Our day in the sun

I was up to the wee small hours this morning trying to draft a leaflet come statement for the state election here in Queensland.

But what do you say?

With the massive capacity of the main parties to monopolise the debate --assuming there is one, of course -- the rest of the political spectrum gets pushed way to the margins. I guess we're used to it but then the situation in regard to our so very limited electoral -- Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum -- choices is worsening.

Here in Queensland One Nation rose so quickly and so aggressively from among the hustings that it could storm parliament on the smell of an oily rag -- platform wise. One Nation's populist and racist rhetoric touched a chord among some of those sectors that had been hurting under Hawke/Keating Labor and later under the duress of the Howard agenda.

One Nation's peak was such that at the 1998 state election here , it won 22.7% of the vote and 11 of the 89 seats. Thats' a remarkable impact for a political dog's breakfast of a party.

Now I'm not saying I am nostalgic for the good ol days when One Nation laid siege to the parliamentary status quo. But that extraordinary success indicated that something was afoot that wasn't being addressed by the main players.

As we know the sort of politics that One Nation was offering was a stalking horse for the sort of politics John Howard (and the ALP to some very large degree) delivers today under their own respective patents. Being zenophobic is now once again de rigueur for fortress Australia.

In a very real sense One Nation has nonetheless won. Despite the fact that the sort of anguish reflected in its support base was formatted in a crude racism -- its quick ascent wasn't simply an exercise in blame. The dynamic that One Nation harnessed has a lot to do with the lack of vigorous political debate in this country and the chronic absence of political choice. People were voting more against the major parties as they were for One Nation.

John Howard is a master of deflection as he plays so many bottom cards to stay on top in the same way that his dead mentor , Bob Menzies kicked the commie can as it suited him. This is a quintessentially smart operator. Nonetheless it has been under his watch that there was a break out. Mainly this phenomenon was a Queensland thing -- a place were regional politics plays such a big parliamentary part -- but there is still promise in that example.

I'm not suggesting that this time our side will triumph some how -- there are no such guarantees. The example of One Nation does indicate, nonetheless, that if enough people turn away from the political routinism that is so relentlessly imposed on us -- then a break out is possible.

The racist have had their day in the sun. Now it's our turn.

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