter. :)

    Me, I'm an independent all the way. Though I wish Ralph Nader was running, I'd vote for him again. He did a great talk at my college way back when, and I was really impressed. NOT impressed with the major party choices this time around!

  7. Mandy: You need to start your own political party. I can totally picture you doing it. You have the drive and the passion. I don't agree with all your views, but I respect your passion and how you don't fit into a certain stereotype. I probably fit more into a stereotype than you do....Maybe?

    Tors: I have heard of some of the Australia voting stuff-like the numbering the candidates and the compulsory voting. I think it's awesome and so much better than the American system.

    I'm going to read your link though because I never understand politics well. I have to read things about 50 times before I understand.

    Well, with American politics I can read it a million times and still be completely lost.

  8. You can vote for a party (vote above the line) or number all candidates according to your choice (vote below the line) for senate representation.

    It is possible to belong to political parties, but that is something that is seperate from the election process and does not stop you from voting however you feel like voting on the day.

    I always vote independant if there is a suitable candidate and in my local area we have had some great candidates. Most people I know don't care for political parties one way or the other - they just want someone elected who is going to represent their area fairly.

    The greens are actually seen by country people as a bit extreme you know? lol

  9. It's an interesting question. I don't think you're weird - thoughtful and independent, definitely. But not weird.

    In Australia I think it's a bit different. Sure, technically Greens and Independents don't hold much power. But lately the balance of power has been held by Greens and Independents, particularly in the Senate so they have more power to effect real change than you'd think. I quite like a system that has the ability to balance out like that at least sometimes.

  10. Hi, Dina

    #34 - yes! We want more people who want to be Aussie, AND who will think about political issues, and engage in the political process.

    I read somewhere there are 5 sort of voters:
    1) Donkeys: they just number down the ballot paper. They tend to elect donkeys, too.
    2) inherited voters: their mother's/father's family always voted that way, and they create an expectation their children will automatiaclly, unthinkingly, vote that way.
    3) thinking voters: (as it says). They can & do change their votes.
    4) punishers: they don't like what Party X did, so they vote for Party Y, or Z, just to punish them.
    5) personal followers: they "like" candidate X, so they fote for him/her regardless of their policies.

    Me - I's like to think (pun intended) I fit into #3. That probably fits with me being near the political centre - ground not often occupied by viable political parties.


    PS - hope you survived teh storms OK, especilly Ike

  11. Hey, I took that test a while back! It's just as well that it's "for fun" as the author says. I turned out to be a One Nation supporter...sheesh. I just took it again; now I've got a 63% commonality with Family First. Can't win. In fact I usually give my first preference vote to the Greens. The Greens would do better if they behaved as though they mean to win a majority. Any party with a "balance of power" mentality is ultimately doomed. The Australian Democrats did that and positioned themselves between two blocs which were sliding ever-further to the right. That was a large part, I suspect, of their demise. Do you know the ABC website? That has heaps of interesting material, including the writings of Anthony Green, the ABC's Kermit Frog character and resident psephologist. You can also hear live audio through your computer from ABC NewsRadio. Most people access that to dodge parliamentary broadcasting on that frequency, but you may be able to hear our elected finest at work too, if you check the options.

    On a personal note, I think that your blog proves what I've believed for quite a while: A blog doesn't have to have a lot of whizz-bangery and fancy graphics to be engaging. The secret of successful diarism is to write what you care about and believe. I've scoped thousands of blogs in the five months that I've been experimenting with this medium and very few draw you in or crop up in your thoughts with "I wonder what X is saying today.." Yours has with me, so that's put it on a very short list!

  12. I took the test and came back as Australian Democrats (results here), which is the party that I do actually most identify with. Though I am not a member of the Party (you can join political parties as a run of the mill member, tors) I am saddened by their loss of 3rd party status, which has now gone to the Greens.

    Minor parties can wield considerable power in Australian politics. Though they get very few votes for the lower house (House of Reps), a lot of people do vote for them for the Senate, and they consequently will hold the balance of power.

    Also, just to clarify what tors wrote, though it is commonly believed that we have compulsory voting in Australia, that's not quite the case. It is only compulsory to turn up to the polling station and have one's name crossed of the roll. What you do with your ballot after that is your choice. You can mark the ballot according to you voting desire, or just place it in the box unmarked.

  13. You can join a political party without running for office, but it has no impact whatever on your voting. It's pretty much like joining the Masons, only I don't think you get magic underwear. Also, if you join a little one, they'll probably try to rope you into running for something. My mother was a member of the Democrats before they imploded, and they kept sticking her in as a candidate in various unwinnable seats at every level of government.

    The Greens are the only party with any hint of left leanings in Australia these days.

    Oh, and yes, we get hairbrushes packed in as much material as the brush itself.

  14. Bettina: I'm not sure what belonging to a political party means in America. I call myself a Democrat, but I'm not sure if I actually officially belong to the party. I THINK if you belong to the party, you can still vote for the other team. I'm not sure though. I think the Greens would seem extreme to a lot of people. They seem very left. I'm pretty damn left so for me the democrats are not left enough. And the Republicans are oh so very right.

    Catatonic Kid: I think it's a wonderful system. From my limited viewing and experience, it seems Australians are much more politically involved and less apathetic than we are here. Maybe that's why. In America, I think there's this sense of feeling powerless. I plan to vote because it's my duty and I feel like a loser if I don't. But a part of me feels...really. What's the point? Especially when you have stuff like the 2000 election. It all seems so corrupt and pointless.

    The Analyst: I was reading about the donkeys yesterday on the Wiki links that Tors gave me. It said that one year a bunch of people with A's in their name were voted in. And now they don't do it alphabetical because of that. Pretty funny.

    I think #3's are good. Maybe here the moderates are the ones who think the most. For me, I'm so's doubtful a Republican would ever work for me. I do see differences in the Democratic candidates and can look at their policies and pick this person over that person. But I know that the person who I like most will probably not make it far. They're usually too extreme for most people.

    Retarius: THANK YOU so much for your compliments on my blog. I really appreciate that!!! I don't know much about One Nation or Family First. I'm going to have to read about that!

    What is a "balance of power" mentality? I'm confused.

    Thanks for the heads up about the ABC website. I'm pretty sure I've gone on there, but not for the politics bit.

    Stephen: Maybe it just sounds better to say "Compulsory Voting" than "Compulsory Showing up"

    I need to read about the difference between Australian Democrats and the Greens. And I wonder if they're like our American Democrats?

    Ariane: Magic underwear??????? Why has no one told me about this before?

    I am TOTALLY joining these Masons.

    Our packages are crazy. Some of our stuff is wrapped in this hard horrible plastic. You need a scissors or knife to cut through it. Then the plastic ends up being super sharp and is a major cuttng hazard.

    Oh and children's toys. Those are the worst. They're all tied up to the box with these little twist-ties thing. I have no idea what that's all about. I usually end up in the worst mood when Jack gets a new toy. I think it's a conspiracy. I think the toy companies are in cahoots with the companies that make psychiatric drugs.

    Well, I hope the magic underpants do not come in too much packaging.

  15. What the balance of power is that the current majority does not have a big enough majority to get their legislation passed without the support of the independants or smaller parties. So, if they don't include things in their legislation that keep the independants or the greens for example happy then those minorities can vote against the bill and it never gets in.

    Then it has to get past the senate which again can have the same thing happen.

    Those independant or small party representatives can really get a lot of sway in big party politics from a government looking to get its bills passed. They are really, really important to the whole process.

  16. Bettina,

    Thank you so much for explaining. I think you guys have a really great system there!

  17. Yeah, I think that's part of the reason, Dina. It's also a population thing - I mean, it's that much easier to effect change when you're not looking to swing such massive numbers.

    Plus Australia uses what's sometimes called the 'Washminster' system, and the plus of being a kind of hybrid system is that federalism is a part of that. Federalism spreads the power around effectively enough that I reckon people can feel pretty involved in political life at all levels.

  18. Thanks for your thanks! About "compulsory voting": It really should be called "compulsory balloting", because you are obliged to go through the motions of casting a ballot; in fact I think the Electoral Acts require "voting" but they also guarantee secrecy of the ballot so it's really a "don't ask - don't tell" arrangement. There's nothing to stop you folding your paper blank and dropping it through the slot. It's probably better to mark it "void" or "informal" and draw a line across it to prevent any corrupt person mucking with it later and filling it in for you in the counting-room! So why the unenforceable law? Probably because most people will vote if they go to the trouble of balloting. The rules also prohibit defacing or destroying a ballot paper. That prevents idiots making disruptive protests in the polling station; you can imagine the sort of thing.

  19. Catatonic Kid: I never thought about the population thing. It makes sense--also the hybrid system too. I wish America would look to Australia and model themselves after them. I doubt they would though. I think certain people in power see too much benefit in keeping things the way they are.

    Retarius: I was actually thinking about that yesterday--what you said. If people have to go to the polling place and do the whole ballot thing, it makes sense that most of them WILL vote. I also think maybe more people will actually educate themselves since they're going to have to get off their butt and go anyway. They might as well make the most of it.

    You know, I just stopped writing all that to make sure I was registered in my own country. I personally don't think they make it that easy. I mean it's not incredibly difficult. But it does take thinking, planning, googling, etc.

  20. Well, thanks to everyone who corrected me! I admit I don't know much about political parties anyway, and I don't know anyone who actually belongs to one - they don't really advertise for members (though maybe it's just the ones in the NT?) - so mea culpa on that one! LOL

  21. I just took the test and it turns out I am "green" with the democrats a close second. No surprises there, however, I found the batch results interesting.

    Firstly, out of 8000 results, 12% of those people were not Australian. I wonder what percent of that 12% are people like Dina (and me) who have a sick fascination with moving to Australia.

    Secondly, when comparing the results of people who proclaimed themselves a certain party with their chosen answers, it looks like the extreme lefties (greens) and the extreme rights(one nation?) had at least 50 to 60 percent of their answers follow in line with their "self declared" party.
    All of the other "self declared" party people were a lot more spread out in the percents.

    My point is that most people are middle of the line thinkers, even if they declare themselves to be with one party. The moral/ethics questions had the highest percentages (50 to 60 percent) of correlation between the party they picked and the answers the chose. People are always more certain (strongly agree/strongly disagree) on matters of moral.

    And that is why it will be so hard to get America out of a 2 party system. The Democratic and Republican parties are both guilty of running campaigns that have little to do with actual policy and more to do with moral pandering. The 2008 election is not shaping up to be any different than the last one.

    However, our current economic crisis is starting to get the "middle of the line" voter, who generally decide elections at the last minute, to stop thinking "well I like that so and so goes to church with his wife every Sunday, he seems like a good guy" and start thinking " I don't give a crap how many war medals you have, how are you going to help me make my mortgage payments next year?What's going to happen to me if my insurance company goes bust?"

    Tors- I love that you voted for Nader! My best friends parents did campaigning for him years ago. Well I guess it wasn't actual campaigning, but they did go door to door talking with people about what he stood for. He is not all "tree hugging" his education policy and electoral reform issues are things that a lot of people are already talking about. He has been added to the Texas ballot as a "write in" and I might just write him in.

    I don't know if the US economy can take another 4 years of trickle down economics. If the country stays in the grips of the Republicans, I just might move to Australia.

  22. Darcy,

    I think we should go and gather all the Americans who want to be Australian. Maybe if we all go to Australia together and beg them to let us live there, they'll listen!

    I think another problem with people voting is sometimes people think about only their OWN family and their own personal economics. They want what will give them a quick fix of easy money. They don't look at the whole picture.

    Do you think it really helps to vote for an independent? I want to believe it does, but then some people say it's throwing away your vote.

    If I'm leaning away from Republican and towards Democratic and an Independent...If I vote independent, I feel I'm giving my vote to the Republicans.

    I think I'd feel better voting independent if I didn't have such strong feelings against the Republicans. I think if I was more in the middle of the two parties and didn't care so much if either of them won....then I'd be more okay voting independent.

    We really should do the numbered-voting that Australia does. That would be SO much better.

  23. What happens to your vote if you vote independent in the US? In Australia, the preferential voting system means you effectively get two votes. You vote for who you actually want to win, and then you indicate who gets your preference if that person doesn't get in. Or you can let that person allocate it for you.

    I have always said I couldn't understand why anyone would let someone else allocate their preferences, but I did it at the last local mayoral election because I had NO idea who any of the candidates were, and I figured the Green candidate probably had some clue...

  24. There is only one vote. That's it. That is why voting for a third party or independent is like throwing your vote away. Most of the time the independents names are not even on the ballot. You have to select "write in" and physically write the name in. It's BS and I wish we had a preferential system like Australia.

  25. Darcy,

    I totally agree with you. I just think there's no point in voting for an independent. But there SHOULD be a point. It SHOULD make a difference.

    Let's go move to Australia. We'll come pick you up and we'll all go there together. Okay?