By Hannah Grey
The South Australian Liberal Party recently took it upon itself to refuse the applications of 150 Christian-identifying applicants to the party – and to demand that another 400 sign statutory declarations swearing their loyalty to the Party. They cited fears that these new applicants had “ulterior motives” and were out to do truly terrible things – like, have a say in their country’s future.
Through my own involvement in party politics, I have seen firsthand the lack of logic in this approach. With the exception of the occasional party hack – the curse of any organisation regardless of their beliefs – most people who belong to political parties are simply individuals who love their country and want to have a greater say in the running of it.
We tell Christians: Democracy rules. Vote for who you want. If your side loses, tough luck. Oh, you say there’s no-one with your values to vote for? That Labor is exactly like Liberal, that the Liberals are indistinguishable from Labor, that minor parties don’t seem to know where they stand? OK. Go and join a political party and make change from the inside if you care so much.
In South Australia, at least, a group of disenfranchised citizens did just that. But that, apparently, is wrong too.
One of the best ways of exerting control is to demonise any group that you feel may pose a threat to your power. Over the last few years, we’ve seen this in the denigration of those who support pre-born life or, heaven forbid, the reality of biological gender.
Thankfully, we’re now seeing pushback in the form of ordinary individuals stepping up and getting involved. Yet, many of these people wouldn’t recognise themselves in newspaper coverage that casts them as soulless stacks with a lust for blood.
Just recently a bewildered young woman at a party meeting said to me as we were discussing the day’s news: “Hold on. Am I a Christian soldier?” (A derogatory term used in Queensland for any person who leans even slightly to the right.)
Where do our cultural phenomena come from? Why do increasingly pedantic (to put it nicely) and dictatorial (to put it accurately) laws get passed into Parliament – all seemingly in the blink of an eye while our backs are turned?
These changes don’t come from nowhere. Today’s headlines come from yesterday’s party meetings, where a group of people in a pub pass motions and preselect candidates. Why shouldn’t more people sit in that pub?
Democracy and influence is for everyone. If you think your own ideas won’t stand up against everyday Australians getting involved, well, perhaps they weren’t very good ideas to begin with.
It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for every other one that has been tried. And until we come up with something better, it’s up to each and every one of us to get involved.