I feel it’s only fitting that I commence my attempt at having a blog with something political in nature. Recently I was asked if I would be willing to contribute comments on the topic of why I joined the political party I did, the Australian Labor Party. Whilst the comments weren’t able to be used, thinking about the question solidified my decision to affiliate myself with a particular political party.
I feel as if there is often the fear of particular connotations which prevent people, particularly young people, from joining parties. The connotation that as soon as you join a party you lose the ability to critically analyse government policies or the connotation that you agree with each and every policy your party’s respective Parliamentary party promotes. Connotations which could not be further from the actual truth.
You don’t join a political party because you agree, or disagree, with particular matters of policy. If I did, then I would never be able to join any party. You join because you believe in the roots of a party, for the core values it stands for and aims to uphold. Hence why I joined the ALP, because I believe in the principles of a fair and just society, of a societal safety net and in government intervention for the greater good amongst other things.
This all said, I will admit that there are matters of government policy which do make it feel difficult to support the party. Issues such as the failure to fully endorse marriage equality and government policy with regards to asylum seekers leave a lot to be desired.
But then I realise, that the people who are making these decisions are people from and supported by the party. If the party contains more and more people who think a certain way, who support certain policies and work to get people who support those policies preselected and elected then the party will, eventually, shift in that direction.
An issue like marriage equality would not have reached the tipping point it’s at now without people banding together and forming Rainbow Labor groups across the country and growing the support of rank and file members to the point that every state branch now endorses marriage equality.
If you’re passionate about the environment, then the more people in Labor Environment Action Networks the stronger the push for stronger environmental policy will be. Similarly so with asylum seeker policy and Labor for Refugees, amongst other groups.
Whilst internal advocacy and external advocacy are not mutually exclusive, policy is made by political parties and political parties are made of people. The more progressive people who are inside the tent then the stronger the mandate for the ALP to adopt progressive policy.
There is a saying, united we stand, divided we fall. The more we unite through the structures of political parties for the issues we care about the more, I feel, impact we can have.