This is THE issue of the day. The left and right don’t get it, and the sensible centre is empty.
Let’s play a game.
I’ll give you a policy and you tell me whether it goes better with Pauline Hanson or Sarah Hanson-Young (The Greens).
1: Reduce immigration into Australia by 70%.
Hanson or Hanson Young?
Ok, what about
2. Increase corporate taxes to 45%?
3. Limit CEO wages to a certain multiple of average employee wages?
4. A Buffet Rule – where the richest one percent pay a fixed share of their income, no matter how creative they get with their tax minimisation strategies.
What do you think? Hanson or Hanson-Young?
Now if you’re like most people you think this game is pretty easy. Pauline Hanson is all about lower immigration. The Greens are all about taxing the be-jeezus out of the filthy rich.
You don’t even have to think about it.
And the reason why we don’t have to think about it is because we’ve been thoroughly conditioned to associate these things with these entities. The hard right are anti-immigration. The hard left are tax and spend and identity politics.
But now what if I told you that there was someone who held all of these views. Where would you place them on the political spectrum?
They’re ‘anti-immigration’ so they belong over with Pauline right? But then they want to tax the rich so they belong over with Hanson-Young right?
Oh dear. It gets very confusing.
This is the Jedi mind trick that Dick Smith is pulling on the nation right now, and I haven’t seen anyone get a proper handle on it.
Last week Dick Smith launched the Dick Smith Fair Go Campaign. This is a broad agenda to make Australia a fairer place, but its centrepiece is reducing Australia’s best-in-world immigration intake back to long run averages – back from around 230K a year, to 70K.
There’s also a bunch of porn for pinko lefties – including increasing corporate tax rates, the Buffet Rule and banning corporate political donations.
(I don’t agree with all of Dick’s ideas, but I do agree with a lot.)
On the face of it, you’d be thinking the Greens would be jumping all over this. Of all the millionaire manifestos out there, this is far and away the most progressive I’ve seen.
But no. Dick’s talking about immigration. That means he’s probably a racist. We’re not touching that one.
Likewise, Dick’s long-standing commitment to the environment probably doesn’t make Pauline Hanson a natural ally. But no, since Dick’s position on immigration is about putting the standard of living of existing Australians ahead of a mindless need to grow the economy and grow the population at all costs, Dick and Pauline are jumping into bed together.
And Alan Jones is cheering them on from the closet.
And while Dick’s getting traction on shock-jock radio shows, the progressive media – they’re not touching Dick with a barge pole. When they do, it’s only to take vague swipes at him.
Dr Emma Campbell, the director of the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA), said she had not seen Dick Smith’s campaign, which goes to air Tuesday, but was disappointed by the premise.
“I think it is sad someone would draw on an argument of fear and hatred when overwhelmingly we are a country that celebrates migration,” she said.
In other words, I haven’t seen the ad, I don’t know what he’s talking about, but I’m happy to say that Dick Smith is a racist fear-monger.
I think this is a huge weakness in the left. No matter how good your policies are. No matter how sensible or thoroughly researched – if there’s even a hint that you’re talking about immigration, then you’re obviously a racist.
And Dick Smith is a case in point. Most of his policies would give Karl Marx a boner, but the best the Left can offer is grumbles about, “you should be more tolerant, Dick.”
The ABC didn’t even bother showing up to his campaign launch.
I mean, that’s bizarre, isn’t it? One of Australia’s most famous and celebrated identities launches a million dollar ad campaign around one of the hottest of hot-button topics, and you don’t think it’s worth sending a junior journalist along to see how it goes?
Steve Bannon (Chump’s Tief of Staff, now packing his bags) recognised the weakness for what it was.
“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
What he’s saying is that if you can’t even ask the question about whether we want 100K immigrants a year or 200K, even though that will have an affect on house prices and wages (maybe large, maybe small, but definitely it will have some affect), then you are effectively sidelining yourself from the debate.
You’re effectively handing that entire terrain over to the right. Saying go for it. We’ll be over in the corner sulking about racists while you speak directly to people’s needs.
For cynical political operators like Bannon, it’s like taking candy from a baby.
And sadly the political centre, which is where Dick Smith is and where I like to think I am (because I am the centre of the universe) is surprisingly empty.
And for a nation crying out for people-centred policy making – policy that isn’t driven by corporate lobbying on the right or ineffectual posturing on the left – that’s a tragedy.
So up you go Dick Smith. I don’t think most people understand what you’re doing.
But like many great minds, you’re just ahead of your time.
I know your pain.
Is Dick Smith a racist?