Sunday, June 7, 2015

How I became a single-issue voter

I follow Australian politics reasonably closely, USian politics to a moderate degree, and other world politics to a more desultory level. Major elections rarely completely pass me by, provided they get at least minimal media coverage (I'm sure elections occur in some parts of the world that never see the light of day even in independent media available in Australia, let alone mainstream media).

One thing that's always puzzled me a bit, in all these contexts, is the notion of single-issue voters. In US politics in particular, there's always a lot of talk about single-issue voting, especially (in my perception, anyway) on conservative hot button topics. Right-to-lifers will vote solely and only on a candidate's abortion stance; gun advocates will vote solely on the right to bear arms, and so forth.

This has always seemed peculiar to me. How can people disregard all the myriad of other issues, I've asked myself? How can they not evaluate the whole picture? How can they elevate one single issue above all other considerations, and just ask, what does the party / candidate think about this, never mind everything else?

Over the last six months, I've come to understand. Over the last six months, I've swung around to basically being a single-issue voter myself.

What it comes down to is this.

I cannot vote for a party, or a candidate, who supports offshore "processing" (torture) of asylum seekers. I feel sickened and disgusted even thinking about the bipartisan support this inhumane, small-souled, and internationally illegal practice has from both the ALP and the Coalition. It actually makes my heart and body rebel viscerally at the idea of supporting this, even by implication, with my vote.

It doesn't matter what they say about economics, or domestic social policy, or education, or infrastructure, or taxation or health or the environment or defence or science. I have various views about all those things, of course, and I can see (some) differences between the two on some of these points, although, frankly, not nearly as much as there should be.

As long as there is only one party in Australia that categorically opposes offshore detention and the torture of asylum seekers, I cannot choose to vote any other way. I don't get past that first gate to even evaluate other issues, because this IS my threshhold issue, and it's never going to change.

Thus, it's the Australian Greens for me. I think their policy positions in most areas are admirable, and I might well align with them anyway on the balance, but there is no argument to even be had, because the Greens are the only ones standing up against this atrocity and calling it out for what it is, so they are the only party I CAN vote for.

So that's the story of how I became a single-issue voter, and developed some insight into why others can be so committed to their One True Thing that it shapes their voting each and every time.

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