May 12, 2016

Why I’ll never vote for the Greens

Don't believe what The Daily Telegraph tells you: there's no red in the Greens and they aren't the party of revolution many take them for.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

Larissa Waters, Richard Di Natale and Scott Ludlam

There is something wrong with the ABC’s democratic novelty, Vote Compass. There must be, because since its inception, this “whom should I vote for?” quiz has whacked me in the Greens quadrant every time. This makes me sore, as I am about as likely to ever vote Green as I am to afford a life in a suburb that is full of people who name their daughters after sexually liberated French modernist writers.

Actually, that’s an input the ABC’s psephologists should really think about including in their test: “Have you seriously considered calling your child Anais?” would be a more accurate means to align a voter with the Greens. As would “Do you have an unread copy of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century sitting on your reclaimed ladder bookshelf?” Without such data, the outputs for the leftist voter will continue to be just (upcycled) garbage.

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106 thoughts on “Why I’ll never vote for the Greens

  1. PaulM

    It sounds like, come election day, you will have to resort to the cop out of putting your blank ballot paper into the ballot box. Have you not heard of the concept of the “least bad option”? You sound like some of the fundamentalist Greens who, if they can’t have it all, don’t want any. Ironic, really, given what you had to say about how the Greens skewered the ETS under Rudd.

    1. Shaun

      Alternatively, if you vote 1 Socialist Equality Party and put the Greens next, they’ll shrug and say thanks for the vote. As will Labor if you put them higher. For a progressive, that’s the only meaningful choice right now (at least in the lower house) – Labor or Green? When it comes to that, I’d be pretty gobsmacked if someone who positions themselves to the left of the Greens chose the ALP, to be honest.

  2. Peter Evans

    Yep. I know a lot of Greens voters, and not one of them ventures the opinion that capitalism is so much of the cause for the problems they so easily identify. The Greens have become a middle-class outlet for vague dissatisfaction, bourgeois to the hilt, and as about as useful as a wooden spoon at a ditch-digging contest.

    1. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

      So Peter, I gather a Liberal voter would have a silver spoon, but what would a Labor ditch digger take? A how-to manual?

        1. Butidont Likespam

          Your ‘What is this? The Guardian?’ comment is looking a little ridiculous, given the poor quality of this comments thread, which you seem to be encouraging.

      1. Peter Evans

        Nah, the Lib takes a hi-vis vest and a Channel 9 film crew and leaves after 1 minute, and the Labor stooge brings a concrete truck and crew and tries to bury the Green in it.

  3. Roger Clifton

    If the the Greens split into two groups, radical reformists and radical reactionaries, they could fight with each other in public. Such noise would air everyone’s concerns, earning them more publicity and more voters than they get today.

  4. bjb

    So it’s beat up the Greens day ? Last election 1,116,918 people gave a first preference vote to the Greens – double the Nats and nearly as much as the total “Liberal National Party” (i.e. the Qld Libs/Nats) vote, and this time round I fully expect more people to vote Greens. The ALP and LNP are tweedle dee and tweedle dum.
    Disclaimer: I’m a long time Greens member. People can make comments like those that precede this, but if you look at Green’s policies over the long term, they are the ONLY party with a clue.

  5. john ferris

    Interesting that you bagged out the greens for not offering solutions (which is a tad off) but that you didn’t offer anything either. In fact you did just what the Tele did – say all these nasty things so that people won’t vote for them. This piece slots right into the current Greens bashing orchestrated by scardy cat Labor and rest of them. The Libs will be loving this ‘lefty’ hate-in and you feel right into it.

    1. Helen Razer

      Ooops. Must have forgotten to link to the solution: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/

      1. john ferris

        But Helen – I’ve read some Marx and I don’t think it’s the solution, it’s an analysis, but it doesn’t offer the solutions – in fact I think the 20th century Marxists theorists also think that Marx alone is not the answer nor offers solutions to the current issues. The Frankfurt school, had a lot to say about that as did Stalin. Revolution is one thing but so is real solutions to issues of wealth (what to do about money and credit – see what happened in Russian when Lenin outlawed money)? desire (how does individual differences sit within a ‘marxist’ society? Who makes decisions across the community (the workers parties certainly stuffed that up) what does the that process look like? What to do about technology? I could go on. But they are all questions that Marx / Marxism struggles to answer in the current context. It’s one thing to have an analytical framework, another to work out the solutions. I think rather than bag the Greens for their cultural positioning, perhaps you could suggest some more real solutions for today – besides shooting the lot of them (i mean shooting the rich, the owners of capital and ideology) or reading more Marx / Capital? Looking forward to your response.

        1. Helen Razer

          John. I was joking. It’s actually illegal to be a classical Marxist these days, I believe.
          My point is (and you guys, I did read the Greens’ very comforting policies, or, more accurately, positioning statements) that the party proposes no change at the foundation.
          The Greens are a party of social constructivists. They believe in the primary power of discourse. The greens are a party of compassion. They believe that if we care enough, then things will change. Their policy is scored over with these beliefs. The need for “representation” and “respect” is centrally articulated. Talk on reorganisation of wealth takes second place.If people recognise their moral obligation to be better, say the Greens, then we’ll have a better world. We can see this clearly in a number of policies, notably in that on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s big on “constitutional recognition” and “treaty”. It’s short on land.
          There are plenty of thinkers who assert the need and describe the terms for a structural shift. I would say that most of them *have* read Capital, though.

          1. Garry & Christine Boase

            Why should the Greens have policy about reorganisation of wealth. I am a member of the party and I believe rightly or wrongly that our philosophy is ordinary (normal) social democracy with a conventional economic approach according to evidence but that capitalism must operate according to the limits of the environment. So yes work hard, make money but not at the cost of the environment and making the world uninhabitable. If the Liberals were real conservatives people who care about standards. they would be the sort of people who would want to leave the world in better shape than how they found it, A real conservative would deplore waste and there is so much waste in our economy. A real conservative would recycle, mine only what is really needed. A real conservative would want integrity compassion and fairness at the top of their priorities. So if you like the Greens are the real conservative party. And your last comment about constitutional recognition and treaty is so wrong but too complex to go into here. I just had to say something because your article was so superficial and so may cheap shots. The Greens are not in government and are just as much a lobby and they are entitled to simply be critical but on the other hand they do have some fantastic practical policy regarding urban development and renewable energy and these policies are down to earth practical and costed.

        2. Draco Houston

          I’m pretty sure Marx answered all this in Critique of the Gotha Program 😛

          1. john ferris

            Just reading it now, thanks for pointing it out.

      2. Butidont Likespam

        For someone who can’t get through Piketty, it’s amusing to see you glibly throw in Marx.

  6. thelorikeet

    My reading of vote compass is that it takes a handful fo “expertly chosen” issues and aligns respondents with stated party policy. Like Helen, I am “green aligned” despite not supporting the Greens. Look at the issues and the party positions for an insight. EG – Libs and ALP “strongly opposed” to a national anti-corruption body, Greens strongly supportive. The fact that I am strongly supportive does not make me a Green – it just makes the LP and ALP positions wrong :-). Ditto inhumane refugee policies.

  7. Bill

    Having been a Greens member since Bob Brown’s days I am left with the jaw dropped. Clearly none of you including Helen Razer has any real idea of what goes on inside the party and what it stands for and all the rest of that.
    I give you one word – balance. Go figure yourselves what that means in the world of dogmatic ideologues.
    Why the hell should we stand up and argue in public like the Shortens and Turnbulls of the world? Its tedious, boring and useless.

    I have lived in two countries since the age of reason – the UK and now Australia. Its the same old same old left beating the crap out of the right and VV in both. I also spent a year in another country where all the same economic features are the same, the same bi-polar drivers etc. The parliament? A mix of all, but the means and the willingness to collaborate, consult and act FOR the citizens. Finland in case you are wondering.

    1. Teddy

      Sounds like you you are arguing for proportional representation Bill, which is way the Senate was designed to work. But there, the Greens just voted against a Finland-style ” mix of all” – in order to benefit themselves.

      1. Butidont Likespam

        That is wrong in every respect. 1. The Senate is nothing like PR. It is a States’ house, and wouldn’t be less representative if Donald Trump hand-picked everyone in it. 2. The fact that each *State’s* set of senators is counted using PR has NOT related to the the much more recent regime of preference-harvesting deals that was just abolished. Read Antony Green on it if you want to be informed.

  8. Norman Hanscombe

    Quite a heated response to something which surely should be dealt with by someone explaining why on Earth most Australian Citizens seem extremely unlikely to receive ANY significant important long term benefits via Greens influenced Governments.

  9. sean

    Ok, for all of you who don’t wont to wade through Helen’s verbose self obsessed ramblings I’ll summarise this piece for you:
    The Greens are not as radical as some unspecified radical left party and are therefore no good. Thomas Pickerty is also bad because he is boring and uses graphs.

    1. LesMallett

      Wish I’d read this before reading Helen’s tripe 🙂

      1. Helen Razer

        Chaps. I don’t mind at all how we choose to spell Piketty. I would however ask that we minimise the insults in favour of actual discussion.
        What is this? The Guardian?

        1. Zeke

          Helen, I believe in all the things you believe should happen, but I’m a Greens supporter. I’d vote for a more radical party and I swing more in favour of Emma Goldman than Piketty but I work and campaign for the Greens because I believe they can effect a change for the better. More radical parties won’t even get a look in.

          I think it’s unfair to stereotype Green voters as you did. I’ve been to a number of Greens functions and I’ve met many and varied people. I myself have a son who is named after a series of English kings and a daughter with a Palindromic English name. No French novelist there.
          I work in a nursing home so you can imagine I’m rolling in cash.

          It’s pragmatism. Either work for the Greens and effect policy change on the Government or shout along with the other radicals and get nowhere. I’m in my late fifties and don’t have the time or energy for both.

          Emma Goldman told us “If voting changed anything then they’d make it illegal”. I tend to agree with her.

        2. sean

          That would be fine Helen if there was some actual substance in your article to debate. Its a fatuous article, well below your usual standard, so expect fatuous responses.

          1. Draco Houston

            If only there were any actual substance in the greens platform.

    2. MAC TEZ

      Excellent summary Sean.

  10. maxcelcat

    Helen, I have to disagree with you.
    I was for a long time, over 20 years, a member of the ALP. I resigned in disgust late last year after Shorten said they too might “turn back the boats”. But that was just the last in a long list of disappointments the party served me.

    I’ve not joined the greens, but I have attended some Green events – campaign launches and the like. The contrast with the ALP is stark. Here was a large group of enthusiastic people, of very varied backgrounds both ethnically, culturally and economically, all coming together to talk about a sensible and viable plans for this nation. I got to chat to Adam Bandt, who impressed me with his determination.

    Compare this with the ALP, where it was unusual to get more than seven people to a branch meeting. Where the membership wasn’t a membership a such, but a series of branch stacks – dozens of names on roles who never appeared except at preselection time. In some ways I also feel like the party left me, and not the other way around. This was not a socially progressive party but one built exclusively on gaining and holding power for the sake of it.

    The Greens have lots of detailed policies, if you’d care to look at them, all of which I’m on board with. And they’re a growing force, they may win as many as five lower house seats and in some circumstances might hold the balance of power.

    They’re also the only party who disagrees with our current appalling and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. They way we treat refugees makes me sick and angry. For that reason alone I’ll be voting Green, those marginalized folks rotting on islands around the pacific deserve much better.

    1. Butidont Likespam

      There’s more content in your post that in Helen Razer’s last three columns combined.

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