What not to say in a political discussion

Raw onion eaters anonymous.

BY Isobel Armstrong.

Let me set the scene. It’s 9.37 PM at a North Perth sharehouse, the last dregs of the $6 wine are tasting less like vinegar and more like the sophisticated thing people with strong shower heads and fully in-tact shoelaces drink. Maybe you’re sitting on one of those mildew-flavoured couches in the dirt out the back by the lemon tree, or gathered around the glass table of regret. It’s pres. The Uber is far from called. And its election time.

Most political science majors bear the brunt of our national disinterest in politics- every election season, friends, family and colleagues start talking politics and, quite often, asking who they should vote for. It’s a bit like the gym on New Year’s Day, only there’s no vote compass for the gym, and you certainly won’t achieve democratic satisfaction from a BootyBarreTM class. Because everyone is voting for the first or second time, there’s no way you can escape The Talk- even if you use the democracy sausage as a meaningless comical façade to avoid the harsh reality of separating the lesser of many evils.

So here’s what NOT to say when people start talking politics, in the interest of debunking the most popular urban myths, and also of making sure you don’t sound like a Craig from Mindarie in the PerthNow comments section.


“Isn’t Julia Gillard, like, a backstabber?”

Backstabber was the buzzword of 2010. This is a very outdated point but it’s still relevant, because that myth lives on to plague the Labor Party to this day. It’s like Scar x Mufasa, if Scar had been statistically confirmed as the most productive Prime Minister in Australian history but held back the irrefutable mire of public misogyny. You know.

In reality, nobody gets backstabbed in politics, because democratic politics is, by nature, not a team sport. When you vote in Australia, you’re voting for the party and not for the candidate. When you voted Kevin07, you voted for Labor. Not for Kevin specifically. Your vote is essentially saying, hey, I want you lot to pick someone amongst yourselves to lead the country. Of course, this isn’t to say leadership spills (i.e. changing leaders within one political party) are effective or functional. There are consequences- like further division within the party, policies being revoked or changed, and a truly outrageous supply of memes. But it’s certainly a label that is unfairly slapped over the red head of Julia Gillard, and in turn, the Labor Party. Turnbull pulled the exact same move on The Onion Eater, yet we don’t hear much about that. Hmm, I wonder why…


“I like The Greens but I wouldn’t vote for them because they’ll never get in…”

There’s a name for this, and it is VOTE WASTAGE. If you’re a stage 7 tree hugging leftist subsisting entirely on a diet of sunflowers seeds and the tears of white cis men, your first order of business as an enrolled voter is to keep the Liberal/National parties out of Parliament House. So you vote Labor, naturally. Well, buddy, the light on the hill went out with Gough Whitlam in 1972. Labor are a centre right party, i.e. they’re not left wing at all, i.e. your socialist dream is wasted on them, i.e. you have betrayed Marx and everything he stood for and really you’re no better than those fascists at the Wonderwhite bread factory.

That’s an exaggeration. But really, the idea that you’re wasting your vote is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Greens are a small party because people think this way. Liberal and Labor politicians like to pedal that myth on national television, so you think you have to vote for them instead. Vote wastage even in the strictest sense is false anyway because we use a preferential voting system in Australia- Dennis the Election Koala explains it here. Go forth! Destroy the bourgeois!


“Who should I vote for? My parents told me to vote Liberal…”

There’s nothing to even say to this. It’s just so wrong. Do the vote compass. Answer some questions about whether you want to be taxed more, have your gay friends marry, or be able to street drink that goon bag outside the Bird in peace (goddamn bike cops). You will find your answer in 15 minutes or less, and your parents can’t use you as a democracy-approved HECS debt money bag if you’re educated. They don’t want you to own a home. They don’t want you to eat avocados. They only want you to suffer. And to buy more diamonds, and fabric softener.


“Wait, so who is the Prime Minister at the moment?”

Just a heads up, nothing turns someone off you faster than not knowing who is running the FUCKING COUNTRY. Again, there’s nothing to even say to this. I can’t help you. Nobody can help you. You’re actually doomed forever. It’s a little known fact that the 10th circle of hell is actually just complaining about the price of Champion Ruby and receiving eternal revenue-raising based parking fines but never actually voting against these policies, FOREVER.

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was, like, a party that didn’t tax you for smoking, let you drive faster, smoke weed legally, own a firearm, and virtually just do whatever you want consequence free? There is. Google it.


“Haha oi bro vote for the Sex Party bro!”

The sex party is a legitimate option for many people, and its primary concern is stopping the influence of religion on Australian politics and ending the “nanny state”. I guess if you are going to take the piss out of a civil right, it has a good outcome. If you vote for the Sex Party because it has a funny name, you’re probably very sexually repressed, or you still wear those tight pink Cotton On shorts from 2009 paired with rosary beads. Or both.


“I know Trump is a shit bloke but…”

Ah, the devil’s advocate, bane of every first year uni tutorial. It always starts with the Trump and ends with Hitler. I know there are fascist leaders who have been effective and influential orators. I don’t know why some guy wearing an Anti-Social Club cap with a sticker-wrought MacBook feels the need to bring it up every time. All you’re doing is derailing the conversation and making it about your own need to tell everyone you’re such a ~~libertarian~~ and ~~impartial~~ dude. Auspol inevitably leads into U.S. politics, and then someone says the world has gone too PC. If you can back it up, cool. But that line has been used more than the condom-dispenser at the Brass Monkey.



Saying as much as you possibly can and speaking over other people is probably the worst thing on this list. Not knowing that much about politics is ok. Having done POLS101 or reading everything on Vice and pretending you know everything is not. There’s a certain element of respect involved. Put down the Little Creatures, turn off friendlyjordies, remember your major is ecoms and finance. Listen for a second. Alternatively, come back from Melbourne, sweep away the green microfringe and look around. It is quite possible that by bandwagoning a political issue on behalf of a marginalised group, you’re actually speaking over them, and failing to use your privilege in an effective way. If you want to fuck the system, you have to get in bed with the system.


This list if far from complete. There are many, many, many things you should not say during a political discussion if you’d like to keep your windows un-bricked and your tires un-slashed. Today, we have the starter pack. By 10.21 the political talk would be wrapping up. You’ve covered all the usual ground- Black Lives Matter, dreadlocks, onion eating, covfefe. More likely than not it was just a massive circle jerk anyway, because we befriend people who are like us. If you’ve managed to sit through a whole 44 minutes without saying any of the above, you’ve transcended the common plane of Not Giving a Fuck and reached the dizzying heights of Being Slightly Woke.

Keep it up!

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