John Howard, in front of a corporate audience at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia lunch in Sydney last Friday, has identified why Donald Trump won the US presidency! Now, you have to remember that he was talking to a bunch of wealthy business suits, so he wouldn’t want to upset the applecart and explain what was really happening. If he did, the future of his $10,000-$15,000 speaking fees might be at risk.
He stated that there were “two things that were critical to Trump’s success that I personally identify with very strongly… an avalanche of political correctness… and what I would call identity politics”*. As Kelsey Munro (Sydney Morning Herald) stated, there was nothing about rust-belt unemployment, stagnating wages, disparity between rich and poor, fake news, xenophobia or sexism. He said nothing at all about that. Howard, in addition to ignoring these factors, probably has no understanding of the root cause of some of them. Many of these problems stem from the failed ‘trickle-down’ economics that the Republicans and the Democrats have imposed on all Americans for the last 36 years. This malaise has also infected Australia, with its most obvious and enthusiastic cheerleaders being the Liberal Party.
To say Howard’s analysis is bizarre, is an understatement, but Howard has never been one to have an affinity or even a close relationship with reality. It was he who presided over the mining boom and what did he do with the extra revenue? He frittered it away on tax cuts for the wealthy and their corporations, and these tax cuts are now costing the budget bottom line about $30 billion per annum and the budget deficit is now about $40 billion. This gift to Corporate Australia was referred to as profligate by the International Monetary Fund, but Howard had some elections to buy and had to launder some taxpayer funds through his donors’ coffers. Ironically, one of Howard’s greatest sycophants, Tony Abbott, had his prime ministership buggered in part by this structural budget problem, as well as by his own stupendous incompetence.
Howard, himself, was a beacon for identity politics, using the dog whistle at every opportunity and demonising everyone from aboriginals, homosexuals, asylum-seekers, those who actually understood science, and those familiar with history. Two of the enduring, and disgusting epithets of his making were: the ‘black armband’ view of history and the ‘politics of envy’. With regard to the former, Howard preferred what was called at the time, the ‘white blindfold’ view, while with the latter, the ‘politics of envy’ was just a way of blaming the poor and middle classes for what was actually the ‘politics of greed’ by the wealthy.
As well as being small in stature, Howard is a very limited man, in intellect and purview, with a limited understanding of the world, and a bigoted outlook from his regressive citadel.
*Identity politics: is a rejection of broad-based political parties and people forming alliances based on particular religions, race or social background.