I pre-polled early this year, as I will be out of the country on election day. Usually I can’t be bothered engaging with the leafleteers because of the emotional energy required to have a conversation, however, I decided this time to have a chat with the Labor Party member handing out flyers.
It quickly brought back the nostalgia of my Marxist days. A time when I passionately retweeted Socialist Alternative posts on social media, religiously fought for social justice, and was eager for everyone to be aware of Oxfam’s claim that the top ‘once per cent’ controlled and rigged the rest of the economy.
During my third year at University studying politics, I realised that one of my tutors was different from all the others. He wasn’t just giving us readings from Karl Marx and Max Weber —he challenged me to read wider, think critically, and question why people think the way they do. This utterly transformed my understanding of the political sphere.
As a result of my conversations with him, and through the reading of de facto ‘forbidden texts,’ such as the writings of Thomas Sowell, I came to understand the truthfulness of the old adage: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” And what follows are three of the primary reasons I switched from being a progressive to a conservative.
1. Australia isn’t a Terrible Country
Those on the left—particularly the hard-left—have quite successfully imbibed in Australians a disdain for our own culture and values. But contrary to the narrative we constantly hear in the media, the education system, and especially social media, Australia isn’t a racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist nation that hates the poor. In fact, when I stopped and really thought about it, I haven’t met anyone who fit these categories.
What’s more, I quickly realised that there is a lot to love about the country in which I have been raised: representative democracy, religious freedom and the separation of powers in government.
Our principles are derived from our Judeo-Christian heritage, and they have led to the longest stretch of prosperity and freedom that the world has ever seen. They have been a shield against the dictatorial and tyrannical philosophies that have guided nations such as China and North Korea.
2. I Value Human Life
The infamous Joseph Goebbels—the propaganda minister for Nazi Germany—once said:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the [truthful] consequences of the lie. It [is] important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the moral enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
If I say that I value human life, but can’t even stand up for the most vulnerable people in society — who literally don’t have a voice — how could I ever support a party that advocates for abortion as a ‘right’? The lie of an abortion being a ‘women’s right’ has inoculated us to believe that a baby isn’t a human being.
3. Policy Prescription ≠ Policy Outcome
One of the greatest lessons I learned studying politics at university was that the intention of a policy is not the same as the outcome of the policy.
Here are just two examples:
- An policy marketed as an ‘anti-bullying’ initiative — such as Safe Schools — is not actually primarily concerned about eliminating bullying, but rather with normalising perverted sexuality.
- The Close the Gap campaign failed to make any considerable changes to the health and social inequities faced by Indigenous people, despite having over $4.6 billion in funding.
Well-intentioned policies not only often turn out to be a waste of money, but frequently exacerbate the problems they seek to solve. In fact, I’m sure many Labor Party members are incredibly generous and lovely people; some of whom are my closest friends. However, there some in the higher tiers of the Labor Party who are crafting policies that appear to be virtuous on the surface, but deep down have been dangerously misled.
I fear that this is the case with Australian politics these days, and unless millennials have the integrity and courage to stand up against the ostensibly ‘virtuous,’ we shall continue to descend pitfalls that many have fallen prey to throughout history.
As Winston Churchill supposedly said:
If you are not a [progressive] at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35, you have no brain.
James Jeffery graduated from the University of Sydney in 2018 and is now an MTS apprentice with Cornerstone Presbyterian Church.
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