As I write there is peak corflute-festooning at the early voting (I prefer to call it premature voting) polling stations that have just opened.
These exciting venues are like pop-up portrait galleries, albeit unusual portrait galleries in that every person portrayed is inanely happy-clappy-looking whereas in fine portrait galleries the portrayed display on their faces all 27 of the distinct human emotions. I will not be voting prematurely. Perhaps I have read too many all-is-explained-in-the-last-chapter novels but I would always wonder about what vote-influencing events might eventuate, in the election campaign's later chapters, between when I prematurely vote (going off half-cocked) and when election day dawns.
What if at the last minute the prime minister I heartily dislike does something suddenly redeeming and vote-deserving, something like, say, committing if re-elected to intervening to end the torture of Julian Assange? If I have already voted against Morrison and his party's crony-candidates because I think he's a swine then it is too late for me to be able on election day to vote in the way in which my now-educated heart desires.
What if, after one has prematurely voted, God divinely intervenes in the election campaign (perhaps enabling the pentecostal prime minister to suddenly break into tongues during a televised debate with Albo), thus changing everything?
Similarly, here in the ACT how can we possibly be sure nothing sensational (sensationally endearing or sensationally shocking) will be revealed, just days before election day, about the true characters of neck-and-neck Senate place rivals Zed Seselja and David Pocock? What if every candidate we think we know so far is only his or her performed Dr Jekyll with his or her debauched and deadly Mr Hyde only emerging in the days after we have voted for someone we naively believed was the Jekyll, the whole Jekyll and nothing but the Jekyll?
If I compare following an election campaign to reading a novel the analogy has special power for me now because, as announced in an unforgettable earlier column, I deliberately chose to reread Herman Melville's magnificent Moby Dick while the election campaign is on. My idea was/is that to immerse oneself in a soul-nourishing and intelligence-respecting novel would help to block out news of the sordid and intelligence-insulting electioneering going on.
Moby Dick is a big book (the 135 chapters taking 654 pages in the Penguin Classics edition) and I thought my rereading could take almost exactly as long as the election campaign lasted, the noble book shielding me from the ignoble pageant of the election.
But I miscalculated. The action of the sublimely action-crammed novel seemed to accelerate as I read it (great fiction plays these sorts of mystical tricks on a reader) so that, caught up in that accelerating hurly burly, I have finished this rereading almost a fortnight too early!
This is the fault of Melville's fabulous readability and especially of his novel's mad protagonist Captain Ahab whose mad pursuit of the whale accelerates from about Chapter 109 so that to stay with him, this deranged unidexter, the engaged reader finds himself breaking into a reading gallop.
Quickly, to bridge the gap, I have taken up a rereading of George Eliot's mighty (and again intelligence-respecting) Middlemarch. But my point is that for the first-time reader of Moby Dick or of any ripper novel the last few pages are vital in the ways that, surely, the last days of electioneering are vital.
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For a voter to make the last days of an election campaign irrelevant to him by voting prematurely is rather like a reader abandoning Moby Dick at Chapter 133 (The Chase - First Day) of the thrilling 135.
But it was nave of me to fancy a book, even a book as big in every way as Moby Dick, could totally eclipse the electioneering going on. Some electioneering wriggles in under the fence, some of it prompting the thought that one revelation every federal election gives is the contempt the major parties really have for all of us, we drongos, the Australian people.
The parties' election slogans are artfully pitched at a people presumed to be as simple-minded and suggestible as laboratory rats. No politician would ever tell an elector to his face he, the elector, is as thick as two planks while that politician's party ads cynically but realistically depend for their success on the mug people's utter two-plankness.
So, for example, my insulted intelligence takes offence at every popping-up of the Coalition's attack ad "It won't be easy under Albanese" (the ad is everywhere on every device and seems to be stalking us) while accepting the ad (in its video form the catchy words come with a rusting money-bucket leaking coins suggesting Albo's fiscal promiscuousness) is bound to be the work of advertising wizards. They, the wizards, probably know best what will beguile the Ozlumpenproletariat.
Just in case the ad is working wonders among enfranchised two-plankers, Labor should surely leap to oppose and to nullify it with catchy ad rejoinders. Some possibilities leap to mind. "Australia'll be less sleazy, Australians won't feel so queasy, when ScoMo's kicked out by Albanese." "Australia will be woebegone until we're rid of Morrison." "Australia's greatness will come to fruition once Albo's exorcised the Coalition."
I can conjure millions of these powerful witticisms and for the nation's sake offer them, my intellectual property, free of charge to Labor and its plucky campaign for an end to the Morrison-Joyce tyranny.
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
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