So, last Dumbocracy I came out as, ugh…politically engaged. In fact when it comes to, yuck, politically aligned people I’m one of the worst; a founder member of a political party that seeks to one-day hold government1. Tune out now, really, I totally understand.
I’ve talked here previously about how it’s actually in our pollie’s best interest to have us hate engaging with them, and the political system. In fact, some would rather you despised them than want to critically engage what they are doing on your (or their) behalf. They rely on you to tune out.
It’s a clever ploy… it’s hard to engage a system that you see as not in your best interests, and much easier to be cynical and dismissive. But when people tune out, the insidious irony is that politicians do what they want, and we have even more to be cynical and dismissive of.
It’s not surprising then that Australian’s faith in our democracy has fallen to record levels over the last few decades. Last year the Museum of Australian Democracy and the University of Canberra released a major piece of research finding that trust in democracy in Australia has plummeted from 86% in 2007 to 41% in 20182. This is worrying, not just for our democracy but for people who know that it desperately needs to change.
So, what’s my answer? The challenges our society has to rise to in the next decades are unprecedented; climate change that will cause untold damage not only to the environment but our society financially and socially; the increased threat of terrorism and conflict in a nuclear age and a world where the only constant seems to be change. In part one3 I mentioned values, in particular one of my favourites in relation to politics, democracy, in fact society in general; Engagement. Critical and meaningful engagement with the system and people that make decisions on our behalf is essential. Knowing what your values are and choosing leaders that share them is also really handy. I personally align very very strongly with the values of the Australian Progressives; Ethics, Empathy, Equality, Evidence, Engagement, Empowerment…The choice was easy! (pardon the pun).
These values may seem eerily familiar to you. No, they’re not original or unique to the Progressives; they are ultimately human and humanitarian values; fundamental concepts that have been shared by hugely diverse peoples and societies throughout history and civilization. They bring people together for the common good with the knowledge that the whole is much greater than the sum of our parts. I believe that, now more than ever, we have no time to disengage, dismiss or wax cynical about our democracy. We need to come together behind what brings us together; shared values that respect difference and create much bigger whole. The whole is at stake in a big way and values-driven engagement our biggest and most effective response.