The current Abbott stratagem is working a treat. He is tapping into tendencies in the Oz body politic that have endured over many generations. There are many that distrust and dislike well educated forceful women. I continually hear opprobrium bandied about on Gillard's marital status, her childlessness, her atheism, her industrial advocacy background (she must be a socialist). A nasty legend has been woven by misogynistic spin meisters who want their boy in power, and they will do anything (within the law presumably) to achieve it.
And then there's mediocrity. What has passed for journalism over the last months has been truly sad. Misinformation and outright disinformation have been the currency of many mainstream commentators. The template for this was set up with the formation of a minority government. Many in the print, radio and television media did not like this result. They did not anticipate it, they have no control over it, and they want it gone. As Keating said the other day in describing Abbott's response, 'if you are not going to give me the job I'll wreck the place'. Well yes, and he has friends to help him.
However, to get away with such a strategy you have to presume a highly credulous audience. Why do people fall for demagoguery in the first place? It taps into predilections & prejudices and panders to fear and ignorance. The anti-carbon tax campaign does all these things. Informed analysis is ignored by many in favour of dissemblers and hate-mongers. This is how the tea party operates in the US. As the esteemed intellectual Harold Bloom summed it up in a RN interview recently, the tea party signifies the growth of oligarchy in America and a creeping fascism.
Oh, and of course the whole stratagem is underpinned by mendacity. To make this work you have to paint your opponent as the 'liar'. I haven't heard an ounce of truth from any of Abbott's apologists, and certainly not from the man himself. He lies for a living and as good as admitted it in a notorious 7.30 report interview. Yet, he has the gall to fashion a political scare campaign around the central motif of the PM having lied about a carbon tax. Why does this work? The answer comes back to misogyny and mediocrity. We are mired in a reactionary mindset that enables this type of low-rent politics to succeed. Howard did it and now Abbott is doing it, and we are having it done to us.
The only way to counter this approach is to keep stating the simple truth. Opinion is malleable but the facts don't lie. The nay-sayers on climate change action can find comfort in Abbott's magic pudding, but it is illusory and will end in tears for generations to come. Putting a price on carbon is essential to achieving structural change in our economy; structural change is necessary to achieve the investment in clean energy solutions; clean energy solutions are essential for a sustainable future. It ain't rocket science, but a difficult pill to swallow in challenging economic times. Is this country to become a model for positive change or a sniveling, whingeing echo of the tea party phenomenon? Australians must be very careful what they wish for.....and keep the faith folks.