Cory Bernardi has done the unthinkable; he has defected from the Liberal party to form his own political party Australian Conservatives.
It has been suggested by Treasurer Scott Morrison and others that he has betrayed the Liberal party. Is this true? Probably. It forces one to contemplate that question though, of who is more important: your fellow party? Morrison suggested beforehand that it would be wrong to the party and wrong to the people who elected Bernardi. I agree with the first point: the party would have spent time and money on Bernardi, and so this would sting – Cory himself admitted it was a difficult decision. As for it being wrong by the people; I don’t think so. A comment made by Morrison suggested that citizens elect a representative because of the party they belong to. Maybe a lot do; but really individuals should be not only be informed about the convictions and aspirations of a candidate, but they should make it their business to base their decisions on this criteria. I think that the idea of politicians’ representation of citizens as an individual should take precedence over representation of citizens as a member of a certain party.
In any rate, putting principles such as allegiance aside, the defection sends a much needed message to supporters of status quo politics – to politicians and laypersons alike but especially politicians – that the leftist mob on social media (seemingly in perpetual protest) and in the traditional media are not the only ones who should be feared; who should be listened to.
It gives some semblance of legitimacy to democracy, by saying that as politicians you can’t just continually appease the left. For too long political issues have been skirted because of intimidation of the masses, the mobs – or what Cory calls the vocal minority. Although differing philosophically from Trump, Bernardi is alike in that he helps to bring home that idea that traditional majoritarian democracy is something worth enshrining. There are threats to legitimacy anyway with democracy in regards to whether or not a person can legitimately represent a larger number of people than they could ever get opinions from on even one issue, never mind the myriad of decisions which are made in between the only act of actual democracy which occurs ever four years (or every three years according to whether a PM calls it early): when citizens like you and I write some numbers on a piece of paper. A discussion like no other I’ve read is by a short book published originally some many decades ago by Paul Robert Wolff: In Defense of Anarchism.
Bernardi’s movement signifies that a politician is actually willing to call out the tyranny of the left, with its intimidation. The list looms long, where opposing views are denounced and the persons making them proclaimed to be bad people. For example, to name but a few issues where the left has a stranglehold: gay marriage, gender theories, aboriginal recognition and treaties, climate change, free speech (in particular the repeal of section 18c). This is not to say that all conservatives and people of centre-right politics hold the same views. The point is that there is a current trend to be shouted down and have debate shut down if you have anything other than assent to express regarding these above mentioned issues.
What good will Bernardi’s decision do, and what will be its implications? Who will join Cory? Perhaps he will just be another negotiator in the upper house and that’s it.
George Christensen has suggested that perhaps the best thing to do would have been for the Liberals to start to reconnect with their base; this smacks of a cover up of the same inauthenticity that has been at the heart of Cory’s grievances. And he’s not wrong for being upset. Reconnecting with the base smacks of trying to merely retain votes; like a dog who has run away and been eventually found, and so its owner has had to put a leash on it to stop it from running away again. That is what Bernardi and sensible persons would equate with the status quo. The country – and it seems, the world – needs convictioned politicians, ones who aren’t afraid of criticising the left and political correctness. Cory, it seems, is someone who wants to fill that void with conviction, as opposed to filling that void to secure support from the electorate. Cory Bernardi, it seems, has actual conviction. If nothing else, it will benefit politics if he reinvigorates conservatives, if it helps to remove the negative connotations from the word conservative, and turns it into a virtue for those inclined toward the centre-right of politics.
Bernardi can’t do it on his own though; and (although vital) he needs more than just the support of the electorate. He needs comrades in parliament if he is to effect any of this change which many so desire.