The political art of living together - Canberra Chronicle

Doing Democracy Decently

Scientist, historian and philosopher, the Greek thinker Aristotle had a rare ability to cut through complexity.

Politics, he said, is the art of working out how to live together. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

In this final week of the campaign, it’s useful to remember that elections aren’t just about choosing a government. They’re also a chance to have a conversation about where we want to go as a nation.

The job of nation-building in Australia isn’t finished. It didn’t end with Chifley, Menzies or Whitlam. Australia is a work in progress. Each of us has the responsibility to build a better nation, for the brief time we have available to us. 

I won’t use this column as a chance to spruik for the Labor Party. Over the five years that I’ve been writing this column, my deal with The Chronicle editors has been that they give me a few hundred words, so long as I go easy on the partisanship.

But as you go into the ballot box this Saturday, I would urge you to think about the long-term, the big challenges, the country we will leave to generations yet unborn.

And whatever your politics, leave the hate at home. Lately, we’ve seen punch-ups at Donald Trump’s rallies, the brutal murder of British Labour MP Jo Cox, and political violence roiling the Middle East. The world doesn’t need more haters – it needs more conversations.

Australia’s democracy is nothing short of extraordinary. We were the first nation to have women vote and stand for office. We pioneered the secret ballot. And no nation does a polling booth sausage sizzle like Australia.

So have fun on Saturday, and – if you’ll have me back – I’ll hope to be writing another column for you next month.

Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fraser, and the Labor Candidate for Fenner.

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