• Kristin Perissinotto

I'm not "putting aside political differences" this Christmas

I've had multiple conversations with people who have said the same thing: politics is particularly divisive at the moment. It's getting harder and harder to get along with people of different political beliefs. Whether this has something to do with my own radicalisation, and I'm only getting more progressive with age, or if it's the uprising of the far-right movement, or it's the post-Trump, inter-pandemic climate we're living in, I'm not sure.

Every holiday season, there's two schools of thought around getting on with family: the first is to put your differences aside and keep the peace for grandma, and the other is to wage an all out war between the radical leftist grandchild and the uncle who lives and dies by Sky News. As the leftist grandchild, you're either burdened with gearing up for the fight, stats and facts at the ready, or you're doing some deep yogic breathing and clinging on to whichever crystal gives you peace and strength.

This year, things are a little different. Scott Morrison has proven himself to be a completely useless leader, and anyone whose paid any attention cannot contest that. Even his propaganda machine Sky News threw a few critiques at him this year. The pandemic was a lot harder than it had to be, the budget was completely fucked, and old Scotty has disappeared into think air whenever some shit goes down. Even a Liberal voter has to admit, this ain't it.

The Morrison government has showed us what it stand for over the past two years, with the bushfires, pandemic, handling of Australia's own #MeToo movement, and the Biloela family to name some (not so) highlights. With an election almost upon us, any holiday gatherings involving people with even the slightest political interest, politics will come up. And my true and honest belief is that anyone with anything positive to say about the Morrison government is either ignorant or apathetic.

Ignorant to the plight of people seeking asylum who are dying on our watch. Apathetic to the ongoing incarceration of First Nations People and children. Ignorant to the economic pressures the pandemic has caused to small businesses and many working class families. Apathetic to the fact that women are being abused, assaulted, and harassed in many workplaces and homes. Ignorant to the fact that almost ever time the Prime Minister speaks he doesn't fucking say anything. Apathetic to the dying climate, which will soon result in summers so hot it soon will not be viable to have Christmas lunch outdoors.

So no, I'm not putting aside political differences this holiday season. Or frankly ever again. Even if your loved one has 'always voted Liberal,' it's different this time. The pandemic changed a lot of things, 2021 saw new, and terrifying, stats and facts arise regarding the climate, the state of women in this country, the treatment of Indigenous people. Our Prime Minister embarrassed us on a global stage more than once. Things are fucking different. Anyone who is loyal to a Morrison-led Coalition is enabling a misogynistic, racist, and bigoted leadership of our country. And yes, I would (I will) say that to your face if need be.

Australians are so scared of 'inflammatory' language and people being overly emotional about politics. We're allergic to meaningful debate, because once it passes the point of being a 'fun' debate (spoiler for the conservatives out there: it's never fucking fun for us), you're causing a problem. Throw out the word 'racist' at a family BBQ and watch people recoil. But make a racist joke, and everybody laughs scandalously. We're so comfortable being racist, sexist, homophobic, but we're terrified of being labelled sexist, racist, homophobic.

For some people, it's unsafe to debate, argue, or otherwise push back against problematic or just plain hateful people. But for a lot of us, it's just really uncomfortable, awkward, and you get that eyebrow raise from someone across the table that so clearly tells you to just fucking DROP IT. I for one am not going to drop it anymore. There's nothing like a well-delivered one liner to shut down an argument and make it really fucking uncomfortable. And I'm not owning that discomfort anymore. The discomfort belongs to the family member, friend, or colleague who says something problematic or offensive. It does not belong to the person who labels it for what it is.

#TimesUp isn't just a phrase or a hashtag: it needs to be practiced. Times up on the jokes, one liners, baiting of the radical left 20-somethings at the dinner table. We're not ignoring offensive and ignorant comments anymore. We're fucking calling them out. And we'll be relentless.