The man with the megaphone up on the soapbox is way ahead in the polls. He could stop campaigning now and prepare his victory speech, I reckon. But he likes the attention. He sounds genuine, but I know him well. All he’s interested in is power and status. Ironic that his party, The Australian Blue Party, is pure socialism and thus stands for everything this man is not.
I met Glen Richards back when we were in The Greens, remember them? They never could shake off that tree-huggers tag. Their social policies were ignored and the ridicule they would suffer when they stood up for a species of lizard or orchid, would undo, in a viral minute, years of policy development on employment and the economy. It was sad. So many good people who understood that the environment was fundamental to everything.
“Are you coming to the picket?” Glen would ask. He loved getting arrested.
“I’ve got a family and a mortgage,” was my usual response. Glen would mock me as being soft.
Don’t get me wrong I can be radical, I’m just not into theatrics. I let others take that role. Glen though was into everything, his ambition was seen as admirable. To me it was the face of some deep psychological trauma that I suspected had something to do with being raised in a religious cult in Adelaide. For unstated reasons the father did escape with the family to Queensland and, to me at least, it’s always been obvious that Glen is obsessed with being a success, a big wig, to prove something to his dad.
I remember the lengths Glen would go to get his own way. The worst case was when our local chapter of the Greens pre-selected a bright young girl that I’ll call Julie, to protect her identity. Glen was deluded that he was by far the best candidate. He was not going to let some young blow-in get all the glory.
“She’s just a piece of fluff,” he confided in me.
Deviously, he offered to do mock interviews with her, to prime her for the tough gruelling she could expect from the media. Regretfully, I helped draft a set of curly questions. I’m not sure what happened in the room where he interrogated her, but she came out crying. Glen acted all supportive and took her to the pub to debrief and regroup. The barman, my cousin, told me how Glen was ordering nips of vodka to be added to just one of the two schooners of beer he ordered several times. Julie got plastered in public. At the ensuing emergency meeting, Glen was voted in to stand as the Green candidate. Julie disappeared in shame.
“She should never have been drinking in the first place,” Glen told me when I confronted him about the vodka spiking. He knew then and there that I saw straight through him. He avoided me and I was glad. I told others what I knew and what I thought of him, but everyone was caught up in all that silly pre-election hype that goes on. Some even supported his touch of mongrel.
“If you’re not a bastard you’ll get eaten alive in Canberra. Glen did Julie a favour actually,” one die-hard political dog informed me on election day. Glen got 14% of the vote and was a hero of sorts for a while. I was appalled and let my membership lapse.
As we all know, over the next decade or so the political climate deteriorated rapidly. The neo-conservatives, masters at playing dirty, kept getting into power. It seemed that the worst they performed the better they went in the elections. Economic crises and terrorist attacks happened just at the right moments. The donations from big business, and the cushy jobs waiting for the puppets in parliament, all seemed entrenched and unstoppable. The apathy of the public to engage in the political process was frustrating but understandable.
That was until the food crisis.
Sick and hungry people get political, radically political. Especially when such a disaster happens in a nation listed as the wealthiest in the world. The courtesans of capitalism started looking like the fools they were. Their lies to keep striving for growth and jobs just didn’t hold water any more and the Blue movement was born. The genius of the founders to steal the colour blue right off the ties of the conservative scaremongers will likely go down as the boldest marketing ploy of the century. The band of artists, musicians and writers that for so long had been denied an existence because of government spending cuts, took the blue motif and went to town on that baby.
Blues music festivals, blue dystopian poetry, big blue sky art installations, blue sea celebrations and the return of blue jeans as the penultimate symbol of a vibrant neo-socialism, swept across the land from the flooding coast to the burning interior. The disdain of the middle class towards welfare recipients dissipated. City and country folk joined forces. The awakening to the cruel and unjust divide separating the haves and the have-nots materialised out of the blue – so to speak. The unnatural disaster started way back in the 1970s courtesy of Reagan and Thatcher, was finally coming to an end. A revolution was imminent and the Blue party was the voice of calm reason, working for change while suppressing the palpable threat of violent reprisal being drummed up in some quarters. The wealthy were frightened and stepping up security in their fancy postcode enclaves. The people were on the march.
Glen had the megaphone and the people firmly in his hand.
“Let’s reclaim the wealth of this nation the right way, at the ballot box. If we resort to blame and even violence we become as bad as the perpetrators themselves. Let’s take Canberra and rebuild a civil society based on equality and fairness.”
Your dad would be so proud, I thought sarcastically.
I couldn’t help but think that the Blue Party, so desperately needed, was also fundamentally doomed if a person such as Glen was able to rise through its ranks. Was this happening everywhere else? Would Glen and others like him become pigs with their snouts in the trough, just like George Orwell warned us of so eloquently of in his allegory, “Animal Farm”? We had been waiting so long for the rise of socialism in this country. Waiting for the public to to wake up to the inherent flaws in capitalism as the mechanism for equality. And now here, up the podium, in the flesh, was one seriously damaged human proclaiming to be the instrument of change.
I kicked myself. I had taken my eye off the ball in recent years. I had succumbed to the political apathy that I so despised. I focused on myself and my family, installing food gardens and water tanks, going off the grid. And here right under my nose, a psychopath had charmed his way into a position in the grass-roots movement about to claim government.
I went home and took out a blue-lined A4 writing pad and a blue ball-point pen, my sword. There was some fight left in me, yet! I’ll write to the Party. I’ll write his long suffering wife, Helen. She knows him well. She’ll agree to help bring him down. I’ll remind her about young Julie, but I’ll use her real name. I’ll write to Julie. I’ll write to the local Greens, some of them will have dirt and maybe a hunger for vengeance. But it’s only a week to election day.
“Dad, what are you doing? What’s the matter?” asked my youngest daughter. I was pacing around the dining table, biting that blue pen.
“Glen Richards is going to get into government. It can’t happen.”
“But don’t you want the Blues to get in, Dad?”
“Yes, they must get in and they will.” I thanked my daughter in my head. She had triggered an idea.
Glen can win the seat, let him have his day in the limelight. That is when I’ll strike. And not that messy drawn out smear campaign stuff that they call political assassination these days. I’ll opt for the old school approach. Didn’t Trotsky get an ice pick through his skull? It would be messy, but not drawn out.
I make a coffee. I grew and roasted the beans myself. Plotting murder needs lots of caffeine. My daughter comes back into the dining room with my geological hammer that was hanging in the shed. “That’s a pick isn’t it, Dad?” She she places it on the table next to my extra big mug of coffee and gives me a look that says, won’t you need this, you maniac?
I had been talking out aloud.
“Oh dear! I was just off on a rant. What did I say? I would never hurt anyone … you know that, don’t you?” My daughter laughs. She knows me.
The Blue Party’s non violence policy was right, of course … damn it!
I go back to the pad, vile tasting blue ink on my lips.
Dear Helen, …