At “The Sydney Morning Herald”, the former race discrimination commissioner Tim Sensitive-About-His-Name sings the praises of one of the new leaders of the opposition to “Orange Man Bad”, “She Guevara” Alexandra Occasional-Cortex and her style:
This is the classic expression of millennial progressivism: a politics that combines passionate advocacy, quick wit and personable authenticity. Many find it a welcome antidote to Trumpian populism.
Personable authenticity must be a new euphemism for general ignorance. Could we be so lucky in Australia? asks Tim:
Answer: it’s not likely. Australian politics simply doesn’t open itself up to young talents in the way the American system can, with its primary contests. To get preselected for a seat in Parliament, you need to first join a political party, do your time, and keep powerbrokers on side. It’s the kind of game that turns off many capable people who might otherwise consider running for office.
And it’s one reason why we have such a narrow professionalisation of politics. Parliamentary ranks are dominated by insiders who live off politics, as much as they live for it. Many enter Parliament already compromised, rather than armed with conviction.
It has perhaps always been this way. But there’s no question our democracy can do with a new injection of diversity and energy. Our political system periodically needs to be shaken up.
This is because social progress rarely happens because elites and the powerful can be counted upon to act in an enlightened way. Reforms are usually only achieved when those affected by injustice agitate for change. It’s no accident that the Trump presidency, with its aggressive sexism and racism – and clear anti-democratic tendencies – has prompted many American millennials from minority backgrounds to enter politics.
The comparison with Australia is interesting. We’ve had systematic failure on climate change. We’ve had a divisive debate about marriage equality. We’ve been confronted with the return of race politics and rise of neo-Nazi extremism. Yet, as far as we can tell, none of this has driven many millennials, or minorities, into joining political parties because they wish to defend or improve the system.
What, then, are the prospects of a reinvigorated progressive political agenda? Are we likely to see one with the likely election of a Shorten Labor government this year? Social democrats are asking.
Looks like somebody has missed the preselection season this election cycle. Which is tragic, because all that Australia needs are more socialists with a radical program that so enthuses Tim: “On climate change, they seek a Green New Deal, based on moving America to 100 per cent renewable energy. On economics, they call for more progressive taxation, including a 70 per cent marginal rate slug on the super-rich. The group also wants the abolition of ICE, the federal government agency that enforces Trump’s hardline immigration policies.” This is a Greens wet dream, but Tim would love Labor to be reinvigorated with this sort of a bizarre, unicorn fart policy. Since Bill Shorten actually wants to win the May election – and almost certainly will, largely by staying away from the cameras so as not to remind people of the biggest drag on Labor’s popularity – it’s just as well that the Tims of this world are not there in the ranks of his candidates, pushing the program that in its original American AOC iteration would cost almost $50 trillion over ten years. If we raise the top marginal tax rate to 50,000 per cent, I’m sure we can make the “super-rich” to pay for it all.
Alas, we’ll have to wait a bit longer yet to see Tim Sout-Phom-Masane in our parliament. Labor’s union and factional overlords will need to be won over to the idea of a millennial minority socialist tsunami tearing through their fiefdoms. Maybe Tim can dance for them.