Day 30 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.
You thought religion was a dangerous topic? No, I’ve left the really dangerous one until last. Today, let’s talk politics.
My origin story
I’ve been interested in politics since I was 12 or 13 years old. Perhaps influenced by my conservative parents, and having grown up in an Australia where for the length of my memory Labor had been in government, I felt Labor were taking it all for granted.
I determined that Labor were not for me. The Australian economy was in recession and it felt that our family had been forgotten.
Impact of education
Time moved on and I began to take a different outlook on life. I realised that our family was living on the margins in low-income outer suburbia.
I did well enough at school that I was able to attend university. This was a foundation for self-improvement and growth. It helped me begin to see there was a broader world beyond that in which I had grown up.
I came to see that were it not for the efforts of the Labor Party to make university education affordable for everybody irrespective of their family situation, societal status or upbringing, I would never have been able to afford to go to university, even if I was clever enough. I also saw the people who were involved in the Liberal Party - and I knew they were nothing like me. My suburban story was foreign to them.
The Labor Party, on the other hand, was full of people that I could relate to, who had similar stories to mine.
My involvement in the Labor Party accelerated when I met my future wife, Hannah, who happened to be the daughter of Kim Beazley. He was the Leader of the Labor Party in Australia’s national parliament at the time. It’s not good for romance if you vote against your girlfriend’s father!
Ironically, I didn’t meet Hannah through any political connection or event. We met in a nightclub. Those were the days!
That was in 1999. Since then I’ve been involved in politics in ways and to degrees that my childhood self could never have imagined.
I’ve worked on campaigns, I’ve door-knocked, I’ve called voters. I’ve twice supported my wife as a candidate at State and Federal elections. Unfortunately she was not victorious, despite running excellent campaigns and being generally well-regarded. The big swings that are needed to change a seat in politics simply didn’t eventuate.
It is easy to get caught up in the game of politics. When that happens to me, I think back on my own story. I believe the purpose of politics is to help communities, and enable people to have a fair and equal opportunity to become the best version of themselves. It’s about allowing kids like me living in poor suburbs have a chance to get an education. For me, an education unlocked employment opportunities and life improvements that I would not have ever imagined. It also helped the nation, because being qualified to get higher paying jobs I’ve been able to pay a lot more income tax than I otherwise would have.
Governments and politicians are servants of the people. When this responsibility is forgotten the system breaks down. When Paul Keating was in charge and the recession was in full swing, I looked at the situation around me and felt forgotten. When I look around now I feel that many, many more are forgotten. That needs to be brought to their attention. If it is, then perhaps they will elect to have a government that will be an effective servant who acts in their best interests.