John Howard, 31 August, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) It’s always good to stand in front of a flag when playing the politics of fear.
It’s on again. Increasingly right wing politics has become a politics of fear and Tony Abbot has learnt the lessons well at the feet of John Howard.
In the movie “The American President”, close to the end, Michael Douglas gives a speech defending his new girlfriend from character attacks from a Republican hopeful.
I’ve known Bob Rumson for years, and I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character. And wave an old photo of the President’s girlfriend and you scream about patriotism and you tell them, she’s to blame for their lot in life,
Well what happens if we do some editing? If we take that speech and replace ‘family’ with ‘battlers’, ‘American values’ with ‘Australian values’ and ‘character’ with ‘huge deficits’. Then switch ‘the President’s girlfriend’ with ‘refugee boats’ and scream about ‘Australian borders’.
Does that sound like the noises we are getting from the Coalition? Check this story from their puppet newspaper “A Coalition Would Change National History Curriculum” and this one “Activists disrupt Abbott’s ‘illegal boats’ tally”.
Is this a party that is talking about the future shape of our country? Or are we likely to have a government after September that got there by “making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it”?
The U.S. amazes me. You have a country of great vigour and influence, huge energy and great riches. I enjoy my visits to my family in the US.
At the same time it disgusts me. A country of huge divisions where some of the richest people in the world happily pick their way through abject poverty every day. A country with some of the best health care in the world yet far too many can either not afford or bankrupt themselves and their families for that same care. A country where schools and universities have world wide reputations for excellence and students are crippled with huge student loans to pay for it or cannot afford it.
Then there is the final disgust. A country which has gun violence levels commensurate with failed nation states in Africa such as Sierra Leone. A nation which in ten years had as twice as many mass schooling shooting as the rest of the world combined.
And what do you do? Every time you wring your hands and shed your crocodile tears and change nothing. You allow the entire debate to be suborned by vested interests. You allow your politicians to be bought and sold by influential but small lobby groups. Your argue over your Second Amendment. You even allow your Christian lobby to use the massacre of twenty children under the age of ten as an excuse in favour of school prayer. I’m not the only person to think so, this article The Newtown massacre: Fake tears, in The Economist agrees with me.
What could you do? In 1996 Australia had major shooting massacre at Port Arthur that horrified our nation, just as the US is now horrified, just as the US has been horrified by previous tragic shootings. The difference is that Australia did something, our Federal government dragged our State governments to the table and sweated out a national agreement that banned a large number of types of guns, including handguns. You can read a quite good guide to gun politics in Australia on WikiPedia.
Joe Hockey is not just any old member of the Liberal Party, he is Shadow Treasurer and this is the sort of behaviour we have come to expect from senior members of Tony Abbot’s opposition. How to show the good side of Australian politics Joe.
Totally devoid of policies, constantly negative and constantly bullying.