I started to get interested in politics when I discovered that the failure of nerve, vision and integrity in Australian politics was not universal. I always admired the Australian Democrats, but Meg Lees and the GST finished off that fledgling alliance for me. In 2007, when my despair over the state of our political system had reached a new low, I started to read the Greens’ policies on their website and got hooked.
Finally here was a party that put integrity firmly in the forefront of both actions and words. Party leader and founder Bob Brown is universally acknowledged as a man of integrity, even by his most vicious opponents. I used to think that politics and integrity were mutually exclusive, but Bob has proven over and over again that it doesn’t have to be like that.
I am passionately concerned about the environment, but it’s the social justice emphasis of the Greens that resonates with me the most. That most basic ethic of caring for the vulnerable and speaking up for the voiceless is so often absent in politics today. Over and over again we see policies falling to the slickest marketing campaign, and votes up for grabs to the highest bidder. Bob Brown doesn’t conduct opinion polls to decide what to do (“there go my people, I must find out where they are going so I can lead them”), he does what he believes is right. That is the essence, for me, of Green politics, and the reason I joined the party 5 years ago.
A thread of compassion and integrity in politics is Bob Brown’s lasting legacy, and something that I believe the Greens will continue to bring to Australian politics in the years ahead.
I want to live in a Greener world. One that values health, education and justice over companies, profits and power. Bob Brown brought those qualities into politics. It’s up to us to keep them there.
Today is the 18th anniversary of my wedding. My marriage has come of age. It is old enough to vote, and do you know what it votes for? Marriage equality. I can’t understand why the gender of my partner dictates whether or not we can marry. I can’t stand that loving gay couples are repeatedly told by our political and legal systems that their relationships are not worth as much as mine. Not as valid as mine. Not worth recognizing.
We can bring compassion back to politics by speaking out on issues like these. Our politicians care about what will get them elected, so let’s tell them that we care about this.
We get the politicians that we deserve. As long as we accept the lowest political denominator, that’s what we’ll get. The more we speak up, the more we stand up for what’s right and what’s important, the more we’ll make it happen. It’s that easy, being Green.
PS you can vote for your favorite Australian blog here. Feel free to vote for mine! :)