Never talk about politics on the first date
September 25, 2014 8:32 PM   Subscribe

We Made Young Liberals And Young Labor Date Each Other Vice Australia: "Who are those students who join political clubs at university? They wear suits, push flyers, and disagree by default, but what makes them tick? To find out we paired them up with the people they disagree with most—students from opposing parties—and made them go on dates with each other."
posted by cendawanita (51 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Damn, it's a video. I'd watch it but then I'd have to hear a Young Liberal talk.
posted by Joe Chip at 8:51 PM on September 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Wasn't this a short-lived* MTV show?

*idea for an
posted by clockzero at 8:55 PM on September 25, 2014


is this anything like that Onion headline, "Republican party popular among students who already look like old white men"?
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:59 PM on September 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


I hope all these dates end in marriage and then an extremely satisfying War of the Roses denouement. Danny DeVito could be from PUP.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:04 PM on September 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


OH MY GOD "Have you tried to submit some of your stuff to Farrago?"

"Uh no, I haven't, haven't really--"

"They'll take anything, don't worry."

"Yeah, I've seen some of your articles in there" BURN BUUUUURN
posted by Quilford at 9:07 PM on September 25, 2014 [24 favorites]


Mary Matalin and James Carville are still married and they have two lovely children. So there.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:15 PM on September 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh god - being involved in major party student politics should immediately disqualify you from seeking office as a representative of that party in the real world. That would save us a lot of trouble.
posted by awfurby at 9:27 PM on September 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


Yeah, disqualifying former 'Young Republicans' would eliminate a huge portion of the GOP political machine in the US.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:37 PM on September 25, 2014


So they're both right-wing career-minded go-getters setting themselves up for major party preselection, and eventual MP-dom. I presume they'll get along like a house on fire.
posted by pompomtom at 9:37 PM on September 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


awfurby, I would go a step farther and disqualify from seeking office anyone who wants to seek office. No politics for you unless you got drafted.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:58 PM on September 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh man, I almost feel sorry for any young lib at La Trobe, because they are (or were in my day) such a rare breed. (Especially in politics subjects, though maybe less so in business). On the other hand: dude, taking a date to La Porchetta? Cringe.
posted by retrograde at 10:01 PM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh god - being involved in major party student politics should immediately disqualify you from seeking office as a representative of that party in the real world.

Should have scrap metal tied to them and be unceremoniously dumped in the Pacific.
posted by Jimbob at 10:07 PM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I want to throw up on all of these people.
posted by analogue at 10:12 PM on September 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh man, I almost feel sorry for any young lib at La Trobe, because they are (or were in my day) such a rare breed.

I was at La Trobe from 2010 to 2012 and my first thought on reading this was "wait, we had a Liberal Club?" I don't think anything has changed in that regard. But then, even people who liked Labor got side-eyed, so. The only parties it really seemed socially acceptable to support (with the caveat that I mostly interacted with other arts students) were lefty minor parties like the Sex Party. The Greens, maybe. I mean, I'm sure there are plenty of La Trobe students who prefer the Liberals, but they don't talk about it and I don't blame them.
posted by lwb at 10:30 PM on September 25, 2014


And for any fellow Americans who are confused or forget the differences of political parties, Labour in Australia is similar to Labour in the UK or strong liberalism in the US, I guess, but Liberal in Australia is more like the UK's Conservative party or the US' light-moderate conservatives? Am I getting that right?
posted by JauntyFedora at 10:38 PM on September 25, 2014


Am I getting that right?

I think it's probably more accurate, after recent shenanigans, to say Labor in Australia is like Liberal in Australia.
posted by Jimbob at 10:42 PM on September 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


So, in Australia, liberal means conservative and labor means liberal? What does conservative mean there?

If Rush Limbaugh moved to Australia his head would explode.
posted by HappyEngineer at 10:42 PM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


in Australia

*in everywhere except America
posted by Quilford at 10:44 PM on September 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


So, in Australia, liberal means conservative and labor means liberal?

Well okay, "liberal" is used to mean "economic liberalism", eg. free market ideology. It's generally never used as a synonym for "progressive". Conservative means conservative.
posted by Jimbob at 10:45 PM on September 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


HappyEngineer: I think that if any ultraconservative, bible thumping talking head were to leave the USA (for whatever reason, they probably refuse to get passports as a point of pride) they'd be in for a surprise.
posted by flippant at 10:49 PM on September 25, 2014


In Australia, we often specify either "big-L Liberal" (conservative) and small-l liberal (progressive).

I was at La Trobe from 2010 to 2012 and my first thought on reading this was "wait, we had a Liberal Club?"

When I was there (2003-2006), the most popular conservative group was called something like "Business Students Get Jobs." That was all on-campus politics, of course, which is its own form of crazy. Most student politics elections were fought between Labor left and the Socialists, from memory.
posted by retrograde at 10:51 PM on September 25, 2014


See, Australia - it's not just us that finds it weird and confusing that your conservative party is called the Liberal Party! Yes, we understand that it's because of reasonsTM, but really? It seems like it's just asking for trouble.

Yours sincerely, New Zealand.
posted by Soulfather at 11:06 PM on September 25, 2014


Clearly we need to send Australia and New Zealand on a date to work out these differences.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:07 PM on September 25, 2014 [21 favorites]


See, Australia - it's not just us that finds it weird and confusing that your conservative party is called the Liberal Party! Yes, we understand that it's because of reasonsTM, but really? It seems like it's just asking for trouble.

I think if there was any confusion it would probably work in their favour, i.e letting them pick up votes from people who identify as small-l liberal but don't actually follow politics. I personally know someone who voted for Family First because "well, families are good!" She was kind of horrified when she realised what she'd actually voted for.

I never liked the name National. Something about the way it implies they speak for everybody. Which, yes, I realise is the point.
posted by lwb at 11:37 PM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is there a word for feeling furiously angry at and deeply sorry for someone at the same time? That's how I feel for people in student politics.
posted by threecheesetrees at 12:09 AM on September 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Maybe they could spend a pleasant evening using tasers on each other.
posted by Segundus at 1:31 AM on September 26, 2014


The major right-wing party in Denmark is called Venstre, which means "left". When I moved from there to Australia, the name of the Liberal Party here didn't faze me in the least.
posted by lollusc at 1:43 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, in Australia, liberal means conservative and labor means liberal? What does conservative mean there?

When you drown government in the bathtub, it circles the drain the opposite way.
posted by hal9k at 2:00 AM on September 26, 2014 [26 favorites]


Hm. Aussie kids can't bowl.
posted by evil_esto at 2:06 AM on September 26, 2014


Back when I was at university (ages ago), Young Labor seemed to be where future career politicians would go; they had impeccable graphic design on their flyers, talked a good socialist talk, and inevitably were well prepared for becoming part of the system. The Liberal Club, meanwhile, was full of entitled rich kids drunk on Hayek, reducing everything to market forces, with the occasional Ignatius Reilly-style Catholic neoreactionary. There were quite a few Marxist/Maoist/Trotskyist/anarchist groups as well, which probably had better drugs and better sex than everyone else.
posted by acb at 2:44 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh god - being involved in major party student politics should immediately disqualify you from seeking office as a representative of that party in the real world. That would save us a lot of trouble.

I would vote for this in an instant - student politics to national politics has been almost a standard career path over here for the last 30 years, and I can tell you the end result sucks. Disqualify close family members of current office-holders while you are at it, and anyone who hasn't spent at least ten years working in the real world. Only problem is you might end up with actual people running your country, and who knows where that might lead.

There were quite a few Marxist/Maoist/Trotskyist/anarchist groups as well, which probably had better drugs and better sex than everyone else.

A truth universally acknowledged, it seems.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:47 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's quite simple. Australia is governed by a conservative coalition government between the Liberals and the Nationals with Labor in opposition, just as Britain is governed by a conservative coalition government between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives with Labour in opposition. (This coincidence expires 7 May 2015.)
posted by rory at 2:58 AM on September 26, 2014


The Liberal Club, meanwhile, was full of entitled rich kids drunk on Hayek, reducing everything to market forces, with the occasional Ignatius Reilly-style Catholic neoreactionary.

...and now we just call that "Cabinet".
posted by pompomtom at 2:59 AM on September 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Quilford: "OH MY GOD "Have you tried to submit some of your stuff to Farrago?""

I submitted something to Farrago once and they turned it down. I happened to read my submission about a year later and was immensely grateful that they didn't publish it.
posted by vanar sena at 3:38 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hm. Aussie kids can't bowl.
Even when they grow up, they tend to do it underarm.
posted by dg at 4:17 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


, but what makes them tick?

Unbridled narcissism and a terrifyingly intense Dunning-Kruger effect.
posted by smoke at 5:24 AM on September 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Student politicians are like shoes made of poo: disgusting to contemplate even the most fleeting contact with, and lacking any reason for existing at all.
posted by smoke at 5:27 AM on September 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can any Australian advise whether student politics is an effective launching pad for a politically ambitious Australian? As a rule in the US it has that character at flagship state universities, and does not have that character at private schools and "directional" state universities.
posted by MattD at 5:56 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Former PM John Howard joined the Young Liberals at 18, as a student at Sydney Uni. He's probably the most prominent Australian example of a student politician who went straight into politics (as president of the Young Liberals, then campaign manager for a Liberal candidate, and then as a candidate himself).
posted by rory at 6:57 AM on September 26, 2014


in everywhere except America

It's good to be the America.
posted by notyou at 7:27 AM on September 26, 2014


I've been to community college and to buddhist college, but not to I guess one of the schools where this party politic student body stuff seems to be happening (or I was oblivious?) however when I was young I thought politics were fucking boring and I didn't give a fuck about Nicaragua and all that ANARCHY YEAH! But then you know I turned 17 and started thinking maybe understanding and being involved in politics was a good idea but never really got involved in local community politics to the level I wish I would have.

Shouldn't we want the kids to care passionately about and become educated about politics? Is student political life innately bad or is there someway it could be change do to serve a better role? Or should students who want to understand and engage in politics seek other ways of being involved in the community? I had no idea student politics were so awful, I knew I had a vomit reaction to the concept of sororities and fraternities (which I've tried to dial back I can imagine there could be some that are/were used as more than a gross snobby popularity contest of securing privileged over everyone else who doesn't get in. )

If I'm going too far off the dating aspect of this post I will accept memails in explanation of this if anyone knows more about it! As I've gotten older I've felt really strongly that the anti-political jadedness of my 90's and 2000's young people generation was a really bad thing and lead to people who had really good hearts and minds doing jack shit when they could have been much more involved in organizing stronger positive social movements. Is campus life innately a bad place to facilitate more people being interested and involved?
posted by xarnop at 7:30 AM on September 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


The criticism here is specifically about running for student council or joining political party student groups. Those are well-established career paths for would-be professional politicians. For everyone else, there are better ways to become politically engaged as a student. When you volunteer for a campus human rights group or whatever, you're learning how to put pressure on the political machine, rather than trying to join it.
posted by twirlip at 8:09 AM on September 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think it's just sort of that the party affiliated student groups tend to be filled with insufferable types who have very little life experience but feel sure that after skim-reading the Communist Manifesto for a class, they know exactly how to Fix The World. And from my admittedly limited experience, with the party groups, it's not about trying to effect political change. It's about networking, it's about resumes, it's about forming a comfortable echo-chamber with a bunch of other people that you know from the get-go share your beliefs, or at least the political label you've affixed to yourself. My experience of uni political life was that people who actually wanted to work for change usually had an issue or issues they were passionate about and either were part of a campus group related to that, or more often were actively participating in "real world" groups where they had the benefit of more resources, other peoples' experience and ideas, and so on.
posted by lwb at 8:27 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


And don't forget internal ideological policing. That's pretty much the top priority of every on-campus party-affiliated political group that I ever had the misfortune of running into.

Imagine a dead horse surrounded by a circular firing squad.

The interest-specific groups (environmental, reproductive rights, etc.) were where Shit Got Done.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:49 AM on September 26, 2014 [2 favorites]




Can any Australian advise whether student politics is an effective launching pad for a politically ambitious Australian?

It depends what party, I guess, but it definitely is for Labor and the Libs. In fact, for the Labor Party -- which is highly factionalised and rife with complicated rivalries and alliances -- I would say it's pretty important to start making friends early if you want to gain pre-selection later.
posted by retrograde at 9:19 AM on September 26, 2014


Two student political groups I had positive-ish experiences with at my university:

- Students for International Development. Hunger banquets, study abroad, discussion of successes and failures of the domestic labor movement, studies of microfinance... just a great overall experience for me to participate. Perhaps surprisingly, I felt like there really weren't even that many "we can fix everything if we just _____" kids -- possibly because some of them had actually spent time in problem places in Iraq or Central America and figured out really quick how little they knew and how complex issues could be, possibly because the faculty advisors were also pretty good about teaching how many dimensions go into socioeconomic problems.

- The student body association really had some good bits too. I volunteered for a semester trying to get a system up that would help make connections between community orgs that needed volunteers and students who wanted to be volunteers. This was also one of my first experiences with bureaucracy, bland aspirational upward-mobility that I later recognized in the cube farm, and a kind of interest in volunteerism/service that's more focused on the idea and making video productions about the good the organization is doing than the work of doing good. Mixed experience (but they did eventually get that volunteer exchange off the ground!).

I guess there were also absolutely student orgs of the insufferable stripe around too, but I might even thank them for some insights -- the public spat between the Dittohead Conservative Club and a feminist student organization made me pretty certain that whatever my underdeveloped political views were that I wasn't a movement conservative (and also contributed to an awareness that both tone of discussion and ability to look beyond tone matter).
posted by weston at 10:38 AM on September 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


O hai! I was an elected student politician. The ticket I ran with was Labor-ish, but most of us had come to the student union through the women's collective. There were three or four members of the exec who were lifelong Labor and for whom the student union was the next step in their political career - they are now staffers but none have gone on to run for political seats themselves (yet, we are still in our 30s so that may well change).

The best part about being a student politician was that I actually represented students (postgrads in my case) on the Academic Board and a number of policy committees, as a full voting member. Representation is the least recognised and least sexy part of being in student government, and the most important. There were a number of decisions I initiated or was part of that improved students' lives, and I'm proud of that. It was also excellent training for political organisation and activism, and I learnt to manage a team of staff and how to run an organisation with a multimillion dollar budget - at age 21.

But yes, for some people it is definitely an important step in their political career. I have no idea about the Australian student political landscape now, but office in the national orgs (NUS and CAPA) was where those people saw the real power and recognition, and local office was basically an essential step to attain that.
posted by goo at 1:34 PM on September 26, 2014


It cannot be healthy if the route to political power is student activism followed by a job as a staffer for a politician or unionist, then to the holy grail: preselection.
posted by Aedo55 at 2:51 PM on September 26, 2014


And the Greens as well. Sarah Hanson-Young's name first became known to me at the University of Adelaide, where she was a perpetual candidate.

My frustration with student politics, apart from the "career politician" angle was simply how juvenile and hopeless it always was. It went like this, every year;

1. Election called.
2. Dreadful campaigning by parties with meaningless names like Activate and Student Voice- ones party was the Tories, one was Labor-left, one was Labor-Right, one was engineering students who just wanted cheaper beer in the bar. But they never admitted to the plans which was which, and changed names every year. All campaigning on things the student union couldn't hope to change.
3. Election week where candidates bribe you with beer to vote for them.
4. Angry arguments in the student newspaper four months.
5. Court of disputed returns.

So fucking tragic.
posted by Jimbob at 6:01 PM on September 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


The standard path for aspiring politicians nowadays is working for a successful politician, so the real question is "is student politics a good way to get jobs like that?" My answer is yes, almost certainly. Student politics is hardly significant in any real sense, but it lets you meet lots of real politicians. If you're good at circulating you will probably get invited to all sorts of things you couldn't otherwise access. It's much better for this than the Young Liberals / Young Labor because those organisations are larger and their members are expected to already have chosen careers; you don't have that expectation at a student level, so it doesn't look as if you're some weirdo that can't make it in the real world.

Incidentally, the Liberal Party was named by Bob Menzies as a direct snub to the ALP. The name was supposed to be associated with the "liberal" arts and virtues associated with free (i.e., non-communist) people, but I think everyone knew that "liberal" is the antonym of "servile": things characteristic of slaves, or laborers. The ALP at the time had a lot of Communist members who were basically directed by Moscow, so implying that the Liberal Party's opponents were "servile" was a very effective piece of rhetoric.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:46 PM on September 28, 2014


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