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What motivates the Parl house rallies?

Quite a bit of effort is being devoted to explaining why, from the Arab Spring to the London riots, from suddenly Eurosceptic Europeans to the Tea Party, governments everywhere are under siege.

Thomas Friedman, he of the most laughable piece on the Arab Spring in the entire Western commentariat, tried recently to manufacture a “theory of everything” to argue it was all about — sitting down? — globalisation and communications technology. The year 2000 called and wants its copy of The Lexus and the Olive Tree back, Tom.

More usefully, Reuters’s Felix Salmon has talked of a massive collapse in consent and trust in governments. Nouriel Roubini, warning of the possibility of a depression, said “recent popular demonstrations, from the Middle East to Israel to the UK, and rising popular anger in China — and soon enough in other advanced economies and emerging markets — are all driven by the same issues and tensions: growing inequality, poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness.”

It’s rather a long bow, but at some point someone may make the effort to link up the Convoy of No Confidence, the anti-carbon tax protests and efforts such as last week’s anti-gay marriage rally with this wave of worldwide discontent. There is a connection, of course, but it’s only with the Tea Party in the US, in the apeing of tactics, the cultivation and manipulation of a grassroots movement by media figures and wealthy conservatives (whether the Koch brothers or Gina Rinehart) and shared platforms of climate denialism .

But similar demographics also keep recurring with these groups, and it’s interesting to think about why. The Tea Party is characterised by middle-aged or older, conservative, white, middle- or higher-income people, more often male than female. That’s exactly the demographic for climate denialists in Australia and, judging by those who have turned up to the no-carbon tax rallies, similar to that group as well.

There’s some overlap with the demographics that characterised One Nation voters — who tended to be middle-aged (but not, despite the stereotype, old) middle-income and religious. But One Nation members tended to be poorly educated (Tea Party members are better educated than most Americans) and were primarily regional.

That’s why there’s no link with what’s happening elsewhere. It’s isn’t comfortably-off middle-aged white men breaking into Foot Locker in London.

Why the shared demographics between here and the US? What’s interesting about the Tea Party and the various rally movements that have emerged in Australia is that both have only done so since Barack Obama became president and Julia Gillard became Prime Minister. Moreover, they’ve emerged despite Australia and the US being almost polar opposites in terms of economic performance.

While the Tea Party (particularly where it overlaps with the birther movement) contains racist elements and there’s a strain of misogyny in the attacks on Gillard, I suggest these groups aren’t driven by overt racism or sexism. The participants in such groups are unlikely to be any more racist or sexist than the rest of us.

Instead, the motivating force behind these groups appears to be more about expressing resentment about social and economic change in recent decades, and particularly because such changes have delivered nothing but difficulties for the demographics we’re talking about: social change has undermined the once-dominant status of older white heteros-xual people and males in particular, and, in the Australian context, economic changes have squeezed them, along with everyone else, into a far more competitive, market-based economy that no longer delivers the sort of certainty they grew up with and that Generation X, in particular, never had.

For such people, Gillard’s gender (and unmarried status) or  Obama’s race are not so much a problem as a high-profile, indeed inescapable, symbol of how much the world has changed and changed in ways that deliver nothing but pain for such people. That’s why they elicit such fury, not because of innate s-xism or racism.

This resentment of change and sense of persecution at the hands of broader socio-economic forces perhaps explains another commonality of such groups,  here and in the US: a conviction that they are being repressed and censored. There’s plenty to be concerned about when it comes to the state of free speech in Australia. But when right-wing rallies receive massive media coverage out of all proportion to the number of attendees, the claim rings hollow.

And sure, it’s a staple of the Left that the mainstream media is biased and right-wing, and conservatives always think the media’s full of trendy left-wing journalists. But in the case of the recent rallies, it has a peculiarly personal flavour of persecution to it. And it had its most absurd expression yesterday in the sight of Alan Jones, a rich, old, white, conservative male and thus the perfect — OK, near-perfect — rally spokesman (though alas, Alan, you were only following in the tyre tracks of the truckies’ mate, John Laws), inventing a wholly fictitious claim that the AFP had stopped trucks outside the ACT. That is, the miserable numbers at the rally weren’t because people disagreed or weren’t interested, but because the federal authorities had stopped them.

This claim about “censorship” is now a regular argument of right-wing groups or commentators, and often expressed along the lines that any criticism or even inconvenient factual reporting of its claims is an abrogation of free speech — that is, the “right to free speech” is now supposed to encompass a right to be heard without any counter-argument or undesirable coverage.

Sophie Mirabella attempted this pre-emptively ahead of the rally yesterday, using News Ltd’s opinion platform to accuse “freedom of  speech-loving journalists” of trying to “find an offensive placard, to photograph someone looking unhinged” as a way to deter free expression — even of politicians themselves (who as we know lack their own platform to say whatever they like and get national coverage). Mirabella herself made the comparison with the Tea Party, claiming “the same uneasiness was revealed in the way the US media reacted to the Tea Party movement. Protest, it seems, is the preserve of the left.”

Evidently Mirabella doesn’t read too much US political coverage. The coverage of the Tea Party by the US mainstream media has been a publicist’s dream, and a critical part of its success in swaying the Republican Party’s political tactics — exhibit 1, the “Democrats are just a recalcitrant as Republicans” tone of the debt ceiling debacle.

Sometimes the demands for free speech are a cover or precursor for attacks on critics. In July, the Australian Christian Lobby withdrew from a debate on same-s-x marriage in Tasmania, insisting that one of its members had been “slurred” by the “gay rights lobby”. “For many these concepts are precious, even sacred, and people with those views should be free in this society to raise them in the public square without intimidation,” said Jim Wallace.

Last week’s anti-same-sex marriage rally at Parliament House, convened by the “National Marriage Coalition”, of which the ACL is a founding member, then featured US speaker Rebecca Hagelin who compared same-sex marriage to polygamy and “marriages” between paedophiles and children (imagine the stir if a visiting progressive had compared heteros-xual marriage to rape). And what better example than Alan Jones, angered by a straightforward and appropriate question about fees from journalist Jacqueline Maley yesterday, gallantly trying to incite the gathering against her? Perhaps Maley, being, you know, a woman, and deemed a “leftist” by one participant, was the nearest they could get to Gillard.

The trick is, these groups aren’t motivated by any particular issues, however angry they may be about a carbon price or taxes. The issues are mere tokens. It’s more about them and their resentment that the world has changed on them in ways they don’t like and don’t feel comfortable with. It’s the sense of persecution that comes from no longer occupying a privileged position in society but instead having to cope with life just like everyone else.

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  • 1
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that this article appears immediately after the lead in the newsletter in which Crumb’s accurate observation features: “One can see in this example how skilled media professionals with low standards of integrity are able to mould and manipulate public opinion, popular beliefs and, ultimately, the direction of politics. The majority of the population in most places is not alert to this kind of deceptive manipulation. They are more or less defenceless against such clever ‘perception management’.”

    The Coalition of the Credulous, addressed by the misogynist rabble rouser Alan Jones, are ripe for this kind of manipulation. I’m older than most of them, yet do not feel adversely affected by the changing times, perhaps because I have a sceptical disposition.

  • 2
    Jimmy
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s more about them and their resentment that the world has changed on them in ways they don’t like and don’t feel comfortable with”
    It seems to me that any movement towards a more socially responsible and equitable society is treated as communism by the likes of Jones, the Tea Party and the organisers of this rally.
    The American rights mantra of “everyman for themselves” seems to be prevading Australian society more and more.

  • 3
    Charles Richardson
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    But One Nation members tended to be poorly educated” - did they really? One Nation voters, yes, but I’d be less sure about members, and because of compulsory voting I don’t think you can directly compare voters here & in the US.

    The participants in such groups are unlikely to be any more racist or sexist than the rest of us.” Research suggests that’s definitely not true of the Tea Partiers, & I doubt it’s true of the convoy of no consequence either.

  • 4
    Jillian Blackall
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I also think there is a strong partisan element, hatred of the ALP & Greens, but that could be a result of the factors described here.

  • 5
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Bernard,

    These people are motivated by anger. They don’t get a hearing from their local MP, they feel the Government are not listening, despite the overwhelming feedback from various sources.

    I wrote to my local MP twice about a small business issues, and the PM and Minister and Shadows. It got the thanks for your letter response and 4 months later got a pathetic letter from Minister’s office, that did not answer the issues and looks like a standard issue letter. I must say I got a similar letter from Shadows, just saying they would raise in Parliament at the right time. Unsure if that happened.

    All you have to do is look at the polls, “leader” satisfaction and letters to editor to see Australia is in major problem. We are being laughed at by people who read widely overseas, as some of my business contacts remind me of.

    So…………no wonder there is an overwhelming call for an election.

  • 6
    Margaret Kerr
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    To be simplistic, perhaps the Alan Jones and his followers are just really, really bad losers who, not having won at the ballot or its subsequent tie break, will keep throwing tantrums until they get what they want. Too bad there isn’t a naughty corner to send them to.

  • 7
    Andrew McIntosh
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    The copying of American tactics seems right because culturally Australia has been copying everything US since the last war. It would have to be a factor, at least. It’s not just the right that are into copying overseas tactics, either. The radical left have for decades as well, although I’ve noticed more a tendency to favour British and European tactics rather than North American. Witness so-called “black blocs” at some large rallies.

    In a way, it makes sense to take note of tried and practised methods from overseas and adopt them here, rather than take the time to think and develop new ways. We’ve always identified with the larger anglo powers than anything else, including anything unique. Taking a simple political concept and swapping “Australia” for “America” is about the easiest thing to do, and has the most appeal to easy thinkers rather than anything more original.

  • 8
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Great article, Bernard, but the line about resentment of how the world has changed seems a little to easy and convenient. Maybe it is right, but I can’t think how anyone after a certain age doesn’t feel insecure at how the world has passed them by. Why this is happening now can’t just come down to the eroding of privilege. These guys are rentseekers - are they complaining about being done over by other rentseekers? i.e. the younger middle class families with an over-sized mortgage living somewhere west of sydney? I don’t know. This bears more analysis.

  • 9
    Jimmy
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Jillian - I was talking to a bloke the other day who thinks this is the worst govt in Australian history and the carbon tax is going to be terrible for Australia.
    He thought the scientists & economists didn’t know what they were talking about and said “the people are right.
    I pointed out theat weh Howard brought in the GST “the people” were against that (he actually lost the popular vote) but it turned out be be a good thing, he diagreed and stated that the GST “is killing business”. So i asked, “did you vote against for the ALP in that election then?” but he vehemently said “No, the GST was just the price you had to pay for good govt!”

    So yes you are 100% correct, these people would vote Liberal no matter what policy the liberals had (in this case one rally organiser said she wanted a govt that got back to “market based” economics while opposing Gillars carbon policy) or what policy the ALP had. It’s the old “only the liberals can manage the economy argument” despite the fact that the current liberals need to find $70b in savings just to fund promisies they have already made.

  • 10
    ralph
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    This is the same lot who argued that anyone who disagreed with John Howard was a “Howard Hater”. The supposed Howard Haters don’t hold a candle to the poisonious rantings of this lot against Julia Gillard and the Greens.

  • 11
    C@tmomma
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I called them the ‘Convoy of Grey ‘No’mads’ because that’s what I saw, wealthy self-funded retirees in their very expensive to buy and run, Winnebagos and Ovation Camper Vans, with more money than sense, it seems, and time to burn, both at home in front of their computers, where they read the daily Yellow journalism e-mail and get riled up, and out on the road, where they don’t seem to have the wit or the imagination to do any more than drive around and around Australia, ‘Spending the Kid’s Inheritance’, and listening to Alan Jones on their radios. Then they stop and bitch and carp with all the other time wasters in God’s Waiting Room on the road. I imagine them to be already Scrapbooking yesterday’s event as though it was some sort of meaningful experience in their lives and in the life of the nation, when all it really was was an old Queen(which fact they conveniently ignore because it doesn’t suit their narrow worldview, pretty much like they ignore the facts of Climate Change), proselytising to his Ray Stevens-loving(I was horrified to find he has sold his soul to the Conservatives in order to keep the flickering embers of his career alive), ‘Kings of the Road’. Absolutely pathetic spectacle, all in all. However, opportunistic Opposition Leader bereft of a soul himself(maybe that’s why God orchestrated his casting out of the Seminary?), Tony Abbott is along for the ride with the bulging, ageing baby Boomer demographic, whose votes he positively salivates over. My goodness, who said that smoking pot didn’t give you permanent brain damage? I think this lot of easily-led sheep proves conclusively that it does.

  • 12
    Jimmy
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne - “These people are motivated by anger.” True but anger by it’s nature lacks logic and rationality, so being motivated by it isn’t a good thing?

    no wonder there is an overwhelming call for an election.” - What as evidenced by a couple of hundred people protesting? Hardly overwhelming?

  • 13
    Joe Magill
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    This subject is a constant in my conversations with friends. Why is there so much anger? Is it because Gillard is a woman (and Obama is black)? Is it Abbott’s campaign? Is it the shock jocks? The bare statistics show we are ever better off. Why doesn’t the population at large believe this? And why, as Suzanne Blake does, are so many calling for an election? Where does the sense of illegitimacy come from? You can blame a government unable to sell policy but that doesn’t justify the never ending angry whinging. I just can’t understand this.

  • 14
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    With regard to Australia, the feeling of resentment is partly fuelled by missing out on office by a whisker, as well as by the humiliation of Abbott losing to Gillard during negotiations with the independents and Greens.

  • 15
    Peter Forrest
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s more about them and their resentment that the world has changed on them in ways they don’t like and don’t feel comfortable with.” - There is a scientific description for this - ‘cognitive dissonance’ . Alan Jones would not be one of them. He’s smart enough to know who butters his bread, that bunch of people out there feeling dissonanced All he has to do is keep them stirred up and he’ll continue to rake in his millions.

  • 16
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    WOW

    Someone wiped the smirk of Anthony Albanese face today. He looks very sober, deep in thought and subdued? Any ideas? So does Wayne Swan, Deborah O’Neill and the others in Parliament behind the dispatch box.

  • 17
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Craig Thomson?

  • 18
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    @ Jimmy

    You cannot be serious. Its the protest yesterday, the weeks and months before, the comments made by voters over the past 7 months…… you may represent the 27% of rusted on ALP support, but the masses of smoking issues is working like WD-40 on that….

  • 19
    Jillian Blackall
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand this big swing to the Coalition in the polls. I have always been a Coalition voter, as have some of my friends, and we are probably going to vote for the Greens this time (after the first preference to the Sex Party).

  • 20
    Jimmy
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne - There is a big difference between saying you would vote for the coalition and wanting anew election tomorrow!
    As for the protests every pro carbon tax rally has been attended by many more people than the anti carbon tax ones.

    I wonder if you could name one policy of Abbott’s you support and explain why?

  • 21
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know - but with neither Obama nor Gillard being a “white man” - it does seem to make it a lot easier to protest?
    As well as that “born to rule” mentality?

  • 22
    Malcolm Street
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    These people are motivated by anger. They don’t get a hearing from their local MP, they feel the Government are not listening…

    I wrote to my local MP twice about a small business issues, and the PM and Minister and Shadows. It got the thanks for your letter response and 4 months later got a pathetic letter from Minister’s office, that did not answer the issues and looks like a standard issue letter. I must say I got a similar letter from Shadows, just saying they would raise in Parliament at the right time. “

    I see, the Opposition is just as hopeless, which justifies anger at the government?

    All you have to do is look at the polls, “leader” satisfaction and letters to editor to see Australia is in major problem. We are being laughed at by people who read widely overseas, as some of my business contacts remind me of.”

    All I see is some extraordinary whinging and scare-mongering in a country which has weathered the GFC better than just about any other developed nation. I read widely in overseas media and believe me, in comparison we are doing very, very well.

  • 23
    Ruprecht
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Diddums on not getting letters answered by MPs.

    Over 1 million Australians marched peacefully in protest against the Iraq War and we were not only ignored but insulted. The government of the day called us an unrepresentative mob, rent-a-crowd, and the Murdoch press called us Howard Haters.

  • 24
    Jimmy
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Malcolm - ” I read widely in overseas media” Then you would also be aware of the fact that most foreign political journalists can not believe the Australian meddia obsession with “polls” to the point where policies are largely ignored. That is one of our biggest problems.

  • 25
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    @ Jillian Blackall

    after the first preference to the Sex Party”

    when all else fails!!

  • 26
    GocomSys
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    @Joe Magill posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Re.: The never ending angry whinging!

    The easy going, open-minded, friendly self-deprecating Aussie with a larrikan attitude is hard to find these days. After over a decade of systematic political dumbing down we ended up with a majority of the public confused, disillusioned, disaffected, discontented and disconnected. What could make the situation even worse is that there is now a real danger that someone “unhinged” get’s his hand on the tiller. Too scary to contemplate!

  • 27
    Jillian Blackall
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    @ Suzanne

    The Sex Party is the ideal alternative. It has something for everyone.

  • 28
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    @ Jillian Blackall

    Can’t argue with that. Welcome to the board, even the numbers up a bit.

  • 29
    GocomSys
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    @Suzie
    I would find your “muddled” logic quite amusing if it weren’t the very sign of the underlying syndrome I described in my previous post. Sorry, I just realised you probably wouldn’t be able to understand what I am talking about. Yep, you proved my point!

  • 30
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    @ GocomSys

    The clowns on the tiller now, can’t be worse than any clowns on the tiller in the next Parliament.

    This Parliament is ‘unhinged’ from reality and from the vast majority of the electorate. Even for a doubling of the statistical margin of error, the POLLS indicate this. So do the ‘whingers’ as you call them.

    Some ‘whingers’ are not as rusted on as you may be. Some ‘whingers’ may be at the fringe, but I would guess that 95% are not.

  • 31
    Jimmy
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne - “The clowns on the tiller now, can’t be worse than any clowns on the tiller in the next Parliament. ” This is an argument for keeping things the same not change, or did you get things backwards again?

    And even if I did reverse the tense’s it is hardly a compelling case for calling an immediate election? If as you say (or at least I think intended to say) the reason for change is only libs “can’t be any worse” it doesn’t mean they will be any better so why the need for an election now?

    I will also reissue my challenge for you to name one coaltion policy you agree with and the reasons why?

  • 32
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    @ Jimmy

    I agree with their Agriculture policy and in particular the policy to dramatically increase Australia’s ability to produce food (all types) and related commodoties (eg wool)

    I agree as I have stated on this Board 20 or more times, Australia’s competitive advantage in future years will be to sell our food production to overseas markets (and own own of course). The more we grow, the better off we will be.

  • 33
    Oscar Jones
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne Blake : So…………no wonder there is an overwhelming call for an election.

    I’m so sick of this type of dishonesty. No-one need like the results but please tell the truth. Where is the proof for an “overwhelming call for an election “?

    There are small pockets of rabble rousing protestors (in the hundreds only) and the Coalition. That is not “overwhelming. The millions of Australian voters are silent and going about their lives.

    Likewise the Coalition’s ( and Gina Rinehart’s ) dishonest claim of a minority government. It’s simply not true. There is a coalition of Labor and Independents with a majority voting power and a Coalition of Liberal and Nats in Opposition.

  • 34
    Scott
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    The only reason the right are protesting more is that the left (Rudd/Gillard, Obama) are in power. When the right was in power (Bush, Howard), it was the left that was protesting more.

    The level and orientation of protest just boils down to who has the power and who wants it.

  • 35
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I’m tired of the continuous claim that this government is illegitimate. I fail to see how it would have been more legitimate if the Coalition had struck a deal with the Independents.

    We have a government that for all its faults is doing the job for which it was elected. It should be allowed to govern for as much of its term as circumstances allow, and not be brought down by some local version of a recall election.

  • 36
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    @Scott, in recent times the level of protest has been much higher when the Right is out of office.

  • 37
    Jimmy
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne - Is that the policy to increase funding to R&D by $150m? Wow throw out this govt now then and install a new the coalition because they’ll give farming groups an extra $150m for research in a $100b sector.

    Is the ALP against us growing our own food?

  • 38
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Interesting article Bernard…

    Not sure about the “theory of everything” or the direct comparisons between the Tea Party and the local tea baggers however.

    Worth bearing in mind that comparisons between a relatively uneducated Australian and a well-educated American are rather tendentious… there are so darn few of them.

    Certainly the organisations and individuals throwing their “weight” behind the Convoy of Inconsequence seem to draw their inspiration from the Tea Party. But the US mob actually purport to be reclaiming the US constitution and small “l” libertarian free enterprise. The tea baggers are far more a coalition of the really really annoyed. This was particularly evident when tea baggers were asked what they wanted … they all had a shopping list of complaints but - in the end - all they could come up with was the “abolition” of the Upper and Lower House and a new election.

    Observers of the political fringes may be interested in this piece from a WA commentator:
    http://exiledonline.com/teabagger-dundee-america-exports-libertarian-revolution-to-australia/comment-page-1/#comment-36066

    While there is a Ma and Pa Kettle element to all this, there are however some nasty characters lurking about in the shadows … one is Canadian “civil libertarian” “feminist” turned professional climate campaigner Jo Nova. Very interesting background that lady.

    Personally I find it most comforting that despite all their efforts - and even the presence of the great motivator himself Alan Jones - the show was a fizzer. I take it as evidence of the deep underlying commonsense of the Australian electorate. We know these problems are serious, are real and they won’t just go away by us all going for a drive.

  • 39
    Rodney Jarman
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    If I understand Bernard’s premise he’s saying these rallies are disaffected groups of people with no consistent ties but their inability to deal with change and certainty.

    Having recently returned from the States my theory is there has been a fundamental breach of the social contract between the general populace and the powerful, be they business or politicians.

    People have worked hard, paid for college educations, been law abiding, good citizens and generally done the right thing. Now, they find themselves without jobs or prospects, in jobs that don’t over the costs like they are used to. They can’t afford decent education, health care, holidays or whatever. They find themselves working harder and harder and just treading water.

    They don’t understand the complexities of why, they just know this is not the deal they signed up for. I think they’ll find it is greed that is the source of their troubles. Perhaps this anger will be fired up at corporations rather than Governments.

    In Australia, we are somewhat insulated from this affect (sic) but I suspect it will come sooner or later. It won’t be about grey nomads who are rusted onto the Libs but about Gen X’s and Y’s who find themselves with kids and mortgages and no chance of being a grey nomad rusted onto the Liberal party.

  • 40
    The_roth
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    There was a great Rolling Stone article on Tea Party constitutes in which the journalist, after going on tour with various proponents of that group, stated that the major supporters he saw (apocryphal of course) were older middle class people on welfare who didn’t want to see anyone but themselves with their snout in the trough.

    Here’s the URL http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/matt-taibbi-on-the-tea-party-201009

    I’m almost certain I linked to it from Crikey in the 1st place, when it was first published.

  • 41
    Jillian Blackall
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    @ Rodney

    I think a lot of people don’t recognise that most people can’t have everything, eg a large house, 2 or more children, holidays etc. There are trade-offs required. I am generally quite happy with my life and the main reason is that I have avoided the expense of children and I focus primarily on paying the mortgage for a small apartment in a suburb that I like.

  • 42
    Jimmy
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Rodney - “In Australia, we are somewhat insulated from this affect (sic) but I suspect it will come sooner or later.” How or why will this happen? Our fundamental economic position is dramatically different from the US, plus we have a better health, education, industrial relations and welfare system and a better regulated banking system.

  • 43
    Captain Planet
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I suggest these groups aren’t driven by overt racism or sexism. The participants in such groups are unlikely to be any more racist or sexist than the rest of us.

    Instead, the motivating force behind these groups appears to be more about expressing resentment about social and economic change in recent decades, and particularly because such changes have delivered nothing but difficulties for the demographics we’re talking about: social change has undermined the once-dominant status of older white heteros-xual people and males in particular, and, in the Australian context, economic changes have squeezed them, along with everyone else, into a far more competitive, market-based economy that no longer delivers the sort of certainty they grew up with and that Generation X, in particular, never had.

    I suggest that these groups are driven by overt racism and sexism, respectively.

    If an individual or group of people are upset that social changes have delivered nothing but difficulties for the demographics we’re talking about: social change has undermined the once-dominant status of older white heteros-xual people and males in particular, then I suggest that their primary driver is racism and sexism. Angrily lamenting the loss of male, white dominance - what could be more racist and sexist than that?

  • 44
    Lord Barry Bonkton
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Suzzie is the only one whingeing about the govt. ( just doing it multible times )

  • 45
    Blaggers
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    To all those calling for an early election, please build a bridge.

    This is the government the populous elected. This is democracy.

    I had to endure the Howard years - turning our back on closer ties with our Asian neighbors, becoming lapdogs of the US, sending us into an unjustified war, completely ignoring investment in renewable technologies. The list of embarrassment is long and hurtful.

    And really, would you, in all seriousness, vote in Abbott? What has he shown us? What sort of inspirational leader is he? All he seems to inspire is hate, vitriol, division, anger, lies, disrespect and ignominy. And he is meant to be of the god fearing Ilk.

    As i see it, there is currently no one fit to lead. The only two who gave us a glimmer of hope were killed off by their own parties. The only two who had the backbone to stand up to the corporate/capitalist democracy we are currently in.

    And what’s with the socialist remarks. One hand argues, it is the evil that will unhinge society, and on the other, the government needs to spend more on hospitals, roads, homeless, disadvantaged. Correct my simplistic understanding but isn’t pure socialism a system that generates the best for all?

  • 46
    Gederts Skerstens
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Keane’s quite correct, in bits: “…Instead, the motivating force behind these groups appears to be more about expressing resentment about social and economic change in recent decades,…”

    That’s right.

    …because such changes have … undermined the once-dominant status of older white heteros-xual people and males in particular…”

    Not even close. Such changes as have come close to wrecking Western society without permission from the Most of Us, diminishing the quality of life for every member of society, young, old, male, female, orange or purple, merry or morose. (Merry in the old-fashioned sense).
    Removing the notion of Good and Bad, Better or Worse, even faster or slower, where every runner in a foot race gets the same prize isn’t something We asked for. Or the results: with walking across the park after sunset now dangerous, school-leavers knowing no more after five years than when they started or ‘work’ evaluated according to its title, not usefullness.

    Social Justice is a serious issue for Conservatives.
    The Most of Us pay for everything. It’s Just that we call the shots, set the agendas according to the outcomes We want. That’s the reason for the increasing demos. Nothing to do with loss of privileges.

  • 47
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne,

    You asked elsewhere why ASIO should be scrutinising those hanging about with the teabaggers … the guy above is a prime example. Deeply sinister Norwegian type stuff spews from this fella’s head.

  • 48
    Paul Anton
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    The “Tory-rage” has started, it’s just a surpise it took so long to get organised. You have to keep in mind these people are immune to all the traditional attacks from the left (ie:racism/sexism/homophobia/whatever). We’re coming after ya!

  • 49
    LJG..............
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I think the question is not so much “What motivates the Parl house rallies” as what isn’t - despite a massive amount of free publicity from Alan Jones and the Media it’s been a bit of a non-event really hasn’t it?
    And I think we all know that writing to your local MP does F&%ck all. Unless they get a massive amount of letters and call - as in the Live Cattle Trade Issue, they will politely ignore it.

    The Marginal Electorates have the two Parties by the Ballot Boxes and I think those of us who only vote one way should learn from them. I don’t think they are going to be ignoring the wishes of those two little independent electorates this time either.

  • 50
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Mr Anton…

    That’s a “foreign” name isn’t it? You’ll keep.

    As for “coming after us” … I’ll barely be able to nod off tonight, my mind cringing at the prospect of little old men in hats boodling down the Hume H’way in the Hillman Minx.

    Tory rage indeed … have a cuppa and a good lie down. Teabag OK?

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