Waleed Aly makes some important points here – we end up so far down the slippery slope in what we don’t bother challenging in our leaders that it becomes hard to identify when it all went so horribly wrong. Each incremental step seems small until you look at how far we have collectively fallen in our acceptance of injustice, intolerance, corruption and greed. The problems in Australian academia reflect the problems in Australian society – so much is corrupted and wrong, but it is difficult to know how to make appropriate change from within.
It’s true in a sense that Trump has stolen the Republican party. But it’s also true it was there for the taking. There are many reasons Trump is succeeding – anger and disillusionment among a humiliated electorate is one of them. But there’s also the fact that the Republicans have been training their voters to indulge every reactionary prejudice for years. Trump simply does this better, louder, and with less varnish than his rivals. Can we be surprised when he vanquishes them? Can the Republican establishment really cry foul when he outdoes them?And is it so different here? Well, in a way, yes. A moderate is presently in the top job and the reactionary forces aren’t yet taking endorsements from former Ku Klux Klan wizards (they’ll have to settle for Reclaim Australia for now). But there’s an important commonality too: that the contradictions that were once holding conservative parties together, and delivering them political success, have now fallen apart. The most important of these is the contradiction between liberal economics and the politics of “values”.It’s hard to be the staunch defenders of family, culture and tradition while you’re also staunch advocates of things like high-skilled immigration and workplace “flexibility” of the kind WorkChoices offered. It’s hard to believe the market should be free to exploit and commodify whatever consumers will tolerate – sex, culture, children – and yet pretend we are bound together by inviolable, sacred values.