Australia’s ‘Bull Moose’ Moment

One of the interesting aspects of the 2019 Federal election is the large number of plausible independent candidates in electorates such as Wentworth, Warringah and even Kooyong running against sitting Liberals with sufficient coordination (and funding) such as to be able to run a common advertisement.

Amongst the matters pushed by the indies include climate change, electoral funding reform and a relaxation in refugee policy.

In other inner-city electorates, some pale blue t-shirt wearing Liberal incumbents are differentiating themselves against other dark blue t-shirt wearing candidates by calling themselves ‘modern Liberals’.

These outcomes are emblematic of the distinction that has always been present between  those in electorates constituting people with relatively high incomes and so possessing a capacity to vote according to lifestyle preferences and those ‘cost of living’ Liberals in the seats represented by Tony’s tradies and the Howard battlers.

One wonders whether these developments will presage some form of new political alignment.

In 1912 T.R. Roosevelt walked out of the US Republican Party and formed the Progressive Party (sometimes called the ‘Bull Moose’ Party).

Campaigning on a platform called The New Nationalism, Roosevelt demanded electoral reform as well effective control of big business through a strong federal commission, radical tax reform (including the imposition of income tax at the federal level) and a whole series of measures to put the federal government squarely into the business of social and economic reform.

This split the Republican vote and led to the victory of Woodrow Wilson and the Democratic Party in the 1912 American elections.

That iteration of the Progressive Party soon dissolved, with most participants going back to the Republicans.

However from Wilson onwards the US Democrats have picked up the ‘progressive’ mantle in American politics, implementing many of the TR policies. And it remains interesting that many of the seats representing the wealthier areas of the larger American cities.

The positions of the coordinated independents carry an echo of the 1912 progressivism of ‘TR’. It will therefore be interested to see if as a result of the 2019 election will lead to Australia having its own ‘bull moose’ party moment.

By | 2020-01-23T04:38:24+11:00 May 12th, 2019|2019 election|0 Comments