If you’re bad, the Easter Bunny won’t come. If you’re naughty, Santa will leave you a lump of coal. You have to vote for Labor or the Coalition, otherwise it’s a wasted vote. All lies told to make children behave. The last is possibly the most intentionally misleading. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, I’d quit my day job and become a full time citizen journalist.
Much to-do has been made of Cory Bernardi’s bold move away from the Coalition in recent days. Establishment media are claiming that he is crazy to do it. So are the political establishment. Rather tellingly, criticism from the LNP is all about how his actions will damage the party. I have heard little to no establishment media or LNP commentary on the benefits or otherwise for their constituents, for ordinary Australians. That speaks volumes about where the intertwined priorities of the major parties, and a complicit mainstream media both left and right, lie.
My knowledge of mechanics is somewhat limited, but the best analogy I can think of is filling the tank of a two-stroke lawnmower. The bulk of the fuel is overly refined unleaded petrol. If used exclusively it will abuse, mistreat, and eventually degrade the engine of a two-stroke lawnmower. A tiny amount of oil is required as a mechanical check and balance. Sure, it may be too crude, unrefined, and over-the-top to run the engine undiluted, and nobody in his or her right mind expects it to. But without it, you have a very unhealthy engine indeed. A vote for a minor party is to add a little oil to the mix of a two-stroke engine.
I first realised the importance of voting in this manner in the early ’90s when a relative explained why he voted for Bob Katter. I knew that this person had little interest in agriculture or rural affairs. “Oh, I know the guy is crazy,” he told me. “But he’s extreme enough to drag all the others a little closer to the way the country should be heading”. And that’s the crux of it. There are a lot of centrists or conservatives who find Hanson or Lambie a bit much sometimes. There are a lot of centrists or progressives who find Xenophon or Wilkie a bit much sometimes. But that doesn’t stop them from supporting them.
The mainstream media, and major political parties are operating under the assumption that Bernardi will fail because his more religious views aren’t shared by most. They are correct in saying that a big chunk of conservative voters are more secular than Bernardi and probably don’t share some of his views. They are incorrect, however, in believing that this translates into a lack of interest in him or his new political movement. Let’s look at a fairly average voter who traditionally votes LNP, isn’t particularly religious, and perhaps even regards Cory as ‘a bit of a Bible-thumper’. Does this discount them from supporting him politically, or God forbid, voting for him? Absolutely not. Bernardi’s popularity at the ballot box will shock many of the current MSM naysayers who are already displaying signs of faulty clairvoyance.
Others have a better finger on the pulse of the Two-Stroke political effect. “I’m a Cruz guy…” comedian Nick DiPaolo conceded in the early days of the U.S. election on his highly recommended podcast. “Sure, I find the Evangelical thing a bit rich, and he looks like Grandpa Munster. But nobody else is right-wing enough for me”. This was before Trump really gained momentum. The same kind of sentiment saw a novice politician become the leader of the free world. The same sentiment will translate into support for Bernardi, regardless of the media telling you it’s a different situation. It isn’t. Sure, a lot of people may freak out over a deeply religious guy weighing into what people do in their bedrooms. But they’ll still be drawn to him and any candidates he fields if they’re even more freaked out that nobody is scrutinising Roz Ward’s Safe Schools agenda.
You don’t need to agree with everything someone is about, or even like them, to vote for them. If you think that the Coalition are doing a bang-up job, by all means vote for them. If you think that Labor’s values are aligned with yours, then continue to cast your ballot for them. But if you’re a conservative confused as to why Liberals get bogged down on mealy-mouthed virtue-signalling, or a unionised worker wondering why Labor seems to spend more time on refugees or trans issues than workplace relations or healthcare, then perhaps Two-Stroke politics is for you.
I know what some of you are thinking. “The major party I always vote for have lost their way, but if I vote for a minor party then the other side will get in”. This makes no practical sense. If a party reflects your values in brand only, but not in policy, what’s the point of blind brand loyalty? When Aussie brands are sold to foreign interests, you don’t feel obliged to keep buying them just because they used to stand for something. Politics should be the same.
Unless the Coalition drastically changes direction, a conservative will get better governance from a Labor government kept in check by strong conservative minor party representation than a majority Coalition government. Likewise, a progressive will see governance more aligned with their values under a Coalition government that is hamstrung by a gaggle of minor socialist parties than a majority Labor government. Richard Di Natalie made the same point recently. It’s one of the sanest things he’s ever said.
The power of Two-Stroke politics was evidenced in the Orange bi-election late last year. I’d argue that the historic political rejection of both the Coalition and Labor in favour of a minor Conservative party was the final nail in the coffin for Mike Baird as Premier. A reign that was so unquestionably cuckservative that he achieved the near impossible by being loathed by voters across the spectrum.
This brings us to another reason why taking a Two-Stroke political approach in the voting booth is so important. As a Liberal, Cory Bernardi’s voice and values carry very little weight. He’s just a number, an insignificant part of a larger voting block with no real influence in the scheme of things. As an independent or part of a minor party, his seat carries a lot more currency and bargaining power.
The media will frame this as a bad thing. It isn’t. People who don’t just toe the party line tend to have courage in their convictions, and actual values. You may not agree with their values, but at least they have some. Like the U.S. President, they may seem to do some erratic stuff, but that’s still preferable to a self-serving career politician who never really achieves anything meaningful over decades. You may hate the President for his wild executive actions, or you may find it refreshing, but he’s correct in saying he’s done more in the interest of those who voted for him in a week as a Green politician than Clinton or Sanders achieved in decades of career politics.
Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, do not listen to those who tell you your vote is wasted, or it won’t make any difference, or scaremonger you into thinking that it’s necessarily a bad thing should a major party that is ideologically opposed to you get in. Vote on values rather than established brands. Even if your candidate doesn’t win, politicians are all about numbers. They’ll take notice of a swing whether it’s toward a minor left or right party, and even a good showing will make a noticeable impact on policy.
It’s your XYZ.
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