With all the social media storms going on at present over the amazingly incompetent, corrupt Trump administration, there are enormous numbers of memes flying all over the planet, but one from ATTN: struck a chord today. It states:
“Every time there is a major decision on an issue, the news reports go something like, “The Democrats scored a major political victory today” or “The Republicans soundly defeated the Democrats today”. Well, screw the Democrats and Republicans – the real question that needs to be asked when the dust settles each and every time is “Did the American people win or lose today?”
That is what politics in western democracies has become, just a game of who can ‘win’ a vote in parliament or who can ‘win’ an election. It is not about governing the country now, and political parties are completely unconcerned with what will benefit the populace. All they are concerned about is who can make the other look bad, just by trying to embarrass them, because of some perceived shortcoming, gaffe or prejudice. It has got to a point now where that is all they seem to do.
The causes of this in Australia, I believe, are manifold and interrelated, but I will attempt to explain them separately. The first of these is what amounts to the last hurrah of the religious right wing nut jobs, who know they are fighting a losing battle against the widespread rejection of religion, yet cannot contemplate anything like a progressive social agenda and will lie, cheat, and blackmail to prevent it, just like all good christians do. This tends to make them more aggressive and strident in their actions and speech.
The second is perhaps the last hurrah of the failed trickle-down economics. It has been shown to favour the rich over the working and middle classes, and the latter classes of taxpayers will not take it any more. The ignorance of some politicians, very few of whom have degrees in economics, coupled with the prevailing ethos of economics of the last 35 years, when those that have degrees were taught it, has led them to believe it is not something against which you can argue. It is simply an article of faith. It is perhaps exhibited most egregiously by the proposed $50 billion tax cut for businesses, at the same time as those on welfare of a couple of hundred dollars a week are having their benefits cut.
The third is the corrosive effect of corporate donations to political parties. Because the corporate class comprises those who have benefited most from trickle down economics, they believe it is in their interest to have this system continue. However, if this system does continue and the disparity between rich and poor continues to grow, there will be major disruption and perhaps large scale violence.
The fourth is the fury of the working and middle classes at being left behind by trickle down economics. Over the last decade, they have seen their wages stagnate, while the large companies that employ some of them are making massive and sometimes record profits, and their CEOs and senior management are having salary packages in the millions of dollars. These companies and their senior management are also easily able to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, while your average employee pays the regulation amount. These poorer taxpayers know that it doesn’t matter who ‘wins’ the next election, as both major parties will continue to screw them because they are dependent on the corporate dollar to mount a viable election campaign.
The fifth is the discipline forced on the members of a political party by its organisational wing. If a person gets elected under the auspices of a political party, they take their seat in parliament and give their maiden speech. This speech is usually full of motherhood statements, and they rave on about how it is an honour to serve the Australian people, and they do it because they have a certain set of values, and they want to see Australia be the best it can be. Then they just sit down with all the other drones and do what they are told. They do not serve the people as a whole, only their wealthy donors, thereby making Australia a lesser place, in direct contravention of the views they expressed in their maiden speech. For, if the parliamentarian dares to express a contrary opinion to that of the party hierarchy, let alone cross the floor and vote against the majority of their party, they put at serious risk their pre-selection for the next election. This may cause them to lose their $200,000+ salary and assorted allowances as well as their post parliament pension.
All these factors are driving people away from the major parties and into the arms of minor parties and independents, and will continue to do so until someone comes along who has enough courage to change the system and make it work for all Australians, not just the wealthy.