Australia’s Rejection of Kevin Rudd May Foretell Political Change in the U.S.
With the victory of the Tony Abbott-led conservatives in Australia, we can see that the Anglosphere is now post-progressive. The English speaking nations of the world: England, New Zealand, Canada and now Australia are governed by conservatives. America stands apart from them as the sole remaining major leftist-governed power in the Anglo world.
If you’d like to throw India into the mix too, you find Manmohan Singh, who is pushing to deregulate foreign investment markets and has just appointed a monetary hawk, Raghuram Rajan, as the new head of the Reserve Bank of India . Canada entirely skipped the recent wave of progressivism which swept the Anglosphere, and under PM Stephen Harper has surpassed the United States in economic freedom. Our northern neighbor is now listed by both the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom and the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World as the most economically free nation in North America. Harper has been particularly diligent in cutting corporate taxes while the U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world.
England rejected the hard-core labourite policies of Gordon Brown, putting the Tory David Cameron in power. New Zealand has a center right government in power as well. The English speaking peoples (to borrow Winston’s Churchill’s evocative phrase) tend to move in a sort of partial political sync with one another. Thatcher paved the way for Reagan, preceding him, anticipating him and inspiring him. Then we see the near simultaneous rise of Blair and Clinton, then the later hawkish Blair corresponds with Bush. Brown and Obama moved both their countries hard left in step with one another. And as of last year, England moved right under Cameron. In Australia, John Howard allied with and paralleled with his friend Bush, Russ/Gilliard tracked with Obama.
And in what could herald yet another political shift, this time back to the right, Australia just handed a decisive victory to the Liberal National Party (the Australian conservative party), and a decisive defeat to the incumbent Labour Party under Kevin Rudd. Why?
We shouldn’t over-emphasize the ideological side of this election. The incumbent party was deeply divided over a personality contest between Julia Gillard, and Rudd. Gillard was a member of Rudd’s cabinet who ousted him in a coup. Rudd then staged a counter-coup in which he came back and ousted her. On the other hand, the counter-coup helped Labor’s prospects given that Gillard had become deeply unpopular, and perceived as overly ambitious and disloyal to the likable Rudd. They party was perceived as chaotic and incompetent.
But it wasn’t all personalities, the philosophical differences were sharp. Green policies were front and center. Tax policy was important too: Abbott promised to cut business taxes. Monetary policy: Abbott argued against debasement of the Australian dollar in order to promote growth, and against competitive devaluation in foreign exchange markets. Social policy: Abbott, a practicing Roman Catholic (and former seminarian), opposed calls for same sex marriage, while Rudd argued for it, with awkward attempts to link the Bible’s opposition to homosexuality with its alleged support for slavery.
In short, their issues and our issues are quite similar and Australia may well be a portent of political change in the U.S. If not, as the U.S. lags the rest of the English speaking world in freedom, it will gradually lag the rest of that world in wealth and power.
Article originally published on Forbes.com.