How there can be an underlying stability behind policy changes
I put up a post recently in which I commented on how political parties can change their policies, sometimes into a reversal of their previous policies. The classic example was how the Communist party of the USA changed in an instant from Pro-Nazi to anti-Nazi when Hitler ceased to be an ally of Russia and attacked it instead
But I also said that the policy change can disguise an underlying consistent orientation. In the case of the CPUSA that orientation was no secret. As Communists they supported Hitler when he was allied with Communist Russia and did so for that reason only. They were consistently Comunist in the underlying orientation behind their changing policies.
I would like to give a less obvious example as well, however: The example of Australian attitudes to immigration.
Although all white Australian are descendants of immigrants, Australians have never been generally pro-immigration. People "like us" (British) were acceptable but not others. This was clearly seen in the first years of the 20th century, when the "White Australia" policy was enacted. No Chinese or blacks were allowed to immigrate and even continental Europeans were looked on askance.
But, as I said previously, circumstances alter cases and when a good reason to loosen up presented itself, attitudes became more permissive. The new circumstance was WWII, when the Japanese attacked some targets in Australia. This drew attention to how the small population of Australia made the country hard to defend. This led to acceptance of a new policy to take in as immigrants any whites at all, not only the British.
So a perception of foreigners as troublesome lay behind the original white Australia policy but that motive was overriden by the experience of WWII. It came to seem imperative to expand Australia's population for reasons of national defence. And that led eventually to the total abolition of the white Australia policy (by the conservative Holt government) with selected Asians starting to be admitted.
And then came the boat people, initially geniune refugees from the Vietnam war. They were all accepted on humanitarian grounds. After a while, however, various people from the Middle East started to arrive uninvited on Australian shores in ramshackle converted fishing boats -- also claiming to be refugees.
It was clear from the beginning that they were not refugees, however. Almost all had refuge in some other country, often Pakistan, before arriving in Australia. And they usually destroyed their identity documents before arriving so that the Australian government would have difficulty in checking their stories.
That brought out all the slumbering concern about foreigners in Australians. With most of the immigrants likely to be unskilled parasitic crooks who would not make any positive contribution to the country, hostility to them arose. Most of them went straight on to welfare and stayed there. As a result, the boat people are now effectively kept out by the Australian navy, making Australia one of the few advanced countries with effective controls against illegal immigration.
So Australian policy has flipped from anti-immigration to pro-immigration and back to anti-immigration. But underlying it all the time was a perception that immigarnts were in various ways a detriment to the existing population. The underlying thinking and motivation did not change even though the policy did.
So does that mean that all Australians are racists? Going by the loose definitions used by the Left it does. But opposition to immigration is not irrational. Adding whole glob of new arrivals does tend to take away something from the existing population. Adding whole glob of new arrivals to an existing set of infrastructure is always going to generate some problems. It is going to overcrowd schools, hospitals and roads that were built for a smaller population. And the various waves of immigration have put Australia in exactly that position. Traffic, school and hospital congestion has become notably worse in recent years.
So the opposition to immigration was simply a realistic defence of people's existing good life, a fear of change that was well warranted. And, as I have previously pointed out, that is the normal reason behind conservative opposition to Leftist proposals for change. They may seem changeable in the policies they will support but their underlying motives remain broadly the same
I might note in passing that Australia does take in a large number of legal immigrants. People who have been vetted in advance for their likelihood of making a good adjustment to life in Australia are accepted, though the number accepted is in dispute. So a country that welcomes large numbers of arrivals from all over the world is hardly racist.