Thursday, April 28, 2022

Australian Politics - the Liberals' demise is structural, not personal


Biggest problem with Australian politics today is the Liberal Party. I don’t mean the people running it (and the government) – that’s a different discussion. I mean the ding an sich – the thing itself. This is coming from someone whose politics/philosophy are generally ‘liberal’.

The Liberal Party binds together ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’, into what boosters like to call a ‘broad church’. Try explaining that to someone from the US – “Whaddayamean? The Republicans and the Democrats are in the same party?” they laugh. Mind you, no shortage of problems with their political conceptions.

The liberals and the conservatives have been enmeshed in Australia since at least the ’40s, when they came together for two reasons:

1.           To defeat communism

2.           Neither on their own is big enough to keep Labor out of government (and in fact, not even then – they have the Nationals to wag the dog)

Communism was defeated some time ago, so strike that raison d’etre.

The Coalition are primarily focussed on keeping Labor out of government, so much so it often appears the government’s main job is staying in power.

Meanwhile, the inherent and growing contradictions of the liberal-conservative combo are ripping the party apart. It swings from conservative control, to marginally liberal control, back to conservative. 

To summarise: internally the liberals and conservatives are at each other’s throats, while externally the party (together with the Nats) is wholly focussed on keeping Labor out of office.

Of course, Labor generates a similar argument: that it’s a marriage of convenience between old school unionised socialism and the progressive movement – an argument more pertinent if Labor, not the Coalition, had been in power for the last decade plus.

Consequent of internal strife, the Liberal Party we know is falling apart.

A swathe of would-be liberal political types (ie. not conservatives) have cottoned on to a cohort of might-be liberal voting types who’ve had it with a party past its use-by date. Those would-be liberal types have blossomed as ‘independents’, accelerating the party’s demise while pursuing agendas appropriate to liberal politics in the 21st century.

Malcolm Turnbull was perhaps the only person with the potential (if not the capacity) to avert this imminent political endgame. Could he have led the liberals away from the Liberals, cuddled up to someone (Penny Wong?) prepared to lead the progressives away from Labor, out there on the cold but comfy crossbenches? Could they have launched a centrist party to govern for a generation (or at least until complacency/entitlement caught up with them) in the interest of the bulk if not the entirety of Australia’s population.

Didn’t happen.

Instead, the Liberals are shedding, badly. The 'liberal' Liberals are stepping off.

Are independents a fundamentally bad thing? Times have changed – the mainstream is breaking down, and modern technologies grant to all and any the opportunity to investigate, even understand, the issues stemming from each and every facet of politics, nation and society. Empirical evidence might confirm that in this ‘new world’, a group of diverse hardworking people doing their homework before coming together to make transparent group-think decisions in the public eye will generate more effective policy, leadership and law than a group that comes together in private and makes decisions for reasons that may not see the light of day, decisions which will be pressed to pursue a political advantage over the ‘alternative’ government.

For me, never much of a party person (while steadfastly admiring of the good (hardworking, relatively honest, captured-not) people on all sides of politics), the option merits further exploration and consideration.



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