Tuesday, 25 December 2018

"Culture wars" are lazy politics

As far as the moral norms of both major parties in Australian politics goes, they're both middle of the road. Sure, there's the occasional far right winger in the Liberal Party that rallies against the prevailing norm, but politicians tend to know which way the moral winds are blowing and pander to it. Labor isn't a very progressive party in that respect, much to the chagrin of progressive voters, as they need to keep a broad appeal.

So when our Prime Minister says a vote for Labor is a vote for "extreme gender policies", he's lying. And such a comment works for the very reason you won't see Labor supporting anything resembling an "extreme gender policy" - because Labor needs to keep a broad appeal. It's the same reason why Labor opposed gay marriage when there wasn't much public support, then advocated for it when there was.

Which brings me to my point: this sort of rhetoric really brings down democratic discourse. That instead of debating the issues that tend to divide the left and right, we're instead fixating on a virtually non-existent issue that has little relevance to the direction of the country for the next 3 years.

It's lazy politics because of how easy it is up get people riled up over it despite how little relevance it has. The 8 people who take any mention of gender to mean it's denying their right to exist (it doesn't - no party has an "execution of intersex and transgender people" platform), and the True Believers who think that gender was defined the moment God fashioned a penis from dirt and a vagina from a rib, are going to make noise that exacerbates a non-issue into the public consciousness.

There's plenty of issues separating the major parties; issues that are relevant to the functioning of government and ought to decide the election. There are meaningful differences in funding public education and healthcare, differences in workplace laws and taxation, differences in environmental policy, etc. And even in issues where the major parties don't differ much (immigration, national security, food security, trade, indigenous issues, etc.) there's plenty of issues that ought to be debated publicly. But "culture wars" issues are playing into conspiracy theories on the fringes of politics and pretending they are relevant or a defining point of difference. It's cheap point scoring over nothing.

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