Bleak. Grim. Humiliating.
How empty all these words start to seem when placed against the almost incomprehensible cowardice and vacility of our current Prime Minister. Truly we stand in the middle of an Arctic tundra of deliberate mediocrity, last husky dead on the ground and our rations long since exhausted. In the distance, we see a polar bear padding towards us, extra hungry now that global warming has begun eroding its usual food stocks.
We don’t call Tony Abbott a coward enough. We call him plenty of other things, but for some reason we rarely call him for what he is: a bleating coward of a man, empty of conviction or purpose, animated solely by concerns of survival and petty point scoring. I’ve eaten muesli with more drive than Tony Abbott brings to the proper governance of this country.
Here’s the worst thing about Abbott’s “victory” on marriage equality: he knows. He knows it’s a matter of time. He knows that soon, after a brief and unnecessary war of attrition, we will join the host of nations, including both of our cultural forebears, who have graduated from the aggressive judgments demanded by a religious idea of love. He knows that nothing he can possibly do will stop gay marriage from becoming the undisputed law of an Australia who has already left him behind.
He knows that within his lifetime, actually well before, he will find himself attending the wedding of his sister to the woman of her choosing. That at that ceremony he will stand with everyone else and applaud as they declare their love to the world. That he’ll charge his glass along with everyone else and pretend that he’s OK with it. He’ll shake their hands and smile and inside a void will open and he’ll know that he has lost.
He knows all this and yet still he disavows responsibility. He defers and dithers. He doesn’t even need to be the one that pulls the trigger. Others will do that for him. It would cost him nothing to just let it happen. Indeed, it would be an almost untrammelled political good for him and his party. It’s not a core issue, sure. But that in itself suggests that it should be easy to simply legislate it away. Put it behind you and announce you respect the decision of the Parliament, as is usually the idea with representative democracy. Perhaps even pat yourself on the back for allowing a little extra kindness into this world.
So, why? He has proven himself pliable and devoid of principle on all other policy issues – with perhaps the exception of reffo-bashing and environmental destruction – so why this?
Because he can’t bear being defeated yet again. That in the face of his almost total erosion of authority by the party he purports to lead, he grasps for something that will give him the illusion of power. The illusion of unity. Take that, homos! Not on my watch. Victory is the only thing that drives him now.
But it’s not enough. It never will be. He’s an empty vessel of sound and fury, wanting to believe that he counts for something. But he has squandered the respect of the people and his party. He will never get it back and my heart sings to know it.
So here I go: you, Tony Abbott, are a coward, and an embarrassment to our nation. My only hope is that one day you’ll realise how much of a mistake you were and feel the unbridled shame you evoke in the people you lead.