Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 30, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MELTDOWN DOWN UNDER....As you all know, Labor won last week's election in Australia, primarily on promises to ratify Kyoto and pull out of Iraq. But it turns out the Liberal (i.e., pro-business right) Party didn't just go down to defeat. "Instead," writes John Quiggin, "there has been a meltdown of spectacular proportions on the losing side." More about the happy news here. With any luck, perhaps we can hope for the same performance next year from our own pro-business right party?

Kevin Drum 11:39 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Lets just hope and pray that Pauline Hanson, and One Nation, goes away too (Maybe she already is gone, but she was about to make a political comeback when I was leaving Australia). Yes, she was an extremist, but it seems like the Howard government was successful because it co-opted many of her ideas.

Posted by: adlsad on November 30, 2007 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, even if our pro-business right party starts to fade out, we still have the pro-business "left" party to contend with, e.g., Joe Biden D-Mastercard.

Posted by: phleabo on November 30, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

With any luck, perhaps we can hope for the same performance next year from our own pro-business right party?

If this was to happen, then it would be the Democrats who would be losing in a landslide because the Democratic Party is the party of the rich, while the Republicans are the party of the poor and middle class. This was exposed in a report done by the researchers at the Heritage Foundation.

washingtontimes.com/article/20071123/NATION/111230087/1001

"Democrats like to define themselves as the party of poor and middle-income Americans, but a new study says they now represent the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional districts."
"In a state-by-state, district-by-district comparison of wealth concentrations based on Internal Revenue Service income data, Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, found that the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional jurisdictions were represented by Democrats."

Posted by: Al on November 30, 2007 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone in Australia is voting to ratify Kyoto because the place is running out of water. Almost every city has instituted water-use restrictions in the past year, and some have been operating with stringent limits on water use for three years with no end in sight. Global warming is real when the decades-long drought sets in.

Wonder how Georgia's going to be voting when everyone finally open the water taps in Atlanta and nothing comes out?

Posted by: Diana on November 30, 2007 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Priceless, Al, citing reports from the Moonie Times and the Heretic Foundation.

Just phoning it in today?

Posted by: JeffII on November 30, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

What "Al" conveniently omits is the fact that it all balances out to where R's have a higher median constituent income because Dems also represent the poorest congressional districts.

The only reason the R's managed to pull off the bit of statistical gymnastics they dis is because of districts like the MO 06 and 07, where poor people voted against their economic interests for socially conservative reasons - until their votes bit them in the ass a la SCHIP.

Nice try tho, "Al" - the "Al's" who have dropped by the last couple of days were extremely lame.

Posted by: Volatile Compound on November 30, 2007 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to feed the troll, but... Al's claim is nonsense. That Heritage report was founded on ecological inferences that don't stand up to close scrutiny. Andrew Gelman explained what was going on months ago, and if Heritage was an actual research institution -- rather than just a press-release mill -- they never would've issued that report.

Posted by: Matt Stevens on November 30, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

adlsad: "Lets just hope and pray that Pauline Hanson, and One Nation, goes away too."

To be honest, I've never heard of her, although I do remember hearing about a lot of right-wing isolationist / rcist agitation down under.

Is Ms. Hanson Australia's answer to our Pentagon's resident right-wing crackpot, Laurie Milroy, who co-authored Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War with America with then-New York Times correspondent Judith Miller?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago on November 30, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK
With any luck, perhaps we can hope for the same performance next year from our own pro-business right party?

Both major US parties are, by the standards of any other industrialized democracy, parties of the "pro-business right", so you appear to be cheering from a stunning upset by, e.g., the Green Party.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 30, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Labor won last week's election in Australia, primarily on promises to ratify Kyoto and pull out of Iraq

Primarily on promises to abolish the employee-hostile "Work Choices" and ratify Kyoto, secondarily to withdraw combat troops -- but not non-combat troops, Navy, or Air Force -- from Iraq.

Posted by: rmd on November 30, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: "Both major US parties are, by the standards of any other industrialized democracy, parties of the "pro-business right" ..."

All too true, but the Democratic Party is the party of a "kinder and gentler" neo-fascist corporate feudalism, a difference that ... well, it's not nothing.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 30, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Its a common mistake to call the GOP a pro-business party. The GOP is actually pro-large corporation. There is a distinct difference. Signficant economic growth often occurs when whole new industries arise. Those new industries typically substitute may often provided substitutes for existing good and services (e.g. automobiles replacing horses).

The GOP sees its role as maintaining the status quo for existing corporations even at the expense of economic growth. The Democratic party on the other hand seeks to encourage economic growth, while recognizing some new industries may replace old ones. It is partly because of this fundamental difference that economic growth is always greater under Democratic presidents and congresses than under Republican ones.

Posted by: rk on November 30, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

What "Al" conveniently omits is the fact that it all balances out to where R's have a higher median constituent income because Dems also represent the poorest congressional districts. Posted by: Volatile Compound

It isn't the income disparity so much that shows the differences between who supports which end of the political spectrum in the U.S., it's education. It's a fact that Democrats, and liberals in particular, who are much better educated. The CNN Republican "debate" the other night made this painful clear. Those who support the Rethugs are, on the whole, overly religious and none too bright, which typically go hand-in-hand.

Posted by: JeffII on November 30, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party - champions of croney capitalism.

Posted by: fafner1 on November 30, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Should the American pro-business right melt down, the takeover of the Republican Party by folks like these will become complete.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on November 30, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

The coolest thing about the whole Australian election is the fact that Peter Garrett, lead singer for Midnight Oil, is now a minister in the new government. How sweet is that?

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on November 30, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I think JeffII hit the nail on the head.These righties seem to live by what the good book means to them as told to them by someone else.ie Oral Roberts and the likes.They really don't seem to live life by there smarts.ie Coulter,Malkin and the likes.I don't mean that as an insult it just is what it is.

Posted by: john john on November 30, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Pointless to read the responses to "Al," since it's obviously a parody troll.

Where, oh where has the real "Al" gone?

Posted by: Joey Giraud on November 30, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

If you are not very familiar with the Australian political scene, and you read something by Quiggin and then beleive that you are more informed about what's happening there, well, you are a very stupid person.

Posted by: hank on November 30, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Where, oh where has the real 'Al' gone?"

For a while, to TAPPED. Now, I mostly see him on Matthew Yglesias' blog. Even there, though, he's running into fake Al competition for his nuttiness.

Posted by: PaulB on November 30, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

With any luck, perhaps we can hope for the same performance next year from our own pro-business right party?

Yeah, but if the US had a pro-business party that didn't oppose universal health care and science, I might give them a look.

American Republicans are rather different than conservatives of other democratic post-industrial countries.

Posted by: Measure for Measure on November 30, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Donald from Hawaii,

Pauline Hanson is a former fish and chip shop owner from Queensland, who became a politician, and became the founder of the One Nation Party. One Nation was essentially a populist, xenophobic anti-immigrant and anti-reconciliation (with Australian Aboriginals) party. It was sort of popular in the late 1990's in response to native title and an increase in immigrants from SE Asia. Think of Tom Tancredo with cheap makeup and high heels.

Also, it is speculated that John Howard borrowed some of the One Nation rhetoric to win the 1998 National election.

She also appeared on Australia's version of Dancing with the Stars...

Posted by: adlsad on November 30, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK
It's a fact that Democrats, and liberals in particular, who are much better educated.

IIRC, its not that simple. Its something like people without 4-year college degrees are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans, people with 4-year degrees are more likely to be Republicans, but people with graduate degrees are more likely to be Democrats.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 30, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

aldsad

Let's not underestimate Hanson's appeal.

It's not inexplicable. Her supporters are the working class who compete with directly, and live beside, the new immigrants. Hence the riots with Lebanese youth on Bondi Beach this year. They feel the pressure both on their jobs, and the pressure of cultural displacement and competition.

And also farmers. When she was popular, Australian farming was being devastated by low farm prices.

Now, Australian farming is being devastated by the drought, and inconsistent and unfair water policies. The drought and Howard's global warming denialism are major reasons why Howard lost so badly: Australians are dead scared of climate change, and Howard set himself up as a sitting target by pursuing a denialist line for 10 years, and in the 11th a late convert.

But the pain a certain strata of farming and working class Australian are feeling is very real.

The analogy to the US is that broadbased political support for free trade is almost dead. The backlash against globalisation has begun.

And the backlash against immigration is far more than a few racists and right wingers. It runs much deeper and wider than that. Jared Diamond himself has questioned Australia's ecological ability to sustain ever larger populations.

The neoliberal consensus about free markets and the inevitability of globalisation is under attack all across the democratic world. It's no longer just opposition from the far left: it's reached the grassroots of the populist right (see Huckabee, Mike).

The left has swept into power in Oz on the back of the 'throw the bastards out'. If they fumble the ball, a renewed Liberal Party, led by a right wing populist, will seize power.

The same threat is emerging in the US. Look at the popularity of Rudy Giuliani, or Mike Tancredo's success at pursuing his agenda.

The lesson of Australia is the danger for all mainstream 'elite' political parties, not just for right wing parties.

Posted by: Valuethinker on December 1, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Hank's comment is very much like many of John Howard's; it deceives without lying. and this style of trickiness is one of the reasons JH was dumped by the voters. Yes, you should read Australian commentators other than John Quiggin, but on this issue, Quiggin is saying the same thing as most other commentators, even erstwhile conservative ones in the Murdoch media.

Howard put himself ahead of the Liberal Party- rather than carry through with succession planning, ie resigning at the appropriate time, he hung on until defeat was inevitable. Now in opposition, the factions in the Liberal Party have nothing to lose by going at each other's throat. On top of this, many of the ex-senior Ministers from the Coalition Government (LIberal Party and National Party for US readers) have decided that they don't love the Party enough to want to hang round for at least 3 years in opposition- understandable, 'cos it's a big comedown after 11 years in Government. So the Party is in organisational disarray, and the problems are compounded by a dirty tricks campaign by Liberal supporters that may have broken the Electoral Act. The fun looks set to continue for months.

Posted by: number6 on December 2, 2007 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK
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