There has been a lot of talk recently in the US about the progressive wing of the Democrats pushing the party further to the left. The reality is the “Left” in the United States is not what most countries would consider the left of the political center, but rather the center.
When I look at Australian politics, I really struggle to see a really progressive political elite or political class. The vast majority tend to sit in the center, with different views on the individual and the community, relative to the economy and culture. There are a few members of the Liberal and National Party that tend towards Right-ism or Individualism, while the Green Party may tend towards Left-ism and Communitarianism. However, those few members do not make up much of a majority.
My point is that the concept of the progressive left is not a major player in Australia – it seems to be primarily a small and noisy minority that seeks to make significant changes to Australia.
What does the progressive left want to achieve?
The progressive left generally wants to see changes at a social/community level – their focus is generally on issues like clean energy, increased taxes for the wealthy, action of climate change, more equitable approaches to welfare, increased spending on health and education, and similar such programs.
These may not seem like far-left topics, but when they stray into activist territory and discuss issues like #MeToo, Black Lives Matters and other topics of current interest, the right wing commentarial are the first to claim lines like “political correctness has gone mad” and “the far left are trying to kill something” or “woke culture, etc.
In terms of what they want to achieve, it is not always a bad thing what they want to achieve. However, the bigger issue is that they use phrases that make others feel inferior or stupid or offended. A report in the Guardian in October spoke about the importance of language in communicating between the left and the right. The use of new language makes it hard to develop a sympathy to their causes, and by being unwilling to discuss issues in a way that other understand, they find themselves isolated within their own bubbles.
It results in a self-perpetuating bubble where the left and right remain separated from each other, flinging insults at each other with the partisan split continuing to widen. The rest of the population stays in the trenches in between, watching the fight in bemusement as they do not see the importance – it does not impact their lives and would rather the ruling classes actually dealt with what was important.
This is why the progressive/radical left struggle to gain significant traction – they are not speaking about topics that affect a significant portion of society. I agree that equity should be an important topic that affects all of society, but under the current make-up of political society, the elite class of society are not interested in supporting women or POC any more than old white men.
As a result, the progressive or radical left need to look at their policy offerings and consider how they can pitch them to a wider audience. If a wider portion of society is interested in those policies, then they will enter the mainstream in some capacity.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree, and why? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!