I'm receiving multiple similar emails from different people about the same set of causes. Sites like getup.com , dogooder.com and advocacysender.com These sites offer to back causes, monetising your desire to change the world for the better. That's quite a reasonable thing to do. But there's a lot more to the picture.
While politicians traditionally took letters from constituents moderately seriously, and also petitions, the rise of internet based petitions has debased the currency. There's something in the investment you make in writing a letter, or signing a petition. But, if it's so easy to sign an internet based petition, and is more the result of someone "marketing" the option to you rather than you taking the initiative, the significance of the gesture is much reduced.
This means politicians take such internet initiatives a lot less seriously. Originally there was getup, but lots more players have entered the scene, offering to "run campaigns" for dollars you put in, or indirectly through donations. But, the better option for trying to change the world is to take an activist stand yourself, and taking an interest in politics between elections, perhaps even joining a political party yourself, or at least a movement that reflects your concers.
As Dr. Joseph Toscano would say, citizens become activists, consumers complain.
As someone who is trying to change the world, I've written paper letters to my local members, and I've joined a political party, the Fusion / Pirate Party, which tries to articulate answers to problems we see as relevant. You can find out more about Fusion here, the Pirate Party Branch here, and also about my own candidacy here.
But let me be honest. We can't be all things to all people. We try to do our best, but there's a great diversity of concerns. In the face of us trying to identify a set of concerns, I find myself faced with a great many people with their own particular concerns. I sure hope some people vote for me. For me, and my fellow Pirate / Fusion candidates. I hope that's because the Pirate Party policy package appeals, and what I add to that likewise also appeals.
But, just like the Party itself, I cannot be all things to all people.
I am just one person running my candidacy. No staff, no helpers at this stage. Sure, it is something I want to do. But, think about it, you've probably found yourself barraged by spam and/or junk mail. How does that feel? That's exactly how I feel. Sure, I'm standing for election and doing my best to appeal to people and change the world for the better. But I also need to covet my own sanity, and not get burnt out along the way. Now, if people make an attempt to understand what the Pirate Party is about, and then write to me asking a particular question based on our policies and where I stand, I am certainly happy to do my best to reply. Not mentioning any names, but I think amongst the sea of emails I've received, I've only had one such email. I now cherish that one email, as challenging as it was.
It seems these sites seem to give you our contact details without providing you with any way of finding out about our parties or our stated positions. Perhaps that's the point. People are passionate about their concern, and don't want to grasp the broader details of the world around you. Look, it's fine to be passionate about a particular issue. But, in order to be effective, you need to get a handle on the world around you too. If the sites did not want to be intrusive and overwhelming, they could send updates of the number of people who have indicated their concerns. That would be another possibility. But that's not what they've chosen to do.
I've had many different emails. But the ones which I found most notable asked about our position on Mr. Assange. Within the Pirate Party, I've been involved in media releases on Assange, I've covered the issue numerous times on my community radio show, and I have also written to Mr. Assange in Belmarsh prison. I've mentioned Mr. Assange in a speech I gave in support of Hong Kong students at Sydney University.
And people are writing to me, urging me - even demanding me to take action about Mr. Assange! Now, what do you think I'd do in Parliament, based on this record?
And our party has considered positions on climate, a Bill of Rights, the environment, considered foreign policy, refugees, the list goes on. And we do our best. In many cases, our policy positions may well speak to your concerns. But we can't do everything, and needless to say, while actually preparing our policies, we were welcoming of input about how to shape them. But to make a nod to a torrent of appeals coming in during an election? Is that what it means to have a party policy?
I've written about bureaucracy. I note just how easy is for things to fall through the cracks. There will always be problems to deal with. Because of my position around bureaucracy, because I don't believe that my election will be a magic wand that solves all problems, as compared to thinking you'll ride in with your ideology behind you and that mere fact will make all the problems disappear. I expect I'll be more circumspect and be able to appreciate the many problems out there. But I can only point to this personal aspiration. It does not mean I'm willing to make all those many commitments requested of me here and now. It does seem to me that lobbying and communication is becoming superficial. And if were to mindlessly give a nod to every request coming to me, I'd find myself drawn into that same whirlpool.
Now, part of the position of the Pirate Party is around advertising and the internet. We worry about how companies are compiling data around our every move. We worry about the plethora of signs springing up everywhere, in contrast to Sao Paulo where they've banned billboards. We worry about junk mail.
And we worry about spam.
And, set me call this out for what it is : spam. Corporations monetising your desire to change the world for the better. And we candidates become the meat in the sandwich.
Look by all means, think about the issues, review what the platforms are of the different parties and candidates. I recall doing that way back when, when I was a voter not involved with any political party. And then decide on your vote. Perhaps if you are in Bennelong, you will indeed, vote for me. If not, I hope you will be able to find a candidate you feel comfortable supporting, and wish you the best regardless.
However, I have decided to cease answering in any detail these numerous emails, and direct the emailers to this article. I will continue to challenge the corporations who profit from others, including their passions. Remember the maxim "angry people click more". And, by all means, be passionate about changing the world. I know that's what brought me to politics. But, at the same time, take care with others who will profit from your passion, and harvest your emotions for their own financial gain. Try to look towards the future, not just the present.
This is the modern age, the world of the internet. There are problems in the world, for sure. And there are people willing to take advantage of that fact.
Vote for yourself, and make it count. Maybe that means you won't be voting for me. No worries! Just don't let any snake charmers draw you in!