Election Coverage / Government Watch / Politics

Australia’s Election Is a Reminder that Deeds Matter More than Words

AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman

Australia is usually seen as one of the countries with politics most similar to the United States. Both British colonies, founded by non-conformists, Puritans and Roundheads in the case of America, convicts in Australia’s case, both developed a frontier based on wide spaces. Australia has also stood out for being perhaps the most conservative country in the Anglosphere other than the United States. The Coalition of the Liberal and National parties, the former representing urban and business conservatives, the latter rural interests, has ruled for 60 of the last 82 years.

So, does the defeat of that conservative Coalition this past weekend hold lessons for Republicans in the U.S.? Yes, and the lesson is simple: if you are an incumbent government that wants to win reelection, you should keep your promises. The Australian results don’t show that voters rejected conservatism inasmuch as they rejected the efforts of Scott Morrison’s government to cynically use conservative issues during the campaign which the Coalition had shown little or no concern with over the course of nine years in power.

If you are the incumbent government seeking reelection, it is hard to scare voters about how opposition policies on the environment might raise gas prices when prices in Australia have already more than doubled in a year, much less to make an issue of male participation in female sports when the government itself had chosen not to take action on the issue mere months beforehand. It was insulting, like using a “dog whistle” everyone could hear.  The intended recipients, especially in the upscale seats, were insulted to be asked to vote on the government’s words in the spring of 2022, and not its record the nine years before. In addition, it was a conservative campaign that rang hollow when the government had no clear plans to deal with the cost of living beyond suggesting the opposition might make things worse. Finally, Morrison’s government ignored the elephant in the room – COVID-19.

If anything, the conservative Coalition lost because they tried to fight the same campaign in 2022 as they had in 2019, running on everything except the single most important policy of their term in office. There was hardly any mention of Australia’s punitive COVID-19 restrictions, which saw the country nearly cut off from the wider world for over a year. Every government which confronted COVID-19 struggled with a response. It was, without a doubt, difficult for center-right governments whose inclinations would be to err on the side of individual freedom and the economy. Morrison could perhaps have defended his line; after all, much of the opposition favored even tougher lockdowns. Instead, he chose to pretend COVID had never happened. It was the worst of both worlds. It let the state governments, which enforced the most vigorous lockdowns and were Labor-led, off the hook, and it indicated the government did not even acknowledge the damage done to the economic prospects of millions, much less that it had any intention of helping them.

Oddly, the closest comparison to the conservative campaign is the one Terry McAuliffe ran in Virginia. Democrats were defending an eight-year tenure in office, which, while not by any definition disastrous, was a record they had to win or lose on. Instead, McAuliffe decided to run a culture war campaign against Youngkin and the Republican Party, effectively telling voters that whatever they thought of the Democratic tenure in Richmond, the Republicans would be worse because of their views on abortion, absentee voting, or parental involvement in education, or COVID. It did not work because Youngkin merely denied the more extreme charges while framing his positions in forms that appealed to swing voters’ concerns. Merely observing Youngkin was “pro-life” turned out not to be a winning strategy any more than the conservative Coalition suggesting Labor advocated cutting CO2 emissions or opposed a ban on male participation in female sports.

The lesson of the Australian result for Republicans is that deeds matter. It is all well and good to have effective messaging. It can even win you an election or two. But when you have been in power for years, clever messaging on issues you have done nothing about and have no plans to resolve comes across as insulting, not compelling, to those who care about them. It is a warning, too, for Joe Biden, who seems prepared to run a 2024 campaign against “Ultra MAGA” in which he will blame Republicans for everything he failed to accomplish while suggesting they will make things worse. Entirely absent will be any effort to explain how reelecting him will make things better. He should indeed pay attention to the Australian results. Not in the form of seeing another victory for a center-left party, but rather an example of a government that lost votes almost everywhere by blaming everyone but itself for national problems while providing no defense of its record or plans for the future.           

Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman.  


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Hal
4 days ago

The Corona Virus Covid Panic turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Communist oriented political proponents like the DemocRat Party. When you get the public in a fearful mode, you can get away with just about anything that would not have been acceptable otherwise.

Debra Reynolds
1 month ago

I don’t know why anyone thinks Australia’s government is any where close to the US. They’re very socialist, totalitarian, racist, bigoted and able-ist. Their government has been very bad for many years, decades. They’re NOTHING like us.

Celticwoman
1 month ago

If the article rings true, and I truly believe it does, the Republicans should win the country back (except for the presidency) in the mid-terms. The job the Democrats have done since they “took back the country” is anything but “build back better” and there was nothing covert about the fact that they thought they knew what was better for all of us. They remind us often. What concerns me more is the fact that in the past given the power the Republicans all become RINOs and the American people are thrown under the bus. For example, it was more important for the many Republicans in Congress to be never Trumpers than it was for them to vote on policies that President Trump advocated for that would (and did often without the help of Congress) be good for America. I’m definitely praying the Republicans win the mid-terms. But I’m also fervently praying that they’ll know what to do with the power once they retrieve it. History does not bode well for that.

Hal
4 days ago
Reply to  Celticwoman

If the Republicans can get the necessary number of seats in Congress, they can get Biden out using impeachment. That should be a selling point for voters to vote Republican. But, alas, Camel Hairs would likely be a more dangerous replacement for Biden. Lesson to be taken to heart: Rigged elections have enormously bad consequences and are extremely difficult to remedy. THE ELECTION PROCESS MUST BE FIXED … PRONTO.

Stephen Russell
1 month ago

Expand the Police State??

PaulE
1 month ago

The fact that the supposedly conservative government decided to essentially lock-down the entire country, under threat of using military force to force compliance against its now unarmed citizens (another country where the citizens made the mistake of surrendering almost all of their guns as an over-reaction to a single violent incident) that refused to comply, had much more to do with the result of this vote than anything the author of this article is discussing.

The reality is the prior government failed to “walk the talk”, meaning its actions DIDN’T match its conservative rhetoric when it mattered most (something the establishment Republicans in Congress should pay heed to given they frequently “walk across the aisle” to help Democrats pass their insane spending bills). In short, the Morrison led government wasn’t actually a conservative government at all, but instead what we would refer to as a government of RINOs. While they spoke like conservatives, when it suited them, they almost always acted as what we would expect from Democrats. During Covid, instead of acting in a rational manner and respecting the rights of its citizens, the government instead opted to act like your typical third-world despotic regime. Something you would expect from your typical modern day “Progressive” (Socialist) government, that claims it’s “All for your own good.” as they impose one unilateral, draconian decision after another on a hapless population. It was the cherry on top of a long list of bad decisions and policies that the administration had made over the past 9 years.

Obviously, the Australians remembered this recent treatment despite all the canned campaign rhetoric that the so-called Conservative Coalition dusted off for the recent election. So the result is NOT that surprising at all. Unfortunately for the people of Australia, they traded a bad option for an even worse one as they will soon find out, as the equivalent of what is very similar to our Democrat Party assumes power and re-imposes all the disastrous policies that crippled the Australian economy before.

Jan E
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulE

Perhaps, as we may find out ourselves, they really, truly didn’t have a choice. Lesser of two evils? Anger and frustration fueled their choices and drove them to do this. I wonder if it was all calculated by someone pulling the strings. I’ve learned not to trust ANY party. Heck, I’ve learned not to trust many people anymore. Sad state we’re all in.

PaulE
1 month ago
Reply to  Jan E

Believe it or not, but the party that just got ousted in Australia was actually the lesser of the two evils. Most Americans have to understand that the United States is truly unique in that we have the capability, from time to time as in Reagan and Trump, to elect leaders that actually “walk the talk” and do what they campaigned on. Almost all the rest of western civilization has a parliamentary form of government that essentially ensures the ruling coalition doesn’t differ substantially from the party it defeated, because of all the factions that are needed to form a government. Yes, they may have some slightly different views on how something should be done, but fundamentally both parties under this parliamentary system share common ideals and methods on 90 percent of issues.

Yes, the vote in Australia was obviously an emotional response to the recent memories of the Covid lockdowns there. When people react based on emotion, they frequently make bad choices that they will later regret. That will be the case in Australia within the next 6 to 12 months, as the new leader re-implements many of the disastrous policies that nearly wrecked the Australian economy the last time.

Max
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulE

Paul E, you are so right about what will be happening in Australia in the near future. I have relations in the Sydney area who have said they will be moving to the USA and hope that what has happened in their country will not follow to the USA. People need to wake up and take the appropriate action to keep this country from falling into tyranny.

PaulE
1 month ago
Reply to  Max

Hi Max,

I also have some relatives in Australia and to say they were p*ssed at the arbitrary and capricious way the so-called conservative government enacted far stricter lockdowns than seen anywhere here in the United States. However, they had the good sense to realize that voting for the other party would only have been going from the frying pan directly into the fire. Unfortunately, too many Australians didn’t and now they will be for a real world of hurt in short order.

I hope you have given your relatives a clear-eyed description of the United States as it exists today. The last thing you would want is for them to move here and quickly realize the United States of today is NOT the United States of decades ago. That today we are governed by Socialists, who call themselves Democrats, and that the country is in a pitched battle between preserving what is left of our republic and descending into the abyss of socialism.

Max
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulE

My relations are well informed about our country’s situation so they will not be surprised and do understand what is going on here.

PIDL
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulE

They are not socialists! They are communists through and through.

Celticwoman
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulE

Kind of reminds me of here. Too many bought the negative rhetoric about President Trump so it became “anyone but Trump”. I’m still shocked at how little people knew about the person they picked to be the most powerful in the world. Now that they realize they screwed up, they’re still backing him because they don’t want to admit they were totally fooled.

Kim
1 month ago
Reply to  Max

Waking up assumes they’re willing to make the effort to figure out why conservatives offer better choices. Too many are willing to vote for the first person promising them free stuff–phones, medical care, college degrees, grants and subsidies for this or that. It’s a battle between the givers and the takers. I hate putting this into words, but there are too many stupid Americans exercising their right to vote. Incidentally, one of my favorite news sources on YouTube is Australia’s Sky News. A warm welcome to your Sydney relatives…

Max
1 month ago
Reply to  Kim

Agree.

Celticwoman
1 month ago
Reply to  Kim

That’s my problem with the voters today. They want to be taken care of. My family were Democrats. They were conservatives through and through. They wanted nothing from the federal government but to be left alone. I came of voting age at the time of LBJ and I saw where the Democrat Party was headed. I became the first Republican in my family. There are many times when I’d like to throttle some of them, but I still feel they believe in personal freedom and responsibility. I know the Democrats find that totally unpalatable. They feel out of control of their own lives if they don’t control ours – even if it means chaos in our streets. And considering the ineptness of too many adult voters today, why in Heaven’s name would anyone want to lower the voting age to 16. Only the Democrats who are just interested in more, not better, voters.

Kim
1 month ago
Reply to  Celticwoman

Yes, for the dems it’s win at any cost. They can’t stand the thought of relinquishing control of government to any other party than their own, because, after all, they’re so much smarter than we are (lol). Or that’s what they want American voters to think. But we know better than that.

Their system of government is not sustainable. They want to give the voters more and more stuff or programs or services. Eventually, as Margaret Thatcher said, “they’ll run out of other peoples’ money”. It’s like being addicted to sugar (or other substances)–have a little, and you’ll want more; they do want to be taken care of. But at what cost? Get ’em hooked on the before and after school programs (“free”, except for the taxes we paid), and before you know it, they’re asking for free college.

Hillary Clinton wrote the book. Just hearing the title, “It Takes a Village” nauseates me. No…those are my kids, and I’m responsible for them.

I, too, have a few relatives still pulling the D lever. One is teetering on the edge and is going more independent/libertarian. She might even run for local public office, but I told her to get all the information first and learn how government and the economy work so she won’t make a fool of herself. When we debate the issues, she’ll learn something, another perspective that her polls and websites never explained correctly. I mean, some of what she and her friends have gathered is really wacky.

I asked an elderly relative about 20 years ago why she always voted for democrats. This person was comfortable financially, but her priest often spoke about starving children and families across the nation who...had to be taken care of.

PIDL
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulE

This looks like a total repeat of our last election in the U.S. That is what they did to Trump, campaigned against him using Covid. But they had to cheat to win. And then proceeded to destroy our economy. It looks like a world strategy.

These NWO people want all countries to be second tier. That way the NWO will be the first tier controlling all of them. Maybe this is a psychological thing. The NWO can come back promising everything to the people of the countries of the world, getting them to vote in a “World Government”.

Celticwoman
1 month ago
Reply to  PIDL

There is a thing in Psychology called the Asch Conformity Experiment. It is the horrific idea that under the right fearmongering (today’s term) you can literally control all the world’s people. That was the idea that was used during COVID to not only scare people into doing what the NWO (or as my husband calls them The Star Chamber) wanted them to do but relinquishing all common sense to allow themselves to be vaccinated with an unproven, experimental “vaccine”. Most people haven’t a clue what they allowed into their bodies and furthermore they don’t care. If everyone else is doing it, it must be good for everyone.

And to make matters worse, we were so happy this did not affect our children, but when Big Pharma saw more dollar signs in vaccinating our innocent, defenseless children, rumors started flying thick and fast that the children were dropping like flies from COVID. One doctor responsible for this fessed up recently and said she lied about treating thousands of children with COVID. Then colleges were allowed to act in the parental role insisting that all students “must” be vaccinated to attend classes onsite and in some cases, to even enroll in the college. The world will never know the extent of the death and destruction caused by these mRNA gene therapies. The NWO will never let them.

A friend of mine and her husband have been thrice jabbed and then boosted. When she and her husband were returning from Europe recently she tested negative but her husband tested positive and had to remain another ten days. She is totally incensed that they did all they were told to do and what was best for them and then her husband tested positive. Probably a false positive anyway, but now she feels betrayed. She doesn’t say as much but you can tell by the way she constantly refers to “we did all we were supposed to do and this happens”. She really hasn’t a clue.

PIDL
1 month ago
Reply to  Jan E

It looks like the Globalists are already in charge of the New World Order and running it every day to solidify their control of the world and an establishment of a World Government. They are the ones in control.

Two party systems under the control of one group looks like it had happened in Australia many years ago. It has also happened in the U.S. That is why when either party has control, they do not promote needed legislation, but sweep that under the rug so they can use it as a talking point in the next election.

DACA for children of Mexican Illegals comes to mind. That should have been fixed long ago. That is why Trump stopped it, hoping that Congress would do their job and fix it.

But, all they had time to do was waste taxpayer’s money pursing false claims created from a false narrative by the Democrat party. It is so sad none of these criminals will serve any time. They are all part of the Elites, above the law.

I am so upset that I did not see this years ago. But this is not an overnight thing. Climate Change, ESG, WHO, World Economic Forum, and other things all being promoted by the NWO. They also want Iran unregulated nuclear capability. They know that will cause upheaval in the mid-east, maybe even nuclear war.

I feel there is an internal agenda to all of this. I just cannot fathom what it would be because all of these things are crazy. It makes me wonder if the old Nazis are still out there and they are the ones in charge.

It has to be something else.

Celticwoman
1 month ago
Reply to  PIDL

It’s all about Power. And we all know that absolute power corrupts absolutely so the more power they have, the more they take. Not want but take. See my comment above about the Asch Conformity experiment. It worked way too well with COVID. Now they’re trying a repeat with Monkeypox. The only thing that will stop this is for all the world’s people to stand up and say enough is enough.

Europe can begin by getting rid of the European Union. Europe was sold on the idea that they could become another USA, but I saw once proud and powerful nations totally turn their sovereignty over to a bunch of power-hungry bureaucrats who wanted to call all the shots. Now they have countries where chaos reigns because they were forced to open their doors to whomever from wherever, with whatever agenda.

Climate change is not about saving the Earth. They skew the numbers to suit their agenda du jour. Geology is my passion and I know that mankind can never do to Mother Earth what she has done to herself and she survived. All she has to do is release a few volcanoes at the same time and mankind will cease to exist and it will have nothing to do with us or our behavior. We’re but a blip on her radar. So I asked myself what exactly is that agenda about. Well if the purpose remained hidden before, the Biden administration has brought that answer into the light of day. More money and more power for a few and less money and power, not to mention lifestyle, for the rest of us. Elections definitely have their consequences. If no one believed that before it has become impossible to ignore under Biden. The state of Vermont is buying into the Climate agenda hook line and sinker. Before long the sinker part will become evident if they don’t change the way the state is governed, and that includes their RINO governor. It’s starting to become impossible to live there. Glad I don’t. I’m hanging out in hot, humid southeast Texas where the government thankfully makes more sense than the weather and I can still afford a pretty decent lifestyle.

Celticwoman
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulE

I must confess that until lately I hadn’t even realized Australia had a conservative government. During COVID I was reminded more of China and North Korea so I immediately assumed they were under a liberal government. I remember the days of Howard who I thought was a conservative but was a liberal and I think he would have handled the COVID situation much differently. Maybe Australia needs to think more about what they call their parties based on what they truly stand for.

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