Today’s liberal infatuation with legislation and government spending to solve the world’s problems is neither liberal nor conservative. Morrison likes to call his government simply “pragmatic”.
Leaving aside the nature of the liberals’ political philosophy, or at least if they still have one, there is the question of the party as a “broad church”, which is an existential question beyond the inclinations of the leader of the party. .
Certainly, at the end of the day, political parties must somehow represent the views of the community. But that doesn’t automatically translate to a party’s entire philosophical center of gravity rotating one way or the other to accommodate the shifting political preferences of a handful of voters in a handful of seats that the party holds.
This is what happens to the Liberals. Somewhere along the line, principles matter. Very few Liberal MPs (and even fewer members of the Liberal branch) believe that “net zero” is good policy. The Liberals’ commitment to this is political, not principled – and Liberal MPs know it and voters know it.
While moderate liberals brag about their political victories and implore voters to keep moderates in their seats and thus stop the Liberal Party’s “rightward drift”, liberal conservatives wonder what they get out of this relationship. They certainly don’t have lower taxes or a smaller government.
If a Conservative Liberal MP in the middle of his busy campaign schedule took 10 minutes to read the latest draft of the new National Curriculum endorsed by the Morrison government and published this week, which requires students in Australian schools to learn how to develop their ‘eco -identity”, they will feel entitled to ask what the last nine years of a federal coalition government have served.
Too many Liberals believe that once an electorate is held by a Liberal MP, it must be held by Liberals in perpetuity and losing it is a kind of moral failure.
The truth is, however, that Wentworth or Kooyong are no more special than any of the other 149 seats in the House of Representatives. Robert Menzies did not found the Liberal Party to fight for the forgotten port mansions.
Electorates like Wentworth and Kooyong are liberal because the privileged wealthy once voted liberal. Now they vote Labor or Green or Teal. Of the four Victorian state seats in Kooyong, three are already held by the PLA.
Whatever the performance of the so-called teal independents, the 2022 federal election has highlighted a trend that is not going to reverse.
Inevitably, Australia will end up like the United States where the 10 wealthiest congressional constituencies are represented by Democrats.
New York’s 12th Congressional District covering eastern Manhattan has one of the highest per capita incomes of any district in the United States. In the 1950s, he was represented by a Republican. But the neighborhood has changed. In the 2020 election, he voted 82% Democrat and 16% Republican.
Eventually, Wentworth and Kooyong won’t even be marginal. Eventually, Liberal attempts to woo voters in Vaucluse and Hawthorn could be as futile as Republicans trying to win back Manhattan.