December 08, 2007

Liberal Lessons

The dust has settled and the historic winds of change have swept across Australia. In the face of overwhelming popular opinion we have left behind the relentless arrogance of the conservatives in favour of something a little more kinder.

Just how kind is yet to be seen, but the most interesting development in the post-Howard era is not the collapse of the Liberal Party - that was entirely predictable - but the pathetic gum-flapping and denial about why they lost so badly.

The equation is very simple. If you accept that Howard was never a popular leader, but was never opposed by a serious alternative, then the result in November makes a lot of sense. If you cling to the rosy belief that he was a great man and loved by all the people then the debate becomes a farce. The real losers in this conservative blind-spot are the people of Australia.

We don't need ten more years of puerile name calling in our parliament, grubby factions sleazing over remnants of power, or false debates along ideological lines. We need some respect to be demonstrated by our leaders on both sides of politics, we need government for the people and in the interests of the country and we need informed discussion that explores opinion instead of party lines.

So far the new look Liberal Party is stacking up to give minor lip-service to a few obvious policy blunders, but inherently has not changed its spots. They still blame the unions and their TV advertisements for the election loss. They still call the Labor Party a bunch of thugs and they still resort to name calling instead of just answering questions on policy.

Perhaps the most poignant words this week have come from Paul Krugman, a columnist and author who has written much about the decline of values in the democratic process in America. The reflections into our own political problems are worth pondering. At what point did the conservative agenda become taken over by the interests of so few and leave behind the middle-class? At what point do we as a people wake up and start challenging the bullshit our political leaders are feeding us?

Listen to his speech on Radio National

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