What House of Cards teaches us about Australian Politics

May 18, 2016
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For four thrilling seasons, the political drama House Of Cards has kept the world waiting on the edge of their seats for the moves of Frank Underwood, his wife and their plans to take over the most powerful seats in American politics. But House Of Cards has also taught us a lot more than just ruthless pragmatism, murder at all costs for power and giving up half the average student’s hourly wage on one month’s worth of Netflix.

Here is a selection of the greatest House Of Cards quotes from its illustrious character list and how it teaches us about Australian politics.

“The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and casualties.”

How appropriate this is seeing as we’ve had five prime ministers in five years. The leadership spill in which Abbott lost to Turnbull was as a result of a belief that “the party’s standing with voters is terminal [under Abbott]”. Funnily enough, before this happened Turnbull admitted that although he was an ambitious person, he would not want to be PM “at any price”. How ironic and hypocritical. The casualty? Tony Abbott. And as a result, we have the five PMs in five years saga. Poor bastard.

And remember how Mr Abbott saying “We are not the Labor Party” in regards to the leadership revolving door syndrome? Hmm… eat your words Mister.

“Proximity to power deludes some into thinking they wield it.”

And so we come to the Labor Party story. Welp.

In this case, it was not just proximity to power but rather a direct oversight and analysis of ‘government paralysis’ that led Julia Gillard to take Kevin’s job (but not before he took his job back off her in 2013).

Gillard claimed that in government, a leadership uncertainty is a distraction from the business of government. Rudd said that to keep his job would be in “the national interest”. The AWU national secretary then went on to remind all of us that we elected the party, not necessarily the man. I call that trumping (see what I did there) personality politics; but then again, Gillard was in a perfect proximity to power, perhaps explaining her three year reign as PM.

And finally…
“Nothing is permanent. Not even this building. [Harmony] is about an individual voice coming together. For a moment.”

This has to be one of my personal favourites and I believe it has to do with what we all do as a nation when we elect our leaders.

No government is permanent and neither are there policies. What is permanent is the desire for a national harmony where the individual voice joins with others to make a decision that they believe is best for themselves, their families, their friends and all of Australia for the years that follow.

While this article has dealt mostly in leadership spills and the aphorism that “democracy is overrated”, a freedom to make decisions for our nation’s future is not a bad liberty to have. All of us – young, old, born here, born overseas – realise that the fact we have this right is darn fantastic.

We all belong to an electorate. And every electorate gets to have their say.

So here’s some Underwood advice from me to you, the young voter:

“Generosity is its own form of power.”

Your vote is a form of power. You have a permanent say, despite the fact that perhaps your vote won’t be the same in three years.  In that sense, democracy is not overrated – it’s just a house of cards waiting to topple at the wrong time. In Australiana, we call these leadership spills.

You’re welcome.

Hans Lee

Hans Lee is a Commerce/Arts student at Macquarie University and is in his first year. He majors in Economics and Communication and is hoping he won’t be the subject of a comedy act near you. You can tweet him @hansleetweets

Image: House Of Cards official Facebook page