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NSW Election: Coping When Your Team Scores a Spectacular Own Goal

The results are in, and aren’t we all thrilled. After a campaign fraught with racist rhetoric from places both expected and unexpected, Gladys Berejiklian’s Liberal/National Coalition are set to reign over NSW for another four years. The results have shocked the bubble of young Sydney residents distraught at the dismembering of live performance culture and thrown all likelihood of meaningful action on climate change to the wind. Thanks, NSW – turns out it’s not just in the A-League we’re scoring spectacular own goals.

In yet another instance of voting against their own self-interest, the state has appeased the Murdoch media and elevated greasy halfwit Mark Latham of One Nation to high office. Meanwhile, youth initiative Keep Sydney Open’s electoral efforts may actually have helped put their nemeses in power. And they preferenced an anti-immigration party for the privilege of undercutting Labor and the Greens, their closest political counterparts.

But here’s the thing, folks – the game isn’t over just because we ballsed up one measly goal. The state election is certainly an important part of the democratic patchwork that keeps our country running (sorta), but it’s by no means the be-all-and-end-all. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been buoyed by the results in NSW and he’s failing to see the world of difference between this election and the upcoming federal one.

This is where it’s up to young Australians to kick aside their despair and remember that we’re still in the game. If change is something you yearn for in the next election, it’s your responsibility as a democratic citizen to actively fight for the future you want to see. We’re back on the bench and planning our next move – here’s how you can be heard in the next phase of the game.

Back Your Teammates

Look, if you’re a leftie, be honest with yourself – we love splintering. I hate the term ‘virtue signalling’, but we have a tendency to engage in it by pulling apart the language of those who are often on our side. And this is super easy to do when your campaign was as much of a clusterf$%k as those of Labor and KSO in this election. (N.B. I’m not implying that intersectionality is a problem, but we need to emphasise unity while addressing gaps in representation.)

Where one side splinters and battles itself into irrelevance, the other shows at least enough unity to pull through the election and win the day. That unity is something that progressives desperately need, and we must band together on the issues that unite us – climate action, ending social inequality, and excising political corruption. Keeping Sydney open is important, but if live music is all you’ve got to talk about, any of your rural mates aren’t gonna care. And a single mom in Ballina isn’t even gonna give you the time of day.

Keep the conversation going and remember who your friends are. If debate only leads to irrevocable splits, reassess the way you debate and the value of the conversations you’re having. And hey, if live music is under threat, go to everything you possibly can – marches, gigs, festivals, etc. Start emailing every politician you can name about the value of live performance culture in and out of the city. Hell, maybe you could even start an initiative of your own.

Keep a Level Head

Mark Latham is, famously, not a level-headed man. In the presence of such a toxic personality, it’s vital we remain counter to his brand of provocation. It’s even more important we push against anyone willing to give such a divisive voice a platform – the Christchurch murders and Fraser Anning’s subsequent response can’t go unchecked. We have to learn the lessons of the recent past, and reject those who refuse to learn.

How do we do this? Maybe don’t boost the #qanda hashtag when they’re purposefully baiting controversy. Encourage everyone you know to reject the vested interests of papers like the Telegraph, the Australian, Sydney Morning Herald and anyone else telling you how you should vote. Fighting corporate interests requires passion, not hysteria. Anger is warranted, but find an outlet that doesn’t just involve salty memes. At least, not exclusively.

Silver Linings

Hey friend, guess what? Things won’t be completely shit. You live in a first world country with a potentially (probably) bad state government. But if their election promises are kept (lolololololol), then the Liberals may bring some much needed infrastructure to the city. Or at least finish what they started.

Among the positives are:

  • The Metro West, linking Parramatta to the CDB
  • Better roads for southern Sydney residents between Arncliffe and Kogarah
  • No-interest loans for installing solar power (not ideal but it’s something)
  •  Zero emissions by 2050 (sure)

More importantly, even if Berejiklian snatches a thin majority, she’s still going to be running alongside a whole crew of Labor and independent seats. The Coalition stranglehold has weakened, and that’s certainly a plus. Keep up the pressure and keep your local member accountable. Let’s get it done, NSW (ugh).

Take to the Street

The climate march was a major event that was sadly overshadowed by the tragedy in Christchurch, but the fact that so many young Aussies (and beyond) took to the streets is cause for celebration. In a few cycles, those kids will be voting, so keeping them and ourselves on task is crucial to keeping momentum.

If they can do it, so can you. Move your feet! Talk to people, especially people outside of your bubble (as long as you feel safe). Get out there and live in your city, your country town, your state. The keyboard is not your only tool to express your political stance.

Given the rise of prejudice, this is safer for some than for others. So the very best thing you can do as a person with any form of social privilege is extend that privilege to others – help them raise their voice, make them feel safe, and listen to them when they’re troubled. This is how we make our society better.

Ghost in the Machine

Ok, the controversial point – join a party. I’m not talking about KSO, who completely goofed the lay-up. I’m talking Labor, the Greens or an independent party that reflects your values. Members are able to vote on major policies and the mission statements that drive a political party, and next to voting, party membership is a great way to ensure your voice makes up part of the chorus driving the country. Now you have the capacity to counter a party’s shift to the left, right or centre.

This is a much more direct way of shifting a political party’s focus towards your issues, and while it’s far from a guarantee, your input might just be the deciding factor in an important policy move. That’s nothing to scoff at.

Nail the Next Election

Look, the ball’s in the net already. That goal’s done. And we’re all pissed at Daley for booting it past our own goalie, but the past is the past. Complacency and despair have no role in an election. The federal election is the truest opportunity to change the direction our country is headed in, and your vote is once again needed.

Fight prejudice where you can, activate where you can, stay mobile and engaged, and for f$%k’s sake do a vote. It’s the only way anything will change.

Image: Unsplash (@anthonydelanoix), Tatiana Schild

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