Like many voters, I feel both depressed and powerless in light of the revelations in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics.
At the end of the day—in that oft-spoken phrase of our prime minister—the book leaves me confronted with an unpleasant choice: either some of our politicians (including the prime minister) are borderline crooks; or they are so deeply incompetent that they’re genuinely unaware of the appalling behaviour of their own staff.
The government’s response to Dirty Politics has been predictably dispiriting:
- We didn’t do it.
- Even if we did do it, all the other political parties do it too.
- Even if all the other political parties don’t do it, the public doesn’t care that we did.
Most depressing of all is that “the public doesn’t care” has become the accepted analysis—certainly by the major newspaper chains. Recent opinion polls showing continuing high levels of support have been interpreted as public endorsement of the government’s behaviour (nothing to see here, move along) rather than a vote of no-confidence in the opposition. Political editors of both newspaper chains have gone so far as to declare the election already over (nothing to see here, and don’t even bother voting).
Speaking for myself, I really do care about Dirty Politics. I don’t actually want to live in a country where government employees covertly enact character assassinations upon academics and civil servants; or where ministers misuse their powers to help friends and trash political opponents; or where prime ministers feel obliged to get into bed with poisonous lowlifes—people who conspire to commit blackmail and contrive to have journalists physically attacked—so that they can secretively dish dirt via a gullible media.
But what can ordinary people do about it? You can vote against the government, of course, but that hardly sends an explicit message that Dirty Politics is the reason (and perhaps you think the opposition would be even worse). You could stage a march against dirty politics; although there’s not really much time left to organize one (though I’ll certainly attend if anyone can manage it).
But here’s something small but important that you can do: sign this petition. The organizers (with whom I have no connection at all—I just think they have a good idea) are planning a full-page advertisement in the Herald. They are calling for politicians to clean up politics. They are loudly sending a message that the public really does care about Dirty Politics, and the advertisement will be clearly stating how many people have put their name to this message—the more signatories the louder the message.
You can even chip in here to help with the cost of the advertisement.
That's all you have to do. I’ll end this (non)-party political broadcast on a personal note. My grandfather is currently in hospital, confined to bed on an oxygen supply, and having blood transfusions. But he still cares about Dirty Politics and he’s fully engaged with the aims of this campaign---he has signed up to this petition. If he can still care and take action in his condition then you have absolutely no excuse.