Dispatch from Oz


About a month ago intrepid correspondent Brett McS, reporting then- live from my Emergency Back-up Country (which is looking better and better BTW), sent me this interesting election result from Western Australia, which he describes as sort of Oz's Texas: three times the size of the Lone Star state, dynamic, growing economy, with a bit of a "wild West" flavor.  I think he wanted to cheer me up with a bit of optimistic news.

He notes:
I like the direction of the Green vote.
 Yes, that is interesting. I asked him what accounts for that and here's his speculation. Essentially the Labor party has drifted Leftward -- too Leftward as it turns out, leaving an opening for conservative politicians.

Labor has crept leftwards over the years under the influence of Chardonnay Socialists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chardonnay_socialist), only accelerated by the rise of the former (?) Marxist who is our current PM. (Sound familiar?)  That accounts for Labor’s disastrous alliance with The Greens, which they are scrambling away from unconvincingly as we speak.  The traditional Labor voters are working class people who have no time for enviro-weenies, so they have been left without a home.  That’s where the Conservatives under John Howard, and now Tony Abbott, have stepped up to provide an option.

And the secret to Abbott's success? The common touch (among other things of course):

The Howards and Abbotts spend a lot of time on Talk Radio where they find out what are the concerns of typical Aussies – often presented quite bluntly, even to a  serving Prime Minister.  (Gillard’s recent attempt at Connecting With The People, on the other hand, was hilariously inept and great Tim Blair fodder.  Shades of Obama there, I would think).

...Being interesting, humble, willing to listen, handling often hostile questions without being evasive or going into Lecture Mode or filibustering...  I could imagine Scott Walker being successful (he strikes me as an American John Howard).  Ted Cruz would be a ratings magnet.  John McCain, not so much.
So, the Australian conservative’s recent success has been due to keeping in touch with the concerns of what would be, predominantly, the “white working class” demographic... in your country.  As far as I can tell that demographic has been largely ignored by Wall Street Republicans (and tragi-comically so by David Cameron’s Tories in the UK).

This is the GOP's weakness -- not that its ideas are inherently bad, but it has no idea how to connect with workers -- the kind of person who doesn't think of himself as an entrepreneur.