Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vote Yes!

When my parents were in Australia, I asked if they could please buy me some autobiographies/memoirs of Australian politicians. In Hobart, my dad found a used bookstore, and he bought me two books. Only one was a memoir; that's all the store had. So I also got a biography.

The memoir was written by Malcolm Turnbull. It's called Fighting for the Republic.

Okay. Here's the truth. When I asked my dad to buy me those books, I had been feeling a bit overambitious....smarter than I actually am. After I got the books, I was afraid they'd go way over my head, and I'd be bored.

But I actually enjoyed reading the book. I'm sure SOME of it went over my head though.

Turnbull is a Republican...but not the American George W. Bush kind. Turnbull's Republicanism is about making an Australian the head of the state instead of the queen. That makes a lot of sense to me, personally.

The book was about his struggle to get people to vote YES to the republic instead of no. Unfortunately, Turnbull's team lost. I had a few tears at the end. What can I say? I guess I got a bit emotionally involved with the whole thing.

Turnbull's not perfect. He seems a bit overly disgruntled at times. Yeah. Who am I to talk? Despite his minor imperfections though, I like him. It's too bad he's no longer Leader of the Opposition. Speaking of that....Abbott is mentioned in the book. He's a Monarchist, and so is John Howard. Turnbull didn't always have nice things to say about them. It seems he's not a big fan of Howard.

As for what they were trying to do. That confused me a bit, but I think by the end, I got it. They wanted to replace the Governor-General with a President. But they didn't want it to be like the American president. They didn't want all the outrageous election crap. Instead they wanted the Parliament to vote for the President. But it would be a nonpolitical person....someone who is neither Labor or Liberal.

There's more to it, but I'd probably spread false information, if I tried to explain it all.

One of the running things of the book is the accusations of elitism. That's something we hear in America regarding Obama. And it's a criticism that Turnbull and his team often faced.

I love this paragraph that Turnbull wrote. He says:

We must not let this desperate desire not to be "elitist" lead us into imagining that the voters always get it right. They don't. Sometimes nations vote for the wrong people or the wrong propositions. Twelve and a half million Australians are just as fallible collectively as they are individually. There is nothing disrespectful in questioning the judgment of 55 per cent of the Australian population. There is nothing elitist in pointing out that most Australians know virtually nothing about their Constitution. The real elitists are those who want to keep people in the dark and exploit their ignorance to preserve the status quo.
I think maybe I used to buy into the whole idea that we're all equal. My opinion is no more valid than someone else's opinion. And I still think that's true....in a way. Well, I believe we all have a right to our own opinions. But I do think some opinions are more educated than other people's opinions. And I do believe educated opinions hold more weight. For example, I think when it comes to American politics, Tim is in this elite group that I'm excluded from. He knows MUCH more than I do. My vote is equal to his vote....technically. But I think his vote is more valid.

I think we're all elitists in some way. Sometimes it makes us a bit snobby, and that's annoying. But it's also annoying to be snobbish against elitists. We shouldn't act distasteful towards someone just because they know more than we do. Instead, we can ask questions and learn from them...if we're interested. Of course, if someone has an attitude of extreme superiority, that's a different story. Then we might as well ignore them, call them names behind their back, and go learn from someone else. To me, the worst elitists are those who automatically assume other people are more ignorant than they are. I mean not in a general sense. I think it's okay for me to assume that in general I know more about Australia than most Americans. But it would be wrong for me to meet a specific American, talk to them about Australia as if they're totally ignorant, and never stop to think.....they might be some kind of expert on Australia. Maybe they know much more than me.