The hard right – Trump’s, Murdoch’s and Dutton’s – don’t care much for the kind of power that’s moderated by institutions and parliament and good old fashioned democracy. These radical “conservatives” don’t care much for democracy at all. Longstanding democratic institutions, in their view, might occasionally be co-opted, but can never be trusted. That the population might want its government to function in its collective interest, not just for the loudest and richest, is an inherent risk of the people’s rule.
Was anyone really surprised when parliament was shut down “on the request of Mr Dutton,” or were we all just pretending?
We know well what Dutton thinks of human rights, of international law, of senate committees, of well-intentioned bureaucrats, of elected Prime Ministers, of common standards of decency, of convention. No different to what Trump thinks of judges, juries, senators, law. Speed bumps on the road to authoritarian rule.
Dutton can still lose out of this, but Murdoch and the hard right ideologues have already won. If their man gets in, good. If they lose but in doing so heap scorn on the idea of government, trash the institution of parliament, ruin what credibility the Liberal Party has left, all the better. It’s a longer game.
A choice between an asbestos warrior and two competing bigots is no choice at all, but things could be worse. The current parliament was already unmanageable for Turnbull – it’s going to be a nightmare for whoever comes next. There’s no chance of anything really serious going wrong, because (1) the government has no policies, (2) it has no chance of getting anything contentious through parliament and (3) its time is almost up.
It’s the next parliament that matters, and the one after that. No victories are certain in this game. How many times have we thought we’d seen the back of Abbott?
By rights, the hard right, which has never had even a quarter of the vote, should lose, and even more so after this week’s events. We should be careful not to let them take democracy, and our collective faith in it, down with them.