The system is broken. This is a common response in many political discussions across social media. I disagree. I believe we are broken. Not the system.
Over the years we have seen many right-wing parties rise up across the world out of what I would describe as the bottomless pit of apathy and agitation. Analysis of the voter demographic these parties appeal to are largely the low socio-economic working class, welfare recipients or a mix of work and welfare. In addition, this demographic is usually described as having a lower level of education and most likely live in regional and rural areas. Essentially, individuals within these groups have barrier/s of disadvantage.
Marine Le Pen like Pauline Hanson, leads a right-wing Conservative-Nationalist party. Le Pen in France, Hanson in Australia.
Both Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Le Pen’s Nationalist Front, target high unemployment, low-income areas, where the lower-middle working class are struggling to make ends meet.
Once the voice of the anti-worker and champions of Austerity take hold, it gets harder and harder but much easier for parties such as these to take hold.
Tactical Trump Manoeuvres
As we see with Trump’s tactical objectives in the USA campaign, Trump can easily be completely devoid of any real solutions. Solutions do not matter. The main objective is to bring to the surface the abject feeling of despair and find a target to blame that despair on. The target is always a minority group.
The game play then is to just pop up and say he will fix it. How, is not important. A way out of the feeling of frustration and anger is. This is consistent with the right-wing conservative-nationalists parties making headway through populist politics.
In all cases, Trump, Hanson and Le Pen, the target for blame are Muslims. Other cultures and particular races can be mixed in as well. However, the key objective is that the voter-target demographic are not familiar with these groups. Members of these group are most likely not prevalent in the demographics of the voter-target regions. They are not usually known as close friends, or family members of the voter-target demographic.
They key is to divide us. The key is to make us broken.
The Appeal of One Nation in the Regions.
Taking this into consideration, there should be no surprise that One Nation votes are high in Regional Queensland. Regional Queensland ticks all the boxes for the target voter demographic.There are very few Muslims and these areas do not have a heavy concentration of multiculturalism. This makes these groups easy targets for blame, as members within these groups appear foreign and not familiar.
Unemployment is rising, wages have stagnated, parents worry constantly about their children’s future, water is scarce in some places and if you are sick, you may need to travel more than twelve hours to get treatment and stay thousands of miles away from those who love you and support you. These things take a toll on people. It really is not fair.
The reason these target groups are selected to place blame on; is it is much easier to dehumanise a race, or a particular group if there is no personal connection to that race or group.
It should be no surprise that One Nation has backed off attacking and degrading Aboriginals as ‘the other lot that get everything we don’t’ as was her key mantra her first time in office.
That is because times have changed and there is much more acceptance and a lot of divisiveness from the 80s, 90s and early 2000’s has healed. A lot of lifelong friendships have been made and mixed families are the norm today.
The same applies for Asians as a target. It would be ridiculous to state that we are being swamped by Asians, when it still has not come true 20 years after Hanson campaigned on this the first time.
Consistently, Pauline Hanson, just like Pen and Trump, deflect blame to minority groups.
If anyone tells me that Hanson is not taking aim at a target demographic to exploit their vulnerabilities and anxieties for her own financial and political gain…I call B*llshit!
The System isn’t Broken – It’s Us.
The link between Trump, Le Pen and Hanson, is that people are turning away from the policy makers and turning to the populist makers. Policy is complex. It needs to take into account the interests of multiple stakeholders and other factors. Policy isn’t three word slogans. Seriously, what has Jobson Growth done for you since July 2?
I am not saying by any means that all policy is where it should be. However, a true progressive would never be satisfied with the status quo. Otherwise, they would be a conservative. That is why regardless of past hurdles to achieving marriage equality, even within Labor; the voices who believed in this change, stayed there and advocated that change. They did not quit and join a splinter party or chucked in the towel.
Today, the hateful and divisive plebiscite was voted down and Labor guarantees to legislate for marriage equality within the first 100 days,
if when they win office, in 2019 2017.
It is only by strong voices staying there and fighting that fight, that they remained unbroken.
It’s Born in You.
I read two sentences today that really, truly affected me. Deng Adut – NSW Australian of the Year, said:
A person was not an Australian because they were born in Australia but because Australia was born in them.
What a person did for their country was what made it meaningful.
Not only was it one of the most powerful quotes ever in our history, Adut’s words made me reflect on my decision to join a political party. That is, that regardless of whether you agree with my politics or not (Labor), I am engaged at a level as much as I can be. From a very young age, when I saw how my parents struggled under Fraser, and I listened to the contrast of Hawke, politics was born in me. I’ve bled red since.
I have no aspirations to become a politician (I would love to be a researcher for a politician, but that is as far as it would go). However, I get engaged in politics, with like-minded people and we collaborate and share ideas to put forward.
I cannot speak for other parties, but I know in the party I chose to join – Labor, we have policy discussion as a standing agenda item, we have a Regional Conference, where everyday people like you and me, put forward our policy ideas, this then goes onto State Conference and Federal Conference. That is democracy at work. That is grassroots. It is being heard. That is the bottom up approach and I am proud to be a part of it.
The noise in the media about political parties, the personalities within, the factions or divisions, is not what it is about. Politics is about a wider cause. Every party gets there in a different way.
If you are looking to have a voice, make it heard. Don’t just wait for someone to listen. We have free agency in this country. Well, no not all of us. Some of us don’t. If you know people who have trouble speaking up, or minority groups that are not heard, be an ally and ask if you can assist with advocacy. Also, join activist groups. Get involved.
We are broken because we are turning away from the collectivist roots that have bound us and allowed us to achieve progress for many years. We are broken because we are fractioning off. We still have voices, but they are fractured and quiet. Not loud and united.
We see this fractioning so strongly in the USA right now, just within the left itself. Here we have the most dangerous USA Republican Presidential candidate in my lifetime and the only party who can stop this, is the Democrats. We have seen Bernie supporters still dedicated to someone who will not be in power. Who has no possible way to stop Trump. Yet, this loyalty is more important than joining in the SAME party and doing their very best for the cause. Or the third-party voters who are also doing absolutely nothing to stop Trump. Just championing their cause.
Sometimes it is more important to stop someone so destructive, than be a ‘champion for your cause.’ This scenario is no different in Australia today.
A political party cannot effect change, if they are not in power. Evil will not be stamped out, if they are always in power.
The Birth of Liberal and Labor
The Liberal and National Coalition and the Labor Party are the ONLY two parties that can form Government. They were born from two competing view points and still are two competing ideologies. They are not the same. FriendlyJordies will explain why.
The Labor party was born from unionists standing collectively side by side and fighting for their rights. A simple fair days work for a fair days pay. Today, that is not such a radical idea, because this fight – the real bloodshed and jail time of everyday workers, gave us that. The fact that unions are out there every single day fighting for our rights, also gives us that. But the battle is still on.
The Liberal party was born from the idea that non-Labor parties join together to fight against those who fight for the worker and advocate Individualism and the Free Market. As we can see with policy positions such as the ABCC, privatisation of public services, abolishment of penalty rates, reducing or abolishing the minimum wage, punitive job seeker frameworks and other attacks on welfare. That this battle is still on.
It is a simple equation. For the middle and lower working class, work is central to everything we do. It puts food on the table, it buys school uniforms, it pays the rent or the mortgage, it puts petrol in the car, and it gives us choices of leisure to name a few.
For people who are not in receipt of a working wage for whatever reason, it is our responsibility as citizens to make sure that those who are for individualism and austerity, do not have louder voices than the ones who are for unity and solidarity.
Decent wages and fair conditions and a supportive welfare system, do not just come wrapped up in a bow at Christmas. They are fought for. Long and hard by so many today and before us.
Be the Glue that fixes the system
Whatever your political persuasion, I fully encourage you to join a political party. If not Labor (which obviously I’m biased and I’d recommend), choose a major party who can form Government and effect change, which has the same democratic bottom up approach to policy and member’s voice that Labor has.
No, Labor does not have perfect policy in all areas. However, members are given a voice for change on serious platforms. To progress, political parties need the people to be champions of that change. As Obama has said:
Obama does not belong to a third-party or a splinter group.
If you want the system to not be broken, get amongst it and be the glue that fixes the system. Have a louder voice than the voices who are putting forward the policies you don’t like. Be part of the change you want to see.
Don’t just listen to someone who says they are listening but have no real solutions. Be the solution.
Even after knowing a third-party, splinter group will never gain power and can never effect real change and you still decide to align yourself with a splinter group or a third party; fight the bloody enemy for goodness sake. We don’t need a replica of Sanders vs. Clinton in Australia when there are Orcs to slay! Take a leaf out of Albo’s book and “Fight some Tories.”
Unity is Key
Unity is the key. Not splintering off into smaller groups. This is the only thing that can beat the loud voices of Populism, Nationalism, Conservatism and Austerity.
John Howard showed us this when he forced us to use Australian Workplace Agreements and tried to abolish collective agreements. His policies were purposely built to break us.
One voice – your voice to stand alone to negotiate your wage, is pointless, especially when he abolished unfair dismissal laws at the same time. Never. Ever. Forget.
As Albo said tonight on Qanda, The Liberals and the Nationals – always, always try to divide us. It is their key strategy always. Splintering off into smaller groups, or deciding politics isn’t worth it, divides us even further. It is in their interest to make us broken. Hanson and parties like her’s are the bots that feed off the negative emotions that bleed out from all of this.
Hanson may not have been voted in on this platform, but everything her party has backed so far in the Senate, shows what they actually stand for. That is joining with the Liberals to create more and more division and more and more hardship for the worker and those on welfare. Working against the very interests of her voter base.
The Trump experience shows us how powerful and ugly the anti-worker, anti-socialism, anti-environmentalism, anti-woman, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, ableist, nationalist populist can be, when they have a huge following. We don’t need that here.
I believe we are at the cusp of that tipping point in Australia. Right here. Right now. We do have the power to change that. Together. Unbroken. In Unity.