Monday, 12 August 2013

Pirate Party Whirls

Pirate Party accessories

The circus is full on for next month’s federal elections. Me, I divide the charade in two: at the level that grabs most people’s attention there is the conflict between Liberals and Labor, Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd.  With the two seeming happy to fiercely contend to see who will do Australia worse, I am rather indifferent. The polls, it seems, already credit Abbott with victory on both accounts.
I am therefore much more interested in that second level, the level where us sane people stand a chance of putting enough presence into this heavily two party tilted affair so as to block these vile two from doing too much damage. And who knows, maybe we’d be able to do some good. In other words, what interests me the most about these elections are the odds some good people working for the public good actually getting themselves elected to Senate (aka upper house) this time around. As an example, I am talking about the likes of WA Greens’ Scott Ludlam, pretty much the sole fighter for civil liberties in a parliament otherwise dominated by business and USA agendas.
These elections also happen to be the first federal elections where yours truly happens to be a member of a political party, Pirate Party Australia. Obviously, I thought it pretty clear they are going to get my vote.
Then a new contender stepped into the scene, The Wikileaks Party. My first “why not” was quickly followed by a “who cares, really”; but then the party unveiled its candidates and thus shuffled my voting strategy. Announcing its field of Victorian contenders for senate seats, they put Julian Assange first, as expected, but then drew out an ace: Leslie Cannold would be their second place nominee. She would also be the one to take Assange’s place were he to be unable to attend senate (highly likely given his current situation).
Wow, Leslie Cannold! Surely I need to vote for her, given her intellectual clout far surpasses everyone else’s. Not to mention her personally knowing me. That, plus her opinions syncing very well with mine. However, if that is the case, then what good is my Pirate Party membership? Or, which side should I choose?
Oh, the dilemma! Yet it has to be said that as dilemmas go, this one is a rich person’s dilemma; compare it to the poor man’s choice of Libs vs. Lab.
Regardless of the qualities of my dilemma it was a dilemma still, and as such I devoted thoughts to it. Eventually I concluded in favor of the Pirate Party, despite the fact that on a one on one fight the heavyweight Cannold will knock everybody else out on the first round.
The reason is simple: when the Pirate Party preaches for transparency and openness, the party itself acts as an example for its own values. I can write a book about the subject, but the highlights should be obvious: Pirate Party policies are open for all members to modify; indeed, any member can suggest brand new policies with minimal fuss and friction; just go ahead and do it. All policies then go for a vote, which is open to all party members (yes, including the likes of yours truly, whose idea of activism never involved getting his arse off the sofa). More interestingly, at least at this particular point in time, all the party’s official role holders are voted by members – including senate candidates. In other words, the party’s policy as well as the party’s candidates are as close to being mine as they possibly could. But wait, it doesn’t end there: as I type, Pirate Party members are taking part in voting for what the party’s election preferences should be. Thus the Pirate Party is the first to democratize a process that for most other parties comes down to cynical accounting practices that can, under not so rare circumstances, get the likes of Family First elected to senate instead of the likes of people one would actually want in there.
Now compare the above to the way The Wikileaks Party conducts itself. With Wikileaks everything is a secret until publication date, including the candidates. That's understandable for a new party, but when that new party's core principle is transparency I find myself asking for more. Perhaps things would improve; then again, there is good likelihood for things to fall apart if and when certain developments take place with Assange himself. I guess that's another manifestation of my core problem: too much hanging off Assange himself, as opposed to the ideas he stands for.
One aspect I left out thus far is to do with this argument I have been having with myself being an argument that does not need resolving in the first place. The reasons are obvious: neither the Pirate Party nor the Wikileaks Party stand much of a chance of getting elected to one of Victoria's six senate seats; and it's pretty much certain there is no chance both would get elected together. Personally, I will be happy if the Greens manage to get one candidate in between the crop of LibLabs. Given Australia's priority voting system, it doesn't really matter whether I vote for the Pirate Party and then The Wikileaks Party or vice versa. Any combination would yield the same effect.
Still, it's nice to know where my political home is, at least for now. And it's nice to have a challenger to make me ponder on where my home really is. Yet on that same note, seeing Leslie Cannold elected would be my biggest dream come true for these elections. Who cares for political parties, really, when we're all fighting the same fight?

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