Tuesday, July 20, 2010

“Now I... I know we're not in Kansas!”

The phony war is over and the Land of Oz is now on a journey towards deciding who can live in the Palace (or Lodge as we call it). As we face this journey some have lost their minds, some are scared and most are depressed but we really all ought to be thankful!

Firstly, we should be grateful that political parties can change leaders if they decide to have a vote when they are convinced that the person leading them is not right for their party or for the country. The Liberal Party has changed leaders twice from Mr Nelson to Mr Turnbull, and then from Mr Turnbull to Mr Abbott. Each time there was a vote the will of the majority was respected and the vanquished accepted defeat, packed up his office and wished his new leader all the best. Some see the ousting of a Prime Minister by his party as undemocratic, but the opposite is true. We vote for local members who in turn elect a leader. When Mr Rudd was challenged he called for a vote. When he did not have the numbers, he did not even contest. Afterwards he accepted defeat, moved offices and house, did not call in the army, did not get protesters in the street, did not hang on to power, but accepted the vote of his colleagues. He pledged allegiance to his new Prime Minister. His replacement, Ms Gillard, did not have him arrested after the event but offered him a job in her cabinet after the election. All peaceful, all democratic, with no army, no bloodshed, no arrests, no strife, no secret service.

Secondly, the usurper of power, albeit democratically, has now declared an election, so we can all decide who we want to lead our country for the next three years. Again no protests on the streets, no army, no violence, no guns, no threats, no intimidation! Now each one of us, regardless of our wealth, status, gender, religion or tribe, gets one vote to elect a local member to represent us who will in turn elect a leader to lead the nation. People will complain but in any global perspective we have to be considered so blessed.

Thirdly, over the next month or so we are free to discuss, debate, decry, demonise, and even donate to our prospective candidates. We can denigrate their policies, dismiss their record, doubt their promises and even debate the appropriateness of their swimwear. We can ask questions about faith, we can demand integrity, we can challenge motives and we can disagree. We even fund the whole process through electoral funding, which helps weaken the nexus between power and money. Sure the system still has many rotten elements, where patronage, influence and control are still unequally vested in the hands of media barons, big business and the unions. But the unrestricted internet has levelled the playing field, allowing anyone to blog, network, comment and even tweet (or not).

The Bible tells us that governments are part of God’s plan. In a nation where we get such say, such freedom and such opportunity, we ought to be involved, active, engaged and above all, thankful.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13: 1

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