If there’s one thing that 2016 has taught us, it’s that regular people have had enough of traditional party politics. Now that it looks like One Nation will take a run for Wagga in 2019, it’s worth asking how we got here in the first place.
Across the globe, people have been feeling alienated from both sides of politics. All they hear are the same, tired old slogans while the world is rapidly changing around them, often in ways that are out of line with their deeply-held beliefs.
We’ve seen it with the greyhound ban and council amalgamations. Communities protested these changes, but the reforms were foisted on them anyway, opening the door for the Shooters and Fishers to romp home in the Orange by-election.
Then there are the arguments about matters of local, national and international importance, which get shut down by cultural elitists before they begin.
It’s easy for the ‘progressives’ to look at Pauline Hanson and shout her down as being a racist without hearing what she has to say. That was all too clear when the Greens walked out on Ms Hanson’s Senate speech. Facebook ‘slacktivists’ declared she was racist without listening to her speech and scores of intellectual featherweights believed it.
By feeding a closed-shop of ideas to an entitled generation that’s easily offended we got a large group of voters that aren’t prepared to consider any point of view different from their own. Couple that with technology that allows everyone with internet access to mindlessly bleat as loud as everyone else and you get a breeding ground for a politics of slogans over substance.
In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln described “a government of the people, by the people, for the people”. But what happens when “the people” feel disconnected, abandoned and ignored? People who are sick of being labelled “racist” because they’re concerned about radical Islam and tired of being labelled “bigots” because they’re not convinced same-sex marriage should be a thing.
They’re not allowed to voice their opinions publicly, but they still get to vote privately and it’s something that should have career politicians shaking in their boots.
It’s not too late for mainstream political parties to engage with their base, come up with new ideas and create a vision for tomorrow. They need to because if not we’ll get the loudest, not the best and brightest, leading us up the garden path tomorrow.