Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Marriage.

or, How to Win an Election Without
Slandering Your Opponent, Kissing Babies*, or
Making Promises Only to Break Them as Soon as You Get In.

Here's my 10¢ worth of free advice to the major parties: legalise gay marriage. Simplest thing in the world. I'm not saying it will get you my vote, or even my preferences — it's already the policy of the three parties I actually support, and there are much more important reasons why I'll never preference Tony Abbott — but it will win you a lot more votes than it loses you, and at this point that's all either major party needs to win power.

All the reputable polls suggest a considerable majority of Australians support the broadening of marriage laws to apply to gay couples. I'd wager that even the conservative Liberal party (were they ever little-L liberal?) could win an election on this policy. It's true that more Liberal voters oppose gay marriage than other voters, but it's almost certainly also true that more people vote against the Libs because of the gay marriage issue than vote against any other party for that reason. So while they stand to lose more core voters than Labor, they also stand to win a lot more swinging voters and even more than that in the way of preferences — I'd wager the Greens owe a lot of their primary vote to their support of gay marriage, and at present most Greens preferences go to Labor; even if not many voters swung from the Greens to the Libs on that basis, plenty would preference the Libs where previously they would have preferenced Labor. The whole thing would be even easier for Labor, as the slightly left-of-centre party, to pull off.

Of course this rests on the assumption that only one of the two major parties made the move. If both did, it could be a potential disaster, as the bigots who would swing away on the basis of a party legislating for gay marriage would have nowhere else to go short of Family First, who'd remain in most cases the only party on their lower house ballot paper without their most-hated policy. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with that prospect, and this is the part where I usually start railing against democracy in general and demanding to know why my thoroughly-thought-through opinions are worth no more than those of bigots, morons and ignoramuses.

More on marriage next time.

*Does anyone else find the idea of kissing strangers' children as a campaign tactic kind of, well, creepy? If yes, which is creepier: the fact that it is used as a campaign tactic, or the fact that it works as one?


  1. Of course, this rests on the assumption that they would be willing to put their own convictions aside just for the sake of winning power.

    Sometimes I wonder which is more important to the pollies - using power or having power?

    *And yes. I don't like being kissed by friendly acquaintances, let alone old people with media makeup on. Had I children, I would instruct them never to accept affection that might be broadcast on Channel 7.

  2. Well, one has to have power in order to use it, no?

  3. Yes, but to get it, you have to make all these promises about how you're going to use it.
    Would you rather:
    - have the power to do something you didn't want to do; or
    - not have the power to do what you wanted to do?

  4. But if you can't do what you want to do, or are forced to do something you don't want to do, then you have no power.