I unfortunately have had a bit of trouble with Internet availability for the past few days, so this post is a bit old, but here goes. Over on his blog, John Quiggin had an interesting take on the Republican Party's (and, therefore, American politics in general) move to the left following their shellacking in the 2013 elections. Most notably, what it will mean for politics around the world:

If US politics does shift to the left, what effects will that have elsewhere? Even the most liberal Democrats would be centrist at best in most countries, and their most radical goals (single-payer health care, a progressive income tax, parental leave and so on) would be uncontroversial in most places, so there won’t be much direct effect. On the other hand, in Australia and other English speaking countries, a large slab of the right wing gets its talking points from the US Republican bubble, via the Murdoch press, and look to an idealised version of the US as a free-market model. If the Repubs are discredited at home, that will create some problems for their followers abroad.

But I have a few thoughts to add. For starters, I don't think it is correct that “liberal” Democrats (I am assuming Quiggin is using the American definition of “liberal” as being left of centre) would be considered centrist in “most” countries. Infact, I would argue that the entire Australian political spectrum (barring a few nutjobs) would fit within the confines of the Democratic Party itself: Bob Katter's Australia Party and some of the more “out there” members of the Coalition are hardly more neoliberal (read: closet protectionists), neoconservative or socially conservative than the so-called “Blue Dog Democrats” (like the now retired Gabrielle Giffords); and even the Australian Greens have nothing on the likes of Democrat Barnie Frank (who has recently retired from the House, but served as an openly gay politician and was a strong opponent of the Banks while on the House Financial Services Committee). As a result, the “most liberal Democrat” would not really be a centrist in Australia, but a garden variety Green MP. If anything the centrist Democrats would be considered Centrist in many other countries.

And secondly, the idea that a leftward movement by the Republican Party is leading to any similar movement in Australia is also questionable. In fact, Australia is actually seeing a rise in fringe, “tea-party-esque” political parties this election cycle. Unlike the Republican Party, which is belatedly and spectacularly responding to the rising economic importance, social importance, and political clout of immigrant populations, Australia has seen the formation of anti-multicultural and anti-immigration parties like Rise Up Australia*. If anything, rather than learn from the mistakes of the Republicans, their followers in Australia are set to repeat them.

 

*edited 25/02/13: it has been pointed out to me that the Stable Population Party is not an anti-multicultural or anti-immigration party. A full correction can be found here.