Below is the opening salvo of a long and carefully argued article by Greg Sheridan that reaches some dismal conclusions about the future of conservatism.
I am not so pessimistic for two reasons:
1). It is impossible to overestimate the Leftist talent for making a mess of things. And we are right in the middle of a huge mess: The cost of living crisis. It is a crisis in most of the Western world and Leftist governments in Australia and the USA are in the middle of it.
So far both those governments have fairly successfully avoided blame for it but as the years roll on with continual price rises, conservatives are going to be saying: "You have had 3 (or 4) years to fix this and you have failed. We need a new broom. So the conservatives will be back in almost regardless of what they say or do.
And Leftist unbridled spending IS the major cause of inflation so conservative fiscal restraint will ameliorate the cost crisis and gain credibility again.
2). Donald Trump may well get back in. And he has vowed to rip Leftist idiocies to shreds. And with a GOP Congress on his coat-tails he may do just that and re-establish conservative ideas as something to be reckoned with.
Whatever the result of the critical Aston by-election, conservative politics is in the midst of crippling, perhaps mortal, crisis within Australia, and around the Western and democratic world.
In Australia, conservatives hold office neither nationally nor in any mainland state or territory. Worse, they seem intellectually and politically exhausted, and don’t look as if they’re on the brink of posing a serious electoral challenge in any jurisdiction. Peter Dutton is a substantial politician but he is miles behind Anthony Albanese. Most Coalition state leaders are anonymous and ineffective.
But they’re in good company internationally. For some version of the same crisis is evident in most democratic nations from North America to Europe. There are a few exceptions but the tide is mostly out for conservatives. Of course, politics mostly runs in cycles. And conservative wisdom will be needed again, eventually.
But today conservative ideas don’t set the agenda. The conservative crisis is part of a larger crisis throughout Western civilisation. In time, the centre-left parties that rule will face their own crisis because without exception they are leading the nations they govern to live way beyond their means. They are also indulging ideological dynamics that are intensely destructive in the long term.
The last great conservative era was the 1980s. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and even Malcolm Fraser all led self-confident conservative governments. The world’s most authoritative moral figure was Pope John Paul II, a theological and social conservative and communism’s worst nightmare.
Compare today. Joe Biden and the Democrats rule in Washington, Albanese and Labor in Australia, Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives are more than 20 per cent behind Labour in Britain, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope, Francis, who, politically if not theologically, is of the global left. Conservative ideas motivate no reform movement, they are no longer the fizz and sparkle of intellectual life.