It has taken me 20 years but I feel like I have finally regained my political voice. I feel like I can finally articulate the sense of bewilderment I have felt as I tried to make sense of the political world around me.
I am still disappointed, confused and sad that Cheryl Kernot jumped ship and joined the Australian Labor Party. In hindsight, that was the beginning of the end of the socially progressive - economically responsible voice in Australian politics. I'm not saying that her actions were responsible for the political climate that followed but, for me, it is the moment that seemed to signal the shape of Australian politics for the next two decades.
The 1996 election, coincidentally, saw the rise of Hansonism which was a socially regressive - economically irresponsible voice, it was also the year the Democrats recorded their highest vote. The socially progressive side of politics was still finding its feet in the fight against this rise in unsound argument when Cheryl jumped, and we were still using the tools of protest and numbers against a tide that had greater numbers, and we hadn't had time to formulate any considered responses. Up until then we knew the enemy and we knew how they operated; Hanson came out of right field and smashed us, leaving us screaming in the streets.
It feels to me that in March this year (2014) we finally found our voice again. To the outsider the March in March seemed like a ragtag bunch of lefties wandering down the street unsure of themselves, when in fact it was the left regrouping around the myriad of issues that unite us. We are against many things but we are united around a central theme of decency towards others and ourselves. Most of us may not be in wheelchairs or unemployed or refugees or pensioners while some of us are, but we are united in our knowledge that we are all in this together. We know that it is okay for the talented and skilled to earn more than others, but it is not okay to leave others in poverty and desperate at the same time. We understand that our attitudes toward each other reflects back upon ourselves and leaves our own lives either weaker and diminished, or richer and enhanced as a consequence. Greed is not good but neither is jealousy or self pity. Sharing does not equate to equal distribution, it means giving so others can live meaningfully with us. When we learn about our history and feel the need to say sorry, its not from a sense of guilt, its from a sense of shared sorrow that this could happen to ourselves and others.
I am happy to be reunited with my friends from the left, it has been a long time since we have been able to sit down and have a beer and talk. I will see you all again in August, in greater numbers.