He’s a loathsome, offensive brute, and yet we can’t look away

There’s now less than a week left to go in the campaign, and at least as far as I can tell, all parties of note are out of puff. The grandiloquent vision phase of the campaign [momentary or illusory as it was] is behind us, and what lies ahead is merely mad scrambling and pork scratchings. We are living in the curious purgatory that exists between the meaningful cut and thrust of the campaign and the Australian people’s collective decision. Despite my fleeting engagement with the whole shebang, and my geographical detachment (I am typing this from my hotel room in Gloucester), this feels like it has been a really long campaign. It has felt like a campaign about nothing, echoing the bilious taunts of Mark Latham leading into the November 2007 election; funnily enough an election that really did mean something to a lot of people. It’s certainly important to keep Tony Abbott and his intellectually malnourished team out of The Lodge, but it’s a bit of a shame that Labor’s driving urge in this campaign has been reduced to this.

But back to Mark Latham. The latest gem to emerge from Iron Mark, television journaliste extraordinaire, is that voters should leave their ballot papers blank “as a protest” when they vote in this Saturday’s election. This is a shameful contribution to the public debate that lays bare the depths to which 60 Minutes and indeed Channel Nine has sunk during the last year or two. An informal vote is a wasted vote; a vote for ignorance, disengagement and ultimately, recklessness. In order to perform its function as the “least worst” system of government available. a democracy needs to embody the will of the people. In a regulated, ordinated democratic environment like Australia’s, mass delinquency at the ballot box fundamentally undermines this principle.

Everyone – even Mr. Latham – ultimately has a preference. He can spin all the pseudo-anarchist bullshit that he wants to out to all of us, but at the end of the day, he is only lying to himself by arguing that he doesn’t have any preference between the major parties in this country. If he really believes he hates them equally, then he should opt for change and preference the Coalition, and stop being such a fence-sitting coward.