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Held to ransom by the 15 per cent

February 18, 2022

Opinion by Greg Ray

Blame the 15 per cent.

I’ve been told that’s about the percentage of people in our society who are actively pleased to discriminate against others, hate the idea of ever sharing anything outside of their immediate family and will keenly embrace the politics of cruelty so long as they think they will be on the safe side of the hobnailed boot, the pepper spray and the riot squad.

It’s probably not really 15 per cent. Not to start with, anyway. It’s probably less than 10 per cent if your starting point is a decent society. But once you start the drift to the gutter then I think the proportion blows out pretty quickly. Cruel policies increase the number of poor and desperate. Some people with progressive ideals react by blaming the policies and demanding improvements but lots of others take the easy path and blame the victims. “You’re poor because you deserve to be poor. God doesn’t like you, obviously. You aren’t willing to work hard enough. People of your race are just plain useless”, etc, etc.

So let’s say in Australia now it’s 15 per cent – including your prosperity gospel fake Christians who just want to believe they are chosen and special and let the devil take the hindmost, literally; the poor saps sucked in by Murdochian propaganda and social media echo chambers where all they can hear is confident-sounding turkeys telling them that selfishness will save them all.

In some respects it might be said that this 15 per cent rules our country.

Because about 40 per cent of people will vote blue party and about 40 per cent will vote red party, no matter what. A lot of those voters are rusted-on and don’t listen to anything. They just vote from habit and that’s the end of it. The exact proportions might vary a bit, but it’s roughly that, every time.

So the 15 per cent hold the keys to the kingdom, if a party can win their approval. And the way a party does that is by having the kinds of policies that appeal to the 15 per cent. Slag off minorities, suck up to religious bigots and lick the boots of the big business types who will help them win in return for future favours.

The yellow billionaire’s party

We can probably thank One Nation for awakening the power of the 15 per cent in Australian politics. Its whining racist rabble-rousing was music to the ears of the minority of blue voters who wished their party was meaner and more cruel. By threatening to peel away some of the blue party’s rusted-on 40 per cent it persuaded the blues to follow it towards the gutter and of course it dragged the reds in that direction too.

Now we have the atrocious yellow billionaire’s party talking directly to the 15 per cent and claiming them as its own. This surely suits the blues, since the further they steer their own party into the gutter the more of their humane and thoughtful voters they risk losing. This way, yellow takes the primary votes and funnels them to blue without blue having to spout the more extreme rhetorical and policy garbage the yellow voters crave. The yellow party rants against both blue and red, but it is unmistakably a force for helping blue prevail. Indeed, the 15 per cent are easy meat for the wealthy and their propagandists. Even more gullible than the rest of us, they will swallow any humbug provided they are told they are the real folk who deserve more from life.

As for the red party, well they have a tough time under this scenario, don’t they?

A chunk of their traditional vote is already peeling off to the greens at the opposite side of the road from the billionaire yellows, and although the preferences mostly come back to red I suspect it’s not as sure a flow as that from yellow back to blue. And the more the red party goes chasing the vote of the decisive 15 per cent, the more some of its own rusted-on voters lose heart and look elsewhere for progressive policies. What can red do? Stand its ground and wait for the tide to turn? Cave in and become mean too? Meanwhile the big business media slaughters it day after day with anti-red headlines and pro-blue feel-good humbug.

Maybe you don’t like red or green. Maybe you like blue. Doesn’t matter. Chances are you are one of the great majority of Australians who really do believe in that old “fair go” and think that looking after the poor and the sick and the old is exactly what a good society should do.

But even if that’s you, a fundamentally decent blue voter, the 15 per cent has got your party by the throat and you’ll have to live with the policies it dictates. Sad days for decent people.

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