7 November 2004

It’s the stupid, stupid

by Matt Rubinstein at 2:11 pm

Michelle Grattan has a good bit in today’s Sun-Herald about what I reckon is the most maddening thing about both recent elections and their aftermath. I don’t think I’ve read a paper since Wednesday without throwing it across the room in mute fury at the baffling smugness of the I-told-you-so brigade:

The line quickly becomes: the winner does not just have majority support but what he has done is judged to be right by virtue of having won that support, and critics have had their case destroyed.

For example, all those who worried about alleged lies in Australian politics are being derided as not just out of touch with what drives the ordinary voter (often true) but as preoccupied with things that don’t matter (not true).

You’d think it was an obvious point, but it’s clearly lost on a lot of commentators, particularly letter-writers (whatever) and our old friend Miranda Devine, who bruises the same pages with another rant about the imagined vitriol of the chardonnay-swilling crowd that doesn’t offer enough non-non-sequiturs to string a quote out of so you’ll have to read the whole thing, or not.

I’ve had about enough of the self-proclaimed “silent majority” banging on and on about how history has now proved—twice—that the concerns of us hey-now-wait-a-minute types were always irrelevant and wrong. That’s just ridiculous. If everyone had voted for Bush, and everyone except me had voted for Howard, I might feel a few pangs. But a numerical majority doesn’t get to decide what’s right, any more than you can vote to change the value of π. That’s not elitist or arrogant, it’s just to say that you still have to listen to the other 49%, even if they do happen to be represented most obviously by people who use fancy words.

At the same time, the solipsism of the left can be just as infuriating. Like, what did The Guardian and its readers really think they would accomplish by brow-beating Clark County, Ohio voters into voting for Kerry? If they were expecting much more of a response than this:

Keep your noses out of our business. As I recall we kicked your asses out of our country back in 1776. We do not require input from losers and idiots on who we vote for in our own country. Fuck off and die asshole!!!!!
Knoxville, Iowa

…then they were as far out of touch as any left-winger was ever accused of. Perhaps even more bewildering (seeing as it involved voters in the same putative country) was the Democrats’ encouragement of celebrity endorsements such as the usual-suspects Vote for Change tour (great music, stupid politics), Ben Affleck’s first vote in a while, and Danny DeVito’s minivan. I mean, doesn’t everyone hate celebrities, deep down—particularly when they tell ordinary folks what to do? Isn’t anyone who’s likely to be influenced by what a rock star says too young to vote anyway?

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