Gulf War I

I stumbled across the following letter, which I wrote to my MP, Ted Mack, shortly after he outrageously voted against Australia's participation in liberating Kuwait from Saddam. The liberation of Kuwait was supported by something like 90% of Australians. It might have been 95%, I can't remember. Australia had the left-wing in power at that time. The Gulf War I had bipartisan support, and thus the only politician who voted against the action was an independent (the only independent in parliament at the time), and he didn't just represent my electorate, I was an enthusiastic supporter of him. According to the letter, after Ted Mack, I preferred the left-wing (Labor) party at the time. I'm pretty sure that was because they were actually doing economic reforms I approved of, and thus I considered them more right-wing than the right-wing, who were flailing about, and hadn't done anything useful when they were last in power.

Also according to the letter, my view at the time was that according to the principles of democracy, we should do whatever the public wants, regardless of how ill-informed they are. I do remember having that view. If that's what the people want, then that's what they should get. I have since changed my view, and realise that operating according to the best available science produces the best result, rather than just blindly following ill-informed people around. But regardless, Ted Mack's election platform was to follow the public around, not tell the ill-informed public to go stick it. And that exactly matched my view at the time. So I was devastated when I saw my representative emerge from parliament having left-wing ratbags cheering him. Anyway, without further ado, here is my letter:

Dear Mr Mack,
Hello again. This is a follow up to the conversation I had with you at 10.30 pm Thursday 31/1/91. Basically I just want to clarify my position on the subject.

Your election platform, and the only reason I voted for you, was "I will represent the people of North Sydney" or words to that effect. This to me is utopia, for it sounds like true democracy to me, and I am all in favour of that. Rather than having a choice of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (to quote your words), we can have what the people really want.

I am sure that you agree with this, because it is your words. The question now remains (in my opinion anyway), how can you best fulfill your election promise, and represent the people. The best way in terms of accuracy, is a referendum, obviously too expensive in most situations. Second best would be an independent poll, again too expensive. At this point I can see 3 possible paths to follow.

1) Go around, or ring up, a random sample of people, and find their opinion on the issue at hand. Also use any other knowledge you have of the people you have visited in the last 15 years that you have been walking the streets of North Sydney. Base your vote on this. If you think it is too close to call, then abstain. If you think you have 60% of the people in favour of an issue, then go in that direction. Use your discretion if necessary, as we have already put our trust in you to do so. In my opinion, solution 1 is probably the most practical course.

2) Seeing as you cannot afford to do a poll of your electorate alone, you can rely on Australian statistics, and *assume at your discretion* that the people of North Sydney think roughly the same as the people of the rest of Australia. You can use your discretion here, knowing that people of North Sydney are far more pro-Liberal than pro-Labor, so lean more towards Liberal viewpoints (as a totally irrelevant piece of information, I am more pro-Labor than pro-Liberal in *federal*). In my opinion, option 2 is the second best option, which perhaps you could use in conjunction with option 1.

3) Have a look at the mail you receive. Tally the number of pro's and anti's and whichever one has the most votes, assume that this is an accurate representation of the people of North Sydney's opinions, and vote accordingly. In my opinion, this is a *terrible terrible* way to govern. The sort of people who write letters to MP's are a *very very* small minority of the electorate. They are generally the radical element of society, as most people are more laid back than to write letters to MP's. I am one of these "radical ratbags", which is why I am writing this letter.

Let me demonstrate how inaccurate this option 3 is:
Recently a prominent politician told me that he had received 600 anti-war letters, and only 10 pro-war letters. If we make our vote based on this information, we would see that the ratio of anti-war to pro-war is a massive 60:1. That is to say that less than 2% of the people of this man's electorate were in favour of an offensive role for our frigates in the gulf. I would bet my life savings, that at least 4% of this electorate were in favour of the offensive role, ie *double* what this politician thinks.

Oh, by the way Ted, did I ever mention that I *hate* the french because they carry out terrorist activities in friendly countries? I hate them so much that I think we should declare war on them.

As a second example, this same politician has received exactly 1 letter saying that we should declare war on france, and exactly 0 saying we should not declare war on france. Ratio of pro-war to anti-war is 1:0, ie pro-war's are infinitely greater in number than anti-war's. But I have a nasty suspicion that this aforementioned politician is not going to represent this massive anti-france feeling, but instead going to take a much more moderate stance, based on what? Hopefully, very hopefully, on options 1) or 2).

As you can tell from the previous rubbish, I am most definitely a radical ratbag. *No* vote in parliament should ever be taken on the basis that I happened to say something. Instead it should be taken on what the moderate people of this country/electorate think. I believe the question posed recently in parliament was something along the lines of "Do you think the Australian frigates in the gulf should join the United Nations forces in an offensive role". I know that if you vote "no" to this, you will be voting against the wishes of the Australian people. I *think* if you say "no" to this, you will not be representing the majority of people in the North Sydney electorate.

I don't know what you're going to do on the basis of this letter, my guess is you'll chuck it in the bin accompanied with words such as "Who does this little dickhead think he is". You are right, I am nobody. 1/100000 th of your electorate, and my views are basically totally irrelevant (0 is not very far from 1/100000). But nevermind, at least I'm in with a slim chance with you. I know for sure that Liberal and Labor don't even bother to pretend to represent the people.



P.S. I will read with interest your article when it comes, and even though it will undoubtedly be more informed than mine, I consider it to carry the same weight as mine, ie 1/100000. I *personally* consider myself to be more intelligent than most, but I do not think I should have any more voting power than anyone else, because as Kerr Avon said, "Everyone thinks that the way they think is the correct way to think".

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