How do old people vote?

How do old people vote?

How do old people vote?

I know the easy answer is “how they’ve voted all their lives”. But that is tommyrot. Old people are well aware that they have choices their parents did not have and which they did not have in their earlier lives, and can swing with the best. Perhaps they are even secretive voters. My mother (born 1900) and father voted differently. Dad was a red ragger who had no respect for the upper class after his experiences at Gallipoli, and Mum, from a cosier family background, was a feminist with a small penchant for educated voices. I can remember rows when Dad said, “We cancel out each other’s vote! It’s a waste,” but my mother was smart enough and feminist enough to know that she was entitled to place her democratic vote where she wished, and that was her triumph. Dad was not entitled to her vote as well as his own no matter how tight the marital knot. Who knows for sure how anyone votes? We are not talking about the Facebook generations here, as likely to photograph their ballot papers as their latest meal, if they had a chance. Alone in our voting booth we can say what we choose. I am sure there are couples deluded about how each votes. And long live that freedom. It was hard won. I sometimes wonder if the old express their wishes for themselves or for the future they will not perhaps share. There are so many precedents of older generations making sacrifices for their young, which is one of the reasons I am wary of legalised euthanasia. Does it extend to voting against their own needs? Convinced that they faced a choice of a rise in their pension and jobs for their kids and grandkids, I have a feeling many old people would forgo the pension increase and embrace bread and cheese three nights a week rather than feel they were prejudicing their kids’ chances. But here’s a warning to politicians: don’t take advantage of this. It may not be the way of the future. The breath of the Me generation is on our receding backs. How are older voters wooed or lost then? I cannot see concerted attempts to enchant the third agers of our present day by personalities and presentation. I do not think old people are delighted by Tony Abbott’s winsome ways, suspiciously hearty laugh (reminds me of Popeye’s “arf, arf”) and much less by his sportswear. Some of them are turned off by his swaggering walk (“as though he has the crown jewels between his legs,” one old soul confided to me) and they do not find it impossible that a loving father of daughters might make policies that did not suit all women. On the other hand, I can tell you for certain from discussion among my peer group that many old people detest the way Julia Gillard dealt with the ALP Senator for the NT, Trish Crossin. Even those with a huge investment in a female prime minister – Emily’s List, for example – became tongue-tied after that particular dismissal was known. The behaviour of our local government officials, to whose election we often pay too little attention until our neighbourhood suddenly changes for the worse because of them, will likely affect our response to the referendum too, short-sighted as it might seem to political sophisticates. Policies will be in our minds too; but we are emotional beings and, so far as I know, people do not shed their feelings of fairness, decency and appropriateness when they go into the voting booth. Old-fashioned values still count with third age voters, so watch what you are at, politicians. It is not backward thinking to long for and respect, decency, decorum, due process, and even proper speech (as my mother did). Quaint, you think? Well, we are old and we are many. Get used to it. Don’t forget that if you think ahead that you might not feel up to it on the day, you can apply for a postal vote. We are past the age of queuing, some of us, but not past the age of having our say. Not by a long way. Reaching 60 has been a shock to The Thick of It writer Ian Martin who describes in The Guardian ‘60 Things about Turning 60’. He says he distrusts people who use the word “vile” a lot (so do I) and abhors violence because it solves nothing. In what must be the same breath he writes that he wants to punch Iain Duncan Smith (British Conservative politician) in the face. Are we allowed to be contradictory in old age? I would say that declaring the contradictions in our beliefs is old-age-honesty. The world becomes the more important it is to focus on the correct use of less and fewer (cheers from me). The Guardian has deemed it necessary to offer (for under 60s) an internet reference to what the correct use is. He also says, “Leave the euthanasia law alone. We all know how it works. A smudge, a nudge, a slipping away.” And the scarier the world becomes the more important it is to focus on the correct use of less and fewer (cheers from me). The Guardian has deemed it necessary to offer (for under 60s) an internet reference to what the correct use is.  

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