Engage in spite of it all

I had a completed piece ready to go. It was good too; in fact I'll probably still run it in the next few weeks. But I want to be honest here. I think people have come to expect that of me, actually. So I'm going to be honest with all of you.

Politics has been an obsession of mine for maybe seven years. One summer I read a few books on political issues and my life was never the same. i was so captured by it all I went on to study politics at university for four years. I was one of the few students in my year that was primarily interested in Australian domestic politics, the cut and thrust that affects the lives of Australians every day.

I identify myself as a progressive person in almost all aspects of my life. My father was a long-time union member and my mother's family are not altogether different. Much has been written about why people vote the way they do, but there can be no doubt that the preferences of your immediate family does have a big impact on these things. I am certainly no exception.

Since the genesis of my obsession I have never been less inspired by the state of domestic politics. At different times I felt engaged enough to yell at my television and be critical of different policies and approaches in discussions with friends and colleagues. Right now I feel like I'm watching a football match where my team isn't playing. Events are unfolding before me, and some of them are interesting in the way that any sort of drama and high-stakes struggle interests me, but it certainly doesn't feel like I've got significant skin in the game.

I'm not entirely disengaged from the political process because otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. But what is saddest to me is that I'm not particularly engaged on the important policy issues. I am interested in the hand-to-hand combat but I figure that I'm probably not alone in that most of the other far more important issues have faded to the background for me. I've prioritised my writing, my music, my work and my friends and family. I just don't feel like it's worth the energy I committed to these things whilst I was at university.

I've never been an activist; I have always considered myself more of an analyst. For instance, I wrote eighteen thousand words about the Rudd Government's policy response to the Global Financial Crisis for my honours thesis. That was a time that demanded my utmost attention because it felt truly monumental and impactful on this country and the world. I haven't felt that way about an issue for a long time. I hope that one day I can regain this passion because it's fundamentally part of who I am and I don't like feeling this way. The political system is not fundamentally broken, but right now I'm sure a lot of people feel like it might be.

We are going to the polls to vote on this stuff in a few months, guys. I urge everyone to think long and hard about all of this stuff and make your vote count. Many people have struggled, fought and died for this right. Think long and hard about the way your vote will affect you, the people you care about and the country as a whole. Consume as much information as you can from as many sources as you have available to you. Learn the name of your local MP and their likely opponent. Go to the polling booth on election day not with a sense of obligation but a sense of privilege. Buy a sausage in bread, talk to the people who share your local area and smile. Think not about the appearance of any person who stands for office or any of the other distracting trivialities that others may try to draw attention to. Find out what people are positive about and truly stand for. Be able to clearly and logically articulate why you are going to vote the way you are if someone asks you. Do not be distracted by negative tactics by any candidate or party.

I haven't given up and neither should you. Try to be positive and engaged through out this whole mess and know that soon things will sort themselves out one way or the other. Things have been more confusing than this in the past and we have recovered. It's OK to be uninspired, frustrated or disappointed whatever your allegiances, but it's not acceptable to give up.