Sunday, September 8, 2013

The winter of our discontent

The Australian elections are over, and the Liberals (that is, the conservative party) won a solid victory.

For me, it feels a lot like when Reagan swept the country, despite the fact that his positions were self-evidently nonsense, and that I personally didn't know anyone that voted for him.

In worse news, the Palmer United party won a seat. This party is the hand puppet of Clive Palmer, a billionaire mining magnate who apparently decided that looting the country under the current set of laws was inefficient, and so ran a slate of candidates in every district with the aim of simply buying the entire country on the cheap. That he even got one seat is bad, but I guess it could have been worse.

The fundamental problem was the same as it was back in Reagan's day: the Left is incompetent, corrupt, and feckless. Kevin Rudd won an election, was deposed by his own party, spent three years knifing people in the back until he got the top seat again just in time for the next election. Who seriously thought Australians would vote for that kind of in-fighting? Worse, given the way the parliamentary system works here, the only way to get rid of Rudd and the brain-trust that enabled this nonsense may be to wait until they die of old age.

All in all, it was a solid rejection of the politics of self-interest and power-mongering, in favor of the politics of business interests.

I should not despair; after all, even the Liberals are not suggesting undoing Australia's national health care system. They aren't abolishing the minimum wage. All they want is to cut taxes and spending, on the theory that giving businesses and rich people more money will lead to more jobs for the rest of us, and the other theory that private enterprise will provide for the public good better than public investment. What could go wrong?

If there is one thing I could import from the USA, it would be Barrack Obama. Or even Bill Clinton. Someone who not only said the right things (to be fair a lot of what Keven Rudd said made me smile), but was actually good at this whole politics thing.

Instead, we have at least three years of sitting still. There will be no gay marriage here, no drug rehabilitation, no action on climate change, no expansion of the public health into dental and ambulance coverage, no limit on the mine's profiteering, and no National Broadband. Things won't get any worse - I doubt Abbott can actually crash the economy or start a couple of wars like Bush did - but they won't get any better.

The real test comes later, when we see if the right-ward drift continues. I can only hope that by then America is well on the path to sanity, and Australia gets turned in the right direction again.

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