Sam Dastyari: The Left's Reaction To Barnaby Joyce Is Why We Keep Losing
Barnaby Joyce’s comments yesterday are a demonstration of why the left keeps losing elections.
Well, not his comments per se, but the response to them.
Barnaby Joyce made the decision to support an increase in Newstart. He did so by comparing his plight as a politician earning over $200,000 per year to those struggling to survive. He appeared out of touch and foolish.
But he was a convert -- someone the left should have welcomed. They should have pointed out that Joyce was wrong to try and link Newstart to a welfare card and made a few jokes about him (there's an endless supply of those). Then they should have thanked him for adopting our position.
But that's not what happened.
In what was nothing more than a circular firing squad, progressives took to social media and the airwaves to piss on Barnaby from a great height. They made it all but certain no other conservatives would adopt his position.
That was stupid and gratuitous -- a product of short-term thinking.
It also explains why the left loses more political fights than it wins.
If you support an increase in Newstart, you should also support a conservative politician that comes out in favour of increasing it, regardless of their personal motives.
But that's the big difference between the conservative and progressive forces in Australia. Conservatives are hugely effective at building winning coalitions. Progressives keep spitting in the face of anyone who isn’t "pure".
It was Gough Whitlam who famously said, “the impotent are pure”.
Well, Barnaby Joyce is certainly not impotent (isn’t that why he claims to be struggling on $200K?) and he’s obviously not pure.
My issue with Barnaby’s comments is that the Newstart increase shouldn’t be linked to a welfare card. But I completely support him coming out and arguing it should be increased. And, if you are a progressive, you should too.
So what if he's a rich guy who thinks his circumstances are comparable to someone on Newstart? Who cares if this is clearly part of an attempt to rehabilitate himself for an eventual stint in the leadership of the National Party. Take a win where you can get it.
I’m just sick of getting beaten by the conservatives. I’m sick of them getting the upper hand because the left is often more interested in using the Internet to dump on people who might help our causes just because they don’t meet our purity tests.
The left should take the support of the religious community on workers' rights even though we disagree with them on abortion and marriage equality. We should partner with tax dodging multinational billionaires if it can help end slavery. That’s what winning looks like. It’s about building a coalition on an issue and running with it.
Because let's not kid ourselves -- our opponents play harder than we do. The conservatives will take support where they can get it. They will build majorities from anywhere. And they keep winning. They keep passing laws. They keep forming governments.
How does the left respond? They spend a few hours on the Internet pointing out all that is wrong with Barnaby (and believe me, the list is long). They attack any progressive who sides with him and then wonder why they aren’t winning the bigger debate in Australia.
I’m tired of losing. Every round. Every fight. Every possible recruit.
I'm tired of being beaten.
And fellow progressives: you should be too.
Featured Image: AAP