The politics of absolutism

Whilst observing the play of politics there is one theme that consistently arises.  And that is that conservatism generally manages themes and messages around ‘absolutes’.   

Dealing in ‘absolutes’ is designed to polarise an issue across the media to person divide in a way that attaches to the broadest segment of electors as possible.  It deals with the assumption that a certain segment of the population is ‘fixed’ to each side of politics according to their individual circumstances (a rule with exceptions).  There is a variable in between largely consisting of people who adopt a casual interest in politics and public debate.  Dealing with ‘absolutes’ appears to be able to tap into the ’emotive’ strands of ‘decisiveness’ and a clear distinctions in terms of ‘tolerance’.  

In the closing of this electoral cycle there have been two ‘absolutes’ that have been fundamentally challenged.

In the period prior to  around 2006 the Prime Minister consistently ran the line that adopting alternative suggestions to tackle climate change risked the prosperity of Australia’s economy and the protection of jobs.  John Howard’s rejection of Kyoto might have been partly as a result of following the United States, but it was also part of emphasising the ‘absolutism’ of maintaining economic prosperity and jobs.  All other messages relating to the environment were balanced and managed within this paradigm.  When climate change was impressed upon a large enough bloc of voters to exercise substantive influence, Howard attempted to run the line that conservatives are best able to manage climate change whilst maintaining a strong economy and jobs.  The problem is, making this transition is a very difficult process.   

The second ‘absolute’ under challenge is the connection between conservatism and ‘working families’ and ‘battlers’.  The now scaled back industrial relations laws have diluted the perception that the Prime Minister under no circumstances would move to reduce the protection of workers.  It counters the ‘absolute’ theme built up and originating from the ‘For All of Us’ 1996 campaign.


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