||Issue No. 211||05 March 2004|
Interview: Baby Bust
Safety: Dust To Dust
Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
International: Bulk Bullies
History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Review: The Art Of Work
Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Saving The Planet
To Head Office first, and the war hero with a conscience will take on the deserter who loves playing army dress-ups. Bizarrely, it is the latter running on national security.
There is no doubt America is a very different place to the one that George Dubya seized control of via the dimpled chads four years ago. The attacks on New York sparked the War on Terror and the top-rating 'Get Saddam', a reality show that continues to run way after its scheduled sign-off date.
Glimpsing the first wave of Republican advertising this week, it is clear Bush will wrap himself in the flag, play up the fear factor and turn the vote into an auction on defence spending - spiced with a little wedge politics villifying gay marriage.
Sure the economy is on the skids, the health system is a joke and the gap between rich and poor is widening ever further but, hell, this is war and in wartime we all make sacrifices - unless we happen to own shares in Haliburton.
John Kerry was the stand-out candidate from the primaries seeing off the wooden Clark, the cheesy Edwards and the psychotic Dean, but he will have more bullets fired at him than he did in Nam - a Liberal from the north, a political insider and the ultimate attack 'soft on security'.
The ballot is eight months off and it will be interesting to see how much $140 million in Republican advertising can buy. My guess is that, despite the obvious superiority of the Democrat candidate, the bucks will be enough to buy another term.
In Branch Australia similar dynamics are at play, albeit on a smaller scale. Howard will play the 'tough on security line for all its worth - playing up border protection, the war on Iraq and the US alliance as his trump cards.
He too will out spend his opponents with ads that make us feel scared of foreigners, scared of the future, but - most of all - scared of change.
That is the trump card that conservative incumbents always have: (a) progressive candidates tend to come to power on a wave of optimism: think Whitlam, think Hawke (b) the government of the day has the levers at hand to stymie such feelings of goodwill.
Now that it has found a leader who can talk and turn his head at the same time, Labor has a chance to challenge this worldview, but the difficulty of the task should not be underestimated.
Mark Latham has grasped the public's attention with talk of the real pressures facing families, from reading to kids to mentoring boys to working community solutions to problems, the Latham model of social democratic government is tapping a vein.
But how resilient is this dream of a better life to the upcoming mantra 'don't trust them with your mortgage, don't trust them with national security' will dictate the outcome of the election.
It's a sorry world where the politics of fear is such a potent tool; the next 12 months will truly be a test of our better instincts.
PS: Apologies to subscribers who have not been receiving Workers Online via email. The gremlin in the machine has now been fixed.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online