I am not going to join the Labor party. I went to a branch meeting last night, and it was very interesting, and the people seemed very good. But for some reason it left me with the most incredibly depressed feeling. Partly, I felt like an imposter. For no concrete reason I can define, I also felt incredibly strongly that I should not be there, that it was wrong for me to be there, that I did not belong. I can’t even articulate it. It was like being back at school. Or worse. Which is odd, because the people there seemed very nice and some went out of their way to be friendly and welcoming. No idea why I felt so intimidated. But I left with the strong conviction that I had to go join the Greens. Which I am also not going to do until I’ve sat in on one of their meetings. I suspect, though, that it might be the same, even though I didn’t feel like an imposter when dealing with them.
I suspect that party politics very strongly do not suit me. It’s that nasty feeling of being pressed into a mold which I don’t fit (hence, no doubt, the family-feeling). The same thing as being at a rally – by being there, you are, with your body, showing agreement for everything that is said – even the bits you don’t agree with. A political party should be less like that, and probably is. But I could still feel the press closing in. It’s not so much that you have to feel exactly the same as everyone else… Hell. I really don’t know how to define it.
And that’s setting aside the gloomy conclusion I reached that it is Really True that to get to a position in politics where you can actually make a difference, you have to play so much politics that you can’t act on your convictions anyway. Unless you have a very, very strong personality and an amazing ability to keep it subdued to your own ends. Or your name is Joyce, and let me take a moment to breathe in the refreshing feeling of a Senator turning around and basically saying, I don’t care about party politics, I’m here to represent my constituents, and I’ll do so whether or not this is in line with party policy. Almost makes you want to vote National…
I recall my friend Paula saying something about politicians having to reflect the will of the constituents, and therefore not being able to be at the vanguard of change. Actually, she may not have said that, but that’s how I interpreted what I remember about the conversation. And I remember feeling utterly depressed by this – who else can change things, after all, and where is the idealism, or the chance to make Australia a better place? This is, of course, silly, because I complain loudly when people in power whose ideals I disagree with try to impose these on the rest of us… Yet, there has to be a way to do better than the lowest common denominator while still being true to your constituents. Perhaps Joyce has the solution, at that. A move away from party politics, towards a more individualistic approach, in which politicians truly attempt to reflect the needs of their constituents, and make only temporary alliances with those whose constituents have like needs. Let’s see our politicians crossing the floor, voting on principle and not on party policy. I probably still won’t like the results. I’m ornery like that. But I suspect it would be a better system.
(although without parties, where would people get money and support to run? My system is not perfect, and it is characteristic of me that it falls down on economics…)