opinion

OPINION: Today, I finally don't have to feel 'ashamed' about voting Liberal.

As I wheeled the pram containing my seven-month-old son into Camden Civic Centre on Friday, I knew who I was going to vote for. Like many of the people from my generation I was voting early, but unlike them I was voting Liberal.

I consider myself pretty open minded. My son is biracial and my husband is an Indian immigrant. I grew up in the cultural melting pot known as Campbelltown in NSW and still live there. I have a degree or two, for whatever that’s worth, and I have been known to get pretty heated in my defence of racial, sexuality and gender equality. So for those who buy into the stereotypes, my vote for the Liberal Party was pretty shocking. I know I spent the entire time feeling like I was committing some act of social treason.

To read the other side: OPINION. Everyone cares about the environment. Until they’re alone in the voting booth.

When I turned on ABC News I was shook. I had been looking for ABC Kids, but as I was sucked into the vortex of election results, I realised I was not as alone as I had thought. Many people had made the choice touted as ‘selfish’ by almost religious Labor supporters.

There seems to be an epidemic in Australia. It’s that of the silent and undoubtedly shamed voter. Of course there are the unapologetically right or left wing, screaming their beliefs from the rafters at anyone who will listen. But in the shadows is a group of people who don’t fit into either camp. They are considered too young or too open minded to be typical Liberal voters and too conservative to be the typical Labor voters. They’re the people that aggressive election campaigns don’t reach and aren’t even aimed at.

In this election those voters voted Liberal. And as it turns out there are many more of them than we realised.

Why so many Australian women voted Liberal. Post continues after audio. 

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The same day I voted, I posted on the Mamamia Outlouders Facebook page. I mentioned the idea of ‘Liberal Shaming’, the feeling that because I am educated, because I am married to an immigrant, because I don’t like Donald Trump, I’m expected to vote Labor. What I should have said is that many Liberal voters hide their feelings for fear they will be shouted down and looked at like we have joined a party of bigots we would NEVER join in a million years. As it turns out, I am not alone in that feeling.

I can’t tell you why so many of my peers chose to vote Liberal. But I can tell you why I did.

I have a son. I have a home. I have an investment property and I have a small business. In order to help anyone I need to make sure I can help myself and my family first. I need to make sure my son continues to have a house to live in before I fight for the planet he lives on. In order to do that I had to make the choice that kept those things safe. That was a vote for Liberal. And in three years, it could be a vote for Labor. Or maybe it won’t.

The reality is no matter how angry a party’s policies make us, they are policies, not people. But when we attack other’s views, no matter what our motives, we’re attacking real people with real lives about not so real ideas.

Maybe with a little more understanding, and a whole lot less shouting, we will get the polling right in the coming years. We might even end up with a political party that captures all of our interests, rather than our current situation of having to choose between ideas that really shouldn’t be opposed.

But until then, and in words of the fabulous Holly Wainwright, “People make their choices for different reasons and if your friends don’t like your reasons… change the subject. How’s about that weather?”

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