Modern political ideology
The growing number of working poor seem to be turning their backs on the parties they traditionally support. The working class and the middle class have traditionally been supporters of the left. Fighting for equality, healthcare, education and government support in a society that praises capitalism and the exploitation of one another. Many political thinkers put the GFC as the cause of the current political scramble, others say 9/11 and some have no clue what is happening. Needless to say a lot has changed over the years and there is a lot of uncertainty ahead. The political philosophies of the 20th century created much needed debate about wealth distribution, economic growth and social issues. The departure from traditional ideologies is most certainly a consequence of prolonged prosperity, political ineptitude, uncertainty about the future and a whole range of events and issues. There isn’t a silver bullet and there is no single cause. It is the great big melting pot of variables that has led us to the current situation where the downtrodden vote for the party that is most likely to exploit them. The far right, the populist, the protectionist, the nationalist has become the haven for the people doing it tough — why??
This article explores political ideology from Lincoln to Trump but it begins with the catalyst for my thought process. For me it was Tuesday night at 7.30pm. I had dinner early, got a cup of tea and turned the TV on. Budget night. Treasurer Scott Morrison of the federal government of Australia was to announce the budget. In Australia this is one of the holiest of nights in the political and economic world. It sets the tone for the next few years and puts the governments agenda on the table. Australia has a Prime Minister that Bloomberg says is echoing President Trump in a nationalist infrastructure based campaign to win disaffected voters, so this budget was bound to be exciting. Then it happened.
The treasurer read out a budget from the Liberal party. A party much like the Republicans that believes in “individual freedom and free enterprise.” Which means lower taxes, a lean government, minimal government interference and the freedom to exploit others to make as much wealth as possible. The budget delivered a series of policies that include; expanding healthcare, raising taxes, a levy on the banks, a complex tax break system that requires significant government intervention, increased spending on education and spending on infrastructure. A budget that appeared to come from the left.
The liberal party obviously believe that they can garner some votes and get a bit of popularity with this type of budget. So far it hasn’t worked, and it has resulted in an ideological war between factions of the party. The true right and the conservatives are in uproar against the centrist leadership.
The recent elections in France produce similar issues. Emmanuel Macron, a unique president to come to power. It’s hard to gauge exactly what his beliefs are but it is reasonable to say he is a man of the centre and pragmatism. Democracy is often a vote for the lesser of two evils but possibly Macron has more promise as he doesn’t belong to any ideological political party.
Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, Tony Abbott, and Brexit are western examples of extremism. Slogans like Stop the Boats and Build a Wall are highlights of the protectionist thinkers. These social issues though don’t fall under the economic-political left and right concepts though. These are social issues rather than economic issues and this may be where we find our divergence begins.
David Rockefeller said that “rational people favour globalisation. Irrational people preferred nationalism.” Global politics are becoming distinctly irrational. Can you blame them for becoming irrational when the people don’t know what to believe any more.
As we look back to the Australian Liberal Party and their party platform we observe the following:
That, wherever possible, government should not compete with an efficient private sector; and that businesses and individuals — not government — are the true creators of wealth and employment.”
If you were to vote for the Liberal party based on their party platform and there constitution you would feel severely misled. The budget released taxes the private sector and increases government spending to create wealth and employment.
Examining the U.S. political parties is similarly full of contradictions. The Republicans have Lincoln. One of the greatest leaders in the history of mankind, but hardly a conservative or right wing. The Declaration of Independence and the emphasis for equality, not to mention that creation of the first U.S. Income tax in 1861 were distinctly left wing. We move along to Roosevelt and his square deal that promised to break up trusts, regulate railroads, and preserve natural resources. Once again very left wing. Then we get to Nixon, who announced wage and price controls — hardly agrees with the GOP’s beliefs that individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government.
On the flip side we have the democrats. The biggest offender of political ideology being Bill Clinton. The GOP favour free enterprise, private ownership and typically socially conservative ideas but here was President Clinton undertaking huge financial deregulation. Among the biggest pieces of his unabashed love of capitalism were the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the rewriting of the Community Reinvestment Act. All of which helped bring on the GFC.
Political apathy and the political extremism have risen by the leadership failures of the past and the growing wealth gap. The have’s VS the have nots is getting worse. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. In empirical terms the recent CPI (Consumer Price Index — Inflation) rose more than wages. Prices grew more than wages, so your wage bought you less at the supermarket today than what it did yesterday. In real terms the Australian people are getting poorer. Yet CEO’s are being paid millions. Politicians like President Macron, Prime Minister Turnbull, and President Trump are all incredibly wealthy. Two of which are former investment bankers.
Political apathy and lethargy are further exacerbated by the rise of minor political parties. Senates around the world are needing to win the support of independents to do anything. Shifting the power balance to the independents rather than the dominant political party. This is not inherently a bad thing. It is just yet another twist in the story.
Political ideology has been changing. As we look at things like vote compass we see where we as voters stand and where the political parties fall on the spectrums. Social conservatism, and social liberalism share a lot but also differ a lot. Conservatives can be of the economic left or right. Traditionally the right is the party that aligns with businesses, upper and dominant classes where as the left represents the lower economic or social classes. The debate in parliament is between the rich and the poor to find the middle ground and the best way forward.
During the french revolution of 1789 members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the right and supporters of the revolution to the left. Possibly this model is outdated.
Political ideology has gone MIA but that is because we continue to box into two sides. When really we should be considering at least three or four parties. The left, centre and right; or the conservatives, the progressives, the right and the left. Alternatively we exercise our right to vote and ensure that we as a collective vote for the right people. Remembering you don’t just vote for the leader you also vote for the members of parliament. Those members that influence and control the leader of the party. Apathetic, angry, non voting public are as much to blame for the poor quality of politics as the politicians are. They only get the job if we give it to them.
All things considered people need there voice heard and we need constructive debate with useful outcomes. Rather than the traditional two party preferred systems most democracies operate on currently we need to consider at four parties.
Globalists: free trade, movement of people and goods globally
Interventionist: government intervention for services, regulation, welfare
Progressive: new thinking, social liberalism, equality
Conservative: nationalist, traditional and minimal change