The Gen Y Qanda: Young Progressives Look Dumb and Earnest


It’s time. Q and A has had a good run, but after last night’s Gen Y episode, it’s time Fluffy bought the farm. Grab the .22 and tether him up behind the dog yards — don’t be squeamish now, he’s in a lot of pain — and when little Jimmy asks what happened to his adventures in democracy, tell him Fluffy ran away with Tony Jones. You know it’s the right thing to do.

Watching last night’s episode gave me PTSD flashbacks to my first year politics tutorial. Nobody came off well — especially not progressives — and Gen Y now looks more vapid and Facebook-obsessed than ever.

The panel selection for the episode was abysmal across the board, but especially on the left. Between Josh Thomas, Samah Hadid and "music journalist" — pull the other one — Faustina Agolley, Hadid is the only one with any warrant to appear on a show specifically about political discussion. I’ll only admit this grudgingly though, because Hadid makes me use every single expletive I know every time she’s on the show. More on that in a bit.

Where was the ubiquitous Latika Bourke, Walkey Young Journo of the Year in 2010, and a social media reporter to boot? Or Henrietta Cook, Quill Young Journalist of the Year in 2010, the reporter who broke the Ivanhoe Girls Grammar story for The Age and now works for the Canberra Times? Both are articulate young women at the top of their game, but I suspect because they don’t work in a "youth" field, weren’t considered by the program’s producers. Bring out the Video Hits!

The progressive panelists’ politics were a grab-bag of feel goods and proto-people-power platitudes. After whinging that party politics is meaningless, Agolley later admitted it’s "hard to be a political leader. There’s a lot of government bashing". Hadid called party politics "pathetic" and proclaimed that on the issues, both parties fail. Thomas denounced gay-marriage detractors as homophobes.

This is grim stuff for our generation: an amalgam of inner-city trends and identity politics, no acknowledgement of the bitter disagreement and slow progress that constitutes real reform and necessitates party politics. No nuance when it comes to other experiences or views. Instead, why not just set up a bloody Facebook page? Our trendsetters are narcissists and slacktivists without any ideology, with no politics — and please, before you raise the point, Boorstin pre-empted GetUp’s endless pseudo-events 60 years ago.

The swearing-at-the-TV started in earnest when Hadid and the IPA Review’s James Paterson argued over whether, in the context of the carbon tax, polls or rallies were a more legitimate marker of public opinion. By the end of it I was ready to sign up as a "free-marketeer", whatever that is. All for one and one for all — if the marketplace desires it! Paterson pointed out that every major poll, including the left-wing Essential poll, showed people didn’t want a carbon tax. Hadid said that people marching in the streets "should speak for itself".

A member of the audience asked then whether the anti-tax rallies count. No, Hadid said, they only represented the fringe. Lolwut?

She could have acknowledged that demos are bunk, then thrown the productivity commission report at Paterson — just because a carbon tax is unpopular doesn’t mean it’s not the most effective way to reduce emissions. Why wasn’t she talking about consumerism and the growth fetish? Why didn’t she beat the libertarian around the head with the fact that business wants the tax to increase certainty? Where was the acknowledgement that political leaders across the spectrum must regularly drag the electorate with them?

Oh, hold up, politics sucks because you can’t get what you want right now, I forgot. But hey, check out my blog!

The lowest point of the show was when Tony Jones flippantly remarked that there were a lot of young people at the 2005 Cronulla riots, and not one panelist got indignant about it. Thomas cracked a joke about how Jones wanted us to get violent because of his own 1970s ‘Nam demo background, and with an ironic wink added "no, refugees are very important". Are you fucking kidding me? Five Gen Y "leaders" and not one protest about characterising our entire generation as racists?

That’s it. Get the gun. Either Fluffy goes to the great farm in the sky or I do.

Mark Fletcher is a bona fide Gen Y conservative. Read his response to Q and A here.

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