The Coalition’s victory tonight was wholly unexpected. Scott Morrison’s unwelcome surprise success will no doubt be dissected ad nauseum by the media commentariat in the coming weeks. I propose we start this torrid business as soon as possible. This piece will attempt to do so by considering the archetypal Liberal voter from an anthropological perspective.
There’s a certain kind of mediocre, thoughtless, brain-dead middle-class Australian voter that consistently holds our nation back. They live in a heavily mortgaged McMansion out in the suburbs in a world of urban sprawl. This voter has a very limited grasp of our constitutional system and is thus easily swayed by undue attempts to turn elections to our House of Representatives into presidential style campaigns. This voter is profoundly selfish, willing to fuck almost anything and everything – the environment, the poor, the voiceless, etc – in return for tax cuts for their bosses. Hoping as hyenas do to be able to feast on the scraps of the main course meal, they are willing to trade their vote to the boss class in the hope that some crumb of the wealth of the mining magnates and economic rentiers that rule our country will eventually trickle down to them. In a way, this voter is really quite pathetic. We can have sympathy for them as we have sympathy for non-playable characters in video games, doomed to forever repeat the same scripted stock lines unto death. It probably is quite hard making it through life without any kind of internal dialogue or capacity for critical self-reflection. But the selfishness and hatred of this voter has very real consequences for the rest of us, and so they are a justified target for our criticism and contempt.
Scott Morrison is the masturbatory fantasy of this mediocre, middling voter. He can’t be accused of intellectual snobbery – with a “Fair Dinkum” campaign based on such uninspiring, nonsensical platitudes as “It is my vision for this country as your Prime Minister to keep the Promise of Australia to all Australians,” he speaks right to the low level of these people. As a former ad man and snake oil salesman that struck it rich working in an industry as fundamentally unproductive as public relations, he symbolizes all that the mediocre middle-class craves – success within a managed world of greed, hedonism and overconsumption that has no relationship to the actual needs of real human beings. The mediocre middle-class voter recognizes the fact that we live in a dystopia – they just think it is rather quite bearable. Taking the kids to soccer games on the weekend in their gas guzzling SUV fuelled by endless wars in the Middle East, going to the shopping centre to support the consumer economy, engaging in missionary sex in the dark for three minutes a week – this is enough for the middle-class mediocre voter. And consequently, Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party are enough.
The middle-class mediocre voter does not want to rock the boat. Shifty Bill Shorten seems unlikable for some vague reason they can’t quite articulate. When they watch Married At First Sight, or some other similarly vapid, coma-inducing reality television show, the focus-grouped attack commercials that are run during ad breaks show unflattering images of Bill Shorten and say things like: “Bill Shorten, the Bill Australia cannot afford.” They nod sagely to themselves and make a note that Bill Shorten is a bill that Australia (read: their bosses) cannot afford. Later, they see an advertisement on Facebook which mentions something about a tax increase. This immediately triggers in them deeply ingrained evolutionary responses. Just as silverback gorillas will fight to the death over the status conferred by control of resources such as coconuts within the group, the mediocre middle-class voter will fight to the death to defend their relative position in society in relation to the poor and vulnerable. Any increase to their absolute position must be resisted in order to preserve what middling social prestige the mediocre suburban voter enjoys in a society dominated by an aristocratic few. If a couple homeless people have to die sleeping rough on the streets this winter in order to preserve the family’s annual trips to Thredbo, so be it. The middle-class mediocre voter has no notion of the common good. Any abuse, however extreme, is justified in the name of lower taxes.
Through this all, we continue our inexorable march toward a feudal, slave-like future. We continue our long, solemn march towards a hellish climate apocalypse. As the clock runs down on our ability to right these wrongs, to halt rising inequality and ruinous global warming, we sleepwalk into a world of chaos, death and destruction. The mediocre middle-class voter doesn’t mind this, so long as the next couple years entail more of the same. That’s what Scott Morrison offered them. They signed up to this destructive Faustian pact. Shame on them. Australia’s future looks bleak.