The elevation of Trump to the US presidency and the decline of primary votes for the two major parties in Australia, are symptomatic of the disenchantment, not with democracy per se, but with the economic malaise that goes with it. The rust belt in the US helped elect Trump because they have been dealt a bad hand by the trickle down economics begun under Ronald Reagan and which has continued under every president since. Pauline Hanson is a symptom of the same malaise as it afflicts Australia. This malaise is the increasing disparity between rich and poor, which is still increasing in Australia, and has shown an inexorable rise in the period from 2001 to 2011.
The reason that people are drifting to the minor parties is because the two major parties are unable to change to give the working and middle classes what they want. The reason that they cannot change? Because they have been purchased by corporate interests. As reported here a few days ago, the biggest donor to the Liberal Party is the Cormack Foundation, and organisation designed to fund the party, but which is owned by extremely wealthy businessmen, none of whom are elected officials. This is why the Liberal Party cannot change. It is because those businessmen have a very, very large vested interest in keeping the status quo. They want the rich to keep getting richer and to keep the poor and middle classes on the lowest wages they can get away with paying. That is part of the reason why governments always argue against increasing the minimum wage a few dollars a week, because it will ‘cost jobs’. Yet they never do anything about the astronomical increases in CEO’s salaries; just shrug their shoulders and state that it is something solely for the company to sort out.
Many will think that the Labor party, which gets a significant amount of its funding from various unions would be, at least in part, immune to this malaise. However, it is not. This is because it gets a significant amount of its money from the same or similar corporations as the Liberal Party. Like that party, it too has argued against raising the minimum wage and shrugged its shoulders at CEO’s millions.
Both parties have tried to bullshit the electorate, the Liberals with everything from terrorism to union thuggery, and the Labor Party with their gift from the Liberals, work choices. You know that when a politician says something about choice, he means precisely the opposite, whether it be work, union membership, medical insurance, education etc.
If we do not fix this problem of being run by parties who have been purchased by corporate money, then those parties will fade away and we will get to a state where the parliament will be made up of dozens of parties. However, as those parties become bigger, and they need more cash, they will also sell out to corporations and the cycle for each of those parties will repeat itself. The only way out of this mire is to take corporate money out of politics permanently. Let individuals donate directly to political parties, but no more than a few hundred dollars per annum, and make sure that no corporation can, for instance, get all of its thousands of employees to donate money to a particular party. This would require monitoring by an organisation such as an anti-corruption watchdog, like the NSW ICAC, which is given sufficient funding to fulfil such a task. If this does not happen, then the democracy we enjoy will be at risk.