Let's Talk About Feelings


Feelings. We all have them. We use them for all sorts of things: writing opinion articles, penning think-pieces, composing blog posts, the list goes on. Feelings are one of the most valuable weapons we humans have in the fight against badness, but if it’s important that we have feelings and act on our feelings and tell everyone about our feelings, it’s even more important that this is mirrored in our so-called government that we so-called voted for.

Between 2007-2013, we had a government that was, essentially, devoid of feelings. You’ll remember Kevin Rudd and his “evidence-based policy”, a total rejection of what emotional Australians wanted. Rudd, whose political career was notable for creating the impression in the public that he was the result of his wife shooting the wrong Kevin when an evil robot invaded their home, was followed by Julia Gillard, who as a feminist rejected feelings along with everything else good and pure and what our Anzacs fought for.

But here we are in 2014, with a bright new shiny government which is simply bursting with feelings. Why, you’ve only got to watch a YouTube video of Joe Hockey crying to recognise something very profound about this government: it makes people vomit. But also, it feels things very deeply. So deeply that sometimes it will cry.

And this is clearly a good thing. Because as people with feelings, the fact that the government also has feelings is a clear demonstration that they are representing US: Australian citizens, as opposed to gay married union whale pirates like Labor does.

Tony Abbott, as prime minister, is all about feelings. Take the most important issue to Australians today: the aviation industry. Mr Abbott has made his position quite clear: he doesn’t want to speculate on what’s going on inside our hearts and heads.

Now would most leaders be that considerate? Most leaders, I put it to you, would speculate on what’s going on inside our hearts and heads. Most leaders would take that “I know best” attitude we know so well, and try to tell us what’s going on inside our hearts and heads.

Most leaders probably wouldn’t even consider the activities inside our hearts and heads to be all that relevant, and try to make calm reasoned decisions based on objective reality like some kind of pervert. But Tony Abbott, who is in touch with his, and everyone else’s, feelings, knows that to know what’s going on inside our hearts and heads, he needs to talk to us about what’s going on inside our hearts and heads.

He needs to have a good sit down with us all and have a nice old chat. Only then will he confidently state what’s going on inside our hearts and heads. Obviously, by then Qantas will have been sold, but that’s not really the point, is it: our feelings will have been recognised, and this is what people really want, surely?

As he notes, people are quite attached to Qantas, and to Ford, and to Holden, and yet they still don’t like to fly on Qantas or to buy Fords or Holdens. In fact people feel very strongly about all of these things: they will protest violently and hurl themselves into paroxysms of naked emotion if they are threatened, and yet will never ever spend money on them or do anything practical to help in any way. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel bad about it. It just goes to show what the prime minister has always said: feelings are complicated.

In perhaps no area are feelings more complicated than in the area of defence. Or in the area of not-defence-but-sort-of-defence, or as it is known popularly, border protection. Or more accurately, not-border-protection-but-sort-of-involving-borders. Now, some people say things like “asylum seekers are no threat to us”, but of course that’s quite irrelevant: the point is that asylum seekers make us feel bad, and not having asylum seekers nearby makes us feel good, and that’s why we don’t want a wimp in charge of border protection.

Not because it matters in the world of “facts” (to use one of those horrible unfeeling Ruddisms) – if you had a wimp in charge of border protection it wouldn’t make an actual difference: all you have to do is tell sailors to go stop boats and occasionally ring up Papua New Guinea to check whether the detention centre has burnt down; even wimps can do that.

But if we had a wimp in charge – and I don’t want to single anyone out, but let’s say for example Greg Combet – think how insecure we’d be. We could hardly sleep at night for worrying that an economic refugee might wash up somewhere and tell our wimpy minister that if he doesn’t let him and his entire family exploit the welfare system, he’ll give him a nipple cripple, and because the minister is a wimp, he just gives in. So obviously we need a man who’s willing to act on manly instinct without a thought for his nipples, like Scott Morrison. Morrison is the perfect man for the job: he makes us feel good.

And that’s why Labor and the Greens are so wrong for the job of government: they make us feel bad. They make us feel especially bad about voting for the Liberals, which is very unfair. The Liberals never made us feel bad for voting Labor: they just reassured us that probably we never did and Labor had just stolen everything. It was a relief, you’ve got to admit.

Most of all, this government feels for us, about us, and all over us. When we hurt, it feels our pain. When we’re happy, it feels our joy. When we’re angry at the government, it too feels angry that the Labor-Green coalition has duped us so badly.

Feelings. We all have them. We all make every decision in our lives based on them. Thank god these guys in Canberra are on board with that.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.