The bodgies and widgies of the 50’s with their frightening teenaged Rock and Roll rebellion have become the easily terrified aging Baby Boomers of today.
Brought up in a post-war boom where everything material came easily, the now aging demographic “bump” is leading a faux-conservative political movement today. Conservative in wanting less taxation and faux in wanting the welfare to which they have become accustomed. Conservative in not wanting the undeserving poor to get undeserved welfare but willing to give the rich huge tax breaks.
Taught by their parents that Bob Menzies and his Liberal Party was the font of all political knowledge that Baby Boomer loyalty has continued down through the years with a small time-out for some teenaged angst during the 70’s when flower power ruled and they voted for Gough Whitlam. Their lack of certainty showed when they voted him out of office. Electorally running back to Mummy and Daddy and suffering from collective opuloconfundosapiensis*.
After a decade of ALP governments during the late 80’s and early 90’s, with life going well, the Boomers and the GenXers combined to bring back the comfortable Liberal leader they thought would continue the good times. Even as things turned bad, they were comforted by the headlines which explained how much worse things would be under Labor.
The decline and fall of early 21st century Labor is not a matter of good and bad leadership or good or bad governance.
It isn’t all about today’s ALP which Bob Menzies would recognise and be proud to join. It may not even be about today’s Liberal Party which he would recognise as one of those dangerous groups which went close to destroying Europe during his lifetime.
It is about a demographic “bump” which is a result of WW2. With a majority of the vote, Boomers and Xers control the electorate.
So why have they swung so far to the right?
There is a culture of fear and outrage being promoted by the mass media, the shock jocks and by Tony Abbott. The over-50’s are a voting cohort which has seen so much change and uncertainty in their lives that they have reached the point of saying, “Enough is enough!” They genuinely feel the fear and outrage, regardless of its reality.
Conservatives tend to be more closed, fixed and certain in their views.While not every conservative has “closed and fixed” views on every one of the following, as a group, these weaknesses provide plenty of fodder for those who would cynically exploit them
The rapid changes in our society have forced the scared, the frightened and the tired into a rigid acceptance of beliefs which required no thought but provide a solid certainty. Christianity in any of its forms is the current preferred belief in the Western world although for some decades, “New Age” beliefs have provided a convenient hideaway from reality.
This move to Christianity is noteworthy for its “fundamentalism”. A return, not to the first century of its existence but to the 1950’s. The religion of the Baby Boomers parents. Or is it the imagined religion of their parents. The one which violently condemned homosexuality, which saw women as chattels, which was terrified of “The Yellow Peril” from the North, the one which was against abortion, birth control and eating meat on Fridays. A strange mix of Catholicism and Protestantism.
Science with its “Theories” and seemingly constantly changing world view is disturbing to conservatives. Once they are used every day, new scientific developments tend to be looked on as something which “always has been”. Despite this there is a growing suspicion of Basic Science, which is where new fields are discovered. Without Basic Science, there would be no computers, no nuclear energy. This has increased since the time of Senator Proxmire.
Science is not only receiving bad press at the moment, scientists are being mocked and belittled in modern pop culture. “The Big Bang Theory” is one such case. Total misfits whose socially inept misadventures create laughter and a sense of “who would want to be a nerd?” Another example is the new series produced by the Wallace and Gromit group, “The Pirates”. Originally entitled “The Pirates, in an Adventure with Scientists” in Britain, it has been retitled “The Pirates, Band of Misfits” for distribution in the USA. Anything to do with science is a bad vibe in marketing in the USA.
A combination of the move to a more conservative religious world-view together with the distrust of science has led to a major dismissal of the Theory of Evolution. We are men and women and we were created by God. Probably just 6000 years ago. All talk of millions of years in evolution and geology and even cosmology are just silly! The Bible says so.
More disturbing is the effect this attitude is having on the future of our world. Climate change has the potential to destroy civilisation as we know it, yet almost nothing is being done because it is a change too many to that already terrified over 50’s group who have collectively “done an ostrich!”
The one area where science has been accepted is in the world of the Internet. Conservatives spread their disbelief in science in cyber-space. Social media is filled with their beliefs, hopes and demands. All developed using a science they do not trust. The cognitive dissonance caused by this is on display for all to see.
As far as economics are concerned, the Menzies Effect is still strong. Life was comfortable under his Liberal Government so our savings will be safer with a Liberal Government. This is despite the recorded facts which are best shown in Australia’s Beautiful Inspiring Set of Numbers (BISONs).
A political party which is able to tap into the fears and insecurities of this voting block will have an automatic success. Unfortunately for Australia, it will remain so until enough of the long-lived Bodgies and Widgies have fallen off the perch to restore a balance to the electorate.