Cr Tim Baxter reflects on the US elections and right-wing politics in Australia

By  |  0 Comments

By Cr Tim Baxter

Well readers, it’s been quite a ride getting here, and the ride’s not over yet.

I’m very happy to be writing to the readers of the St Kilda News in my new capacity of the Councillor for Canal Ward for the City of Port Phillip. The level of support I received at the ballot box is overwhelming, and sets some pretty high expectations for me over the next term, and I hope to meet those expectations as I represent you on Council.

Recently, our councillors had a couple of days together to get to know each other and discuss some ideas for our agenda over the next four years. I really enjoyed this time with the new councillors, and was very pleased to see broad consensus on some of the things we want to do to make Port Phillip a better place for everyone.

However, on the second day, our discussions were interrupted by reports coming in from the US election. I was stunned to see Donald Trump ascendant in the US presidential election, and am still a bit shell-shocked. Many, many people, in print or online, have discussed the ramifications of this event, and attempted to dissect the meaning for us in Australia and for politics in general.

Much like Brexit and the resurrection of Hanson-ism, the rise of Trumpism has upended a lot of the traditional knowledge of how politics and political movements work. Over the last thirty years we have advanced with regard to our social liberties and rights, while neoliberal economics have deprived many of the opportunities to engage fully in our society.

As many would likely know already, my politics are firmly of the Left. I’ve been in a position to welcome the moves towards freedom and acceptance (including our painstakingly slow progress towards allowing people of the same sex to marry), while being increasingly concerned at how the flaws in our capitalist system go untreated, and the gap between wealthy and poor grows. To be quite honest, for those people who have lost jobs and livelihoods in our new service-oriented, globalised workforce, issues like same-sex marriage or indigenous reconciliation do not resonate. They’re worried about the economic factors that are forcing them into low-paying, insecure employment. They’re worried about the poor education outcomes at their local public schools. They’re worried about getting sick and not having a safety net.

Unfortunately for all of us, it’s the hard-right in Australia, the UK and the US that have targeted their message at this growing group of people. They radicalise these people by telling them that minorities or immigrants or feminists are responsible for their situation. They ride the wave of hate into Parliament, and even the White House.

I believe the Left needs to speak to these disadvantaged people. Rather than decrying them for their often problematic views, we should seek to engage them, and present a program to make Australia more equal, as well as more inclusive. If we do not, then Trumpism becomes the new political norm.

Find us on FacebookFind us on FacebookFind us on FacebookFind us on Facebook