opinion

OPINION: 'On Saturday, I voted Labor. But I'm not your typical leftie.'

As we all know, Labor’s shock loss at the election on the weekend has puzzled many Australians. Many of us are contemplating the politics of it all. People have doubled down, pointing fingers at individuals as either being right wing bigots or social justice lefties. With this kind of emotional backlash on show, you could be mistaken for thinking we had just voted for a new school captain, and not a federal government.

To parody a recent article doing the rounds, I’m a middle-aged female, Victorian, I live in the outer suburbs, I’m a mother and grandmother, and I split my vote between Greens and Labor. I’ve done different combinations of this over the years. I speak out and advocate for change, fighting for a society that’s inclusive of everyone. However, for some reason wanting a government to look after the people who elected them makes me a “whinging leftie *insert nasty word for vagina*”.

What on earth is a leftie anyway? I had to go and do some research for myself to see if I belonged to the “club”. According to Collins Dictionary, a leftie is “a person who is on the political left… for example; a large group of students and trendy lefties”.

nicole lee
"For some reason wanting a government to look after the people who elected them makes me a 'whinging leftie'."

Well, I’m a student but I can tell you right now, and you can count on my kids to back me up on this one, I’m not cool. I also mess up my recycling from time to time so there goes my environment credentials. I’m not much into lattes because I drink instant coffee. I leave my (grey) hair too long between colouring it, and my mum was right all those years ago, new music is weird. But, most importantly I’m not solely in favour of one political party over another.

Let’s put the politics to one side for a minute and look at this. Who decided there were sides, and since when were there teams? This isn’t a battle of light vs dark, good vs evil. This is not a Star Wars movie. Although, after one of Scott Morrison's media stunts, you could be forgiven for making this mistake. It’s real life, and I’m just living it the best way I can.

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This is where I’d like us to confront the politics of identity, and who is putting these labels on us. I, for one, could claim many different titles. Being either left or right is not one of them. We don’t choose how or what shapes our lives. I like many others was not picking sides, because politics is not a team sport. Activist, or so called “lefties” are not barracking for a team, we are fighting to change the rules of the game.

Listen: Bob Hawke Through The Eyes Of Blanche d’Alpuget. Post continues after podcast.

These are some of the reasons I voted Labor:

1. I need the NDIS, so does 20% of the Australian population.

2. If I don’t vote to take action on offshore detention, then their suffering is on me, and I can’t live with that guilt.

3. How can I go past a homeless person, hear the struggle of people who are unemployed and be okay with refusing to want to raise welfare payments?

4. I could not read about another abuse or murder of a person with a disability and not feel guilt if my vote went to Liberal.

5. I felt that the murder of women fleeing violence would be on my hands if I did not vote Labor.

I did not vote out of some cool, woke, self-righteous agenda on Saturday. I am not a whinging leftie, I just wanted to even up the game.

I didn't vote Labor because I'm chasing a noble cause or because I’m a selfless, social justice warrior, like so many probably think. Nor was it because I’m an anti-violence campaigner or because I whinge about equality on national TV and social media.

It wasn't even because I suffer discrimination due to disability and am from part of the community that’s marginalised.

To every voter out there that feels disheartened or targeted after what has been an impactful election, I’m sorry our society has been divided. I’m sorry we have lost empathy for one another. We as a society need to do everything we can to support each other. For me, that means we need to stop throwing names around and blaming individuals. To quote the words of my 10 year old step daughter “I just want to be happy in my life”.

At the end of the day is this not what we all want?

To read the other side: OPINION: Today, I finally don't have to feel 'ashamed' about voting Liberal.

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