The Four Voices of the Yes Campaign


This is a follow up post to my The Four Voices of the No Campaign article last week.

As per that previous post, a few introductory notes:

  1. This is based on my personal sphere, I’m not pretending it is representative of the wider community
  2. This won’t discuss any of the issues, it is purely about the groups that are voting Yes

With that said, here’s my current observation of the groups (voices’) of people voting Yes:

Group 1: The Extremists

These people have embraced the Yes position with passion, but are frustrated that they aren’t the majority.

To them, voting Yes seems like a no-brainer, as if the referendum is a simple black and white decision.

They see any objection to their view as an indication of racism, backwards thinking and being on the wrong side of history. They can’t comprehend why anyone would vote No.

Flummoxed by this normal process of democratic society they resort to name calling and shaming, and appeals to their other extremists for support.

Their social feeds are a mix of anger and collective back patting as they call out another No voter, as if accusing them of apostasy.

They are the noisiest group by far.

Group 2: The Informed Intelligent 

These people have looked into the issues and thoughtfully decided they are voting Yes.

They’ve actually read the referendum booklet (crazy right?) as well as the various websites, and likely a few books as well.

Even though, admittedly, they came from a position of Yes (they were never going to vote No), they still investigated both sides and thoughtfully reviewed the No case.

Whilst they reject the misinformation coming from some parts of the No campaign, they’re open enough to understand that there are valid concerns on the No side, but in the balance of considerations they are firmly voting Yes.

When they are out campaigning for Yes, they are attentive and patient, even with the misinformed.

Group 3: The Followers 

These are the people who just go with the flow of their peers. 

And there’s nothing wrong with that. A functioning society needs a lot more followers than leaders.

However, there’s a spectrum here. As long as you follow your peers respectfully and politely, you do you.

But at the other end of the spectrum, there’s blind mob mentality that grows into confrontational, rude and perhaps even violent behaviour. There’s no place for that on either side. 

Group 4: The Hopeful

These are the everyday people who’ve given the referendum a small measure of consideration, and are voting Yes because they believe in the bigger, albeit generic, picture the Voice is aiming for.

They feel it’s time to acknowledge First Nations people, and whilst they don’t understand the nuances of the referendum and how it will be implemented, they aren’t really concerned with those machinations anyway. 

They’ve seen that the current approach hasn’t been working and trust that the very people who need to be helped will have a good chance of influencing future policy to improve the situation. 

They realise that nothing’s perfect, and this vote will have no doubt have its fair share of knock-on negative effects, but overall the situation will improve.

These are people who appreciate how lucky they are to live in a country like Australia, even with the cost of living crisis, inflation, and other economic conditions, and believe in pulling others up, rather than overprotecting their own situations.

These are the people who ultimately drive a country, even if it is one step back for every two steps forward.

The Outcome They’re All After

Comparing the groups, they’re all after the same outcome.

But the activities of each will have vastly different effects on people.

Dinner party or coffee catchups with people in Group 2 are stimulating, whilst encounters with a person in Group 1 are exhausting.

My Position

I’m not pretending this is an impartial piece, I’m definitely voting Yes.

But I will say that my approach has changed over the past few months.

To my regret, I was initially in Group 1, thinking the Yes vote was a no brainer, and treated vocal No voters with derision. 

I meant well, but now realise how hypocritical I was: promoting respect for our First Nations people whilst having no respect for my fellow family and friends who were thinking through the issues.

I’m now in Group 4, although I aspire to be in Group 2.

My main agenda with these posts isn’t to convince people to Vote Yes (that’s a given), rather it’s to convince Yes voters in Group 1 to be thoughtful, respectful and inclusive of all.

If the No vote wins, and I fear it will, you’ll still have to interact and live with those who voted No. Much better to proceed down the uncertain future with harmony than as adversaries. 

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By Craig Bailey