By Andrew Bolt ~
Background from TonyfromOz:
As you read this, be aware of the difference in political party names here. In Australia, The Liberal Party is the major political party on the Conservative side of that political divide, and the Labor Party is the party on the left side of that political divide. The other minor party on the Conservative side of politics in Australia is The Nationals. The Liberal Party represents mainly those conservatives in urban areas, while The Nationals represent conservatives in regional and rural areas, mainly the farming and grazing communities in those areas.
When we had just two choices -Labor or Liberal – it was fine for each party to simply argue that they weren’t as bad as the other. But now we’ve got other options and this “lesser evil” strategy doesn’t work.
Example: the Liberals arguing that at least their useless wind power policies aren’t as bad as Labor’s.
That’s the argument that Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg used on my show last night to defend the Liberals’ renewable energy target.
As I pointed out to him, that 23 per cent target – to be achieved by 2020 – will force us to use 50 per cent more wind, solar and hydro power over just three years, causing huge expense. Worse: it will make not the slightest measurable difference to global temperatures – which is the whole point of this effort. it will be all pain for zero gain.
Frydenberg could not deny any of what I said and, to his credit, did not try, His argument was instead that Labor’s policy was much worse, which indeed it is. Labor promises to force us to triple the amount of renewable electricity we use by 2030, to reach a renewable energy target of 50 per cent. And we must do this without building another dam. Sheer madness. Ruinous.
Frydenberg is exactly right there. Labor’s policy is infinitely worse than the Liberals’.
But the Liberals’ policy is also irrational, expensive and totally useless.
That is fine if the choice is between just Labor and the Liberal. Then we must indeed choose the lesser evil.
But now we have other choices – parties that do indeed challenge this nonsense. There’s One Nation, the Liberal Democrats and now Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives.
These same calculations apply when we look at other Liberal policies.
Take the Liberals’ stand on free speech. Many Liberal MPs now finally accept that perhaps the Racial Discrimination Act is an oppressive weapon to stifle debate and punish critics of the new racism. But even the reformers want no more than marginal and largely cosmetic changes – to remove the ability under the RDA to sue someone for merely offending and insulting them on racial grounds, but leave intact the right to sue for intimidation and humiliation. The problem: intimidation and humiliation are definitions which any creative judge can expand to include any merely rude or offensive comment.
That would again leave the Liberals with a policy on free speech that is bad and which can be defended only as the lesser evil, compared to Labor’s. Yes, Labor’s is indeed worse, but – again – that of the Liberal Democrats, One Nation and the Australian Conservatives is better. Once more, the lesser evil argument does not work.
The Liberals will argue that theirs is the middle way, and it cannot afford to go to the “extremes” – although what’s so extreme about defending free speech and rejecting nonsense policies that just made electricity too expensive for the poor?
True: the Liberals must always take care to appeal to a broad constituency rather than a small and committed. But the more it is seen as merely the “lesser evil”, the more that many voters will look for alternatives which offer not a lesser evil but a more perfect good.
The Liberals may say, fine, the preferences of most of those voters will come back to them, limiting the damage. But over time the Liberals will seem increasingly to stand for little. They will also be less able to govern as minor parties crowd the Senate and flex their power by saying no to legislation. (No Senator gets noticed by simply saying yes.)
Enough of this and the Liberals will seem too weak and clueless for anyone to support. They will lose not just their soul but their strength, just as Labor has by letting the Greens pose as their better selves, more pure.
The Liberals must adjust because the times have changed. Just being the “lesser evil” no longer works. It is too last-century. Too pre-Hanson.
This is why there is this demand from so many Liberals for Turnbull to be more “conservative”. This demand isn’t exactly ideological. It is driven more by an awareness that voters no longer have to put up with near-enough when there are other parties promising something much closer to what they really want.
The “lesser evil” model is broken. The Liberals must offer more, but the frantic attacks now on Labor and Bill Shorten suggest they still can’t make that leap. Those attacks are merely attempts to make Labor seem worse, not the Liberals seem perfect.
That is the “lesser evil” paradigm at work. Time to change.
Remaining Coalition voters will need to face whether their primary loyalties are to principles or party. For a growing number of voters, the notion that the Coalition can get by, can still garner their votes, by presenting itself as no better than the lesser evil no longer cuts it. As the perceived gap between traditional party allegiance and principles widens, the opportunities for Bernardi and the likeminded can only grow.
Andrew Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and The Advertiser and runs Australia’s most-read political blog. On week nights he hosts The Bolt Report on Sky News at 7pm and his Macquarie Radio show at 8pm with Steve Price.