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If Howard had won ...

By Clementine Ford - posted Friday, 30 November 2007

If Howard had won on Saturday, there would have been an awful lot of horrendously hungover young folk today, drowning in pools of their own despair. The airports would have been packed to the rafters this week as a mass exodus of my amigos and I made good on our promises to hightail it straight to New Zealand, applications for citizenship firmly in hand.

Yeah, we pretty much hated living under a Coalition government.

As a fully paid up member of Generation Y, I'm supposed to be apathetic about politics. That's what middle aged media commentators keep telling me. Just last week, The Australian's George Megalogenis argued that Kevin Rudd was not only taking the election to the “self-obsessed world of Generations Y and Whatever” but that this approach to “electioneering” was “dumbing down politics”.


Well pinch my cheeks and colour me crazy, but I'd argue there's nothing dumb about Rudd delivering an election platform to the future leaders of Australia through the language they understand best. One of the many reasons people in my age bracket have been so quick to embrace Kevinism is because he doesn't speak down to us.

Just as he understands it's good politics to address the President of China in his native Mandarin, so too does Rudd realise the way to the collective brain of Gen Y is through pop culture and computer interfacing.

Sounds pretty smart to me.

Rather than being the disinterested lot we're painted as, young folk these days are far more savvy when it comes to, well, just about anything that their parents dealt with. We might seem to have shorter attention spans, but I'd argue it's because our capacity for quickly processing information has increased. The computer generation has grown up dealing with five open windows at the same time - multi tasking is second nature to us.

Further, what are so often dismissed as being selfish concerns are anything but. What the jebus is wrong with asking “what's in it for us/me/them/you”? When Howard followed Bush into Iraq and we asked why: it wasn't because we couldn't be bothered fighting a war. It was because we questioned the validity of that war, and the sense in sending young Australians into a battle we were almost entirely convinced was bogus.

The economic successes we have celebrated over the last decade have not been coupled with great social achievements. Instead, we've taken significant backward steps in terms of equality and freedom for all. We have been governed by a warmonger and a sycophantic “yes” man to US President George W. Bush. Those of us who speak out against such atrocities have been sidelined as irrelevant lefties at best and rabid communists at worst.


This is the grand trick the last ten years of Coalition government has fostered in its people - the demonisation of anyone who dares to hope that, as a nation, we could be somehow better.

If my generation favoured Rudd, it's not because we're easily swayed by flashy lights and tricksy gimmicks but because he has addressed our very real concerns for the future of our country and our people.

We may be too young to remember what it was like to live under a Labor government, but we know all too well what it was like to live under Howard's one. Now that Rudd has risen up to usher in a new future for our country, you can bet your bottom dollar that Australia's young will flock to Kirribilli to see Howard dragged out kicking and screaming.

Because, as we fresh-faced young whippersnappers like to say, payback's a bitch.

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First published in the Sunday Mail, Adelaide, on November 25, 2007.

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About the Author

Clementine Ford is a freelance writer based in Adelaide. She writes a weekly column for the Sunday Mail. You can find her alter ego blogging at

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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