One of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite riddles goes like this:
Question: ‘How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg?’
Explanation: Calling a tail a leg, does not make it a leg.
Nice one, Abe.
Applying Lincoln’s riddle to the recent Victorian election, the one glaring lesson for the Liberal Party is that you can’t call yourself a ‘a party of freedom, personal responsibility, self-reliance, free speech, lower taxes, the rule of law, property rights, free markets and smaller government,’ and then campaign promising the complete opposite of those things and expect to be taken seriously.
Being authentic is still a valuable commodity in politics.
As for the minor parties who, by and large, do genuinely believe in ‘family, faith and freedom’, some hard-headed decision-making might be in order.
Like the art of war, politics is about three things – strategy, tactics and operations. Strategy is the big picture (policy) destination, tactics is about local smarts (candidates, polling, preference arrangements) and operations is the day-to-day mechanics of running a political party and an election campaign. For minor parties, all three are essential – particularly preference arrangements where group voting tickets still exist, as in Victoria.
Using interstate preference agreements, I was elected to the Senate twice – in 2013 and 2016 – despite having a lower primary vote than some other minor parties. Even at the recent 2022 Federal election, I was the Liberal Party’s first preference after the Liberal and National Party candidates. I wasn’t elected, but having the resources of a major party handing out how-to-vote cards with your name featured in such a prominent preference position is invaluable.
If the right-of-centre minor parties are to counter the left-of-centre minor parties and pseudo-independents, they need to work more closely together. They could, for example, agree to each party being assigned a state or region, with all the other parties agreeing to sacrifice their local chances to ensure, depending on their level of the primary vote, that one or two prizes for each party are achieved.
As for reforming the major parties from within, I do not share the view espoused by the few conservatives left in the Liberal Party that the answer is for more conservatives to join the Party. Reforming from within is flawed for the simple reason that it contradicts basic human nature – the immutable law of self-interest.
How many MPs do you think would be prepared to withstand the threats to their seat from activist lefties? The answer is ‘very few’.
Once elected, MPs get captured. They like being Members of Parliament and they like being liked. They also like the socialising; they don’t want to be ostracised or booed on the ABC for making a stand or championing a cause – especially a moral cause like abortion or euthanasia or transgenderism or challenging the climate change/renewable energy orthodoxy.
In other words, I would argue it is not possible to ‘break-through’, you have to ‘break-with’, and force the major parties’ hands through the brutal reality of balance-of-power politics.
In his very timely book, Democracy in a Divided Australia, Matthew Lesh writes:
‘Australia has a new political, cultural, and economic elite. The class divides of yesteryear have been replaced by new divisions between Inners and Outers. This divide is ripping apart our political parties, national debate, and social fabric.
Inners are highly educated inner-city progressive cosmopolitans who value change, diversity, and self-actualisation. Inners, despite being a minority, dominate politics on both sides, the bureaucracy, universities, civil society, corporates, and the media. They have created a society ruled by educated elites – that is, ruled by themselves.
Outers are the instinctive traditionalists who value stability, safety, and unity. Outers are politically, culturally, and economically marginalised in today’s graduate-dominated knowledge society era. Their voice is muzzled in public debate, driving disillusionment with the major parties, and record levels of frustration, disengagement, and pessimism.’
Jordan Peterson said recently that we have allowed the left to ‘forget its original goal of supporting the poor’, who are paying the most in what he described as the ‘completely fabricated energy crisis in Europe’ caused by the region’s heavy dependence on unreliable renewables.
‘Hiking the price of basic commodities like energy will precipitously knock a large number of people who are hanging on to the edge of the world with their fingernails into the pit. And that’s exactly what’s happened in Europe.
This is something for conservatives to beat the drum about. You want to serve the poor? It’s very straightforward – make energy as cheap as you possibly can. Why? Because energy is work and work is productivity and productivity raises people out of poverty, and we’ve been very good at raising people out of poverty.’
Personally, I would argue the left’s goal was never about ‘supporting the poor’, but rather using the poor to gain power. The poor have long since been abandoned by the left who have now found other ways to gain power – like racial division, Covid-19, and climate change (and its bagman renewable energy).
Will it take a catastrophe to bring voters to their senses?
In the meantime, here at the Australian Family Party we continue to refine our own ‘strategy, tactics and operations’.
In closing, it has been a very eventful year with the party contesting both State and Federal elections. Thank you for your support throughout the year, particularly our candidates, volunteers and donors. I look forward to continuing the battle in 2023.
Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year to everyone.
And thank you again.