MAGA in the LNP?

What is the consequence of the chaos at the Capitol for democratic right-wing politics? Over a hundred Republican congressional representatives voted with Trump against certifying Biden’s election victory. Bob Carr wrote that the Republican party is now beholden to nationalist populism, “terrified of Trump appearing in their states and mobilising his supporters against them.” 

But how far has right-wing populism spread into Australia’s LNP? Their responses to Trump’s ramshackle coup attempt present a diagnostic moment.

The Trump Supporters in the Australian government

The most full-blown QAnon discourse in the Australian government comes from Craig Kelly, MP for the very white, southern Sydney electorate of Hughes, which is next door to Morrison’s Cronulla-centred seat. Kelly published the following smoke-and-mirrors Facebook post in response to the events at the Capitol.

A Facebook post by an Australian member of parliament.

In a similar vein was George Christensen, climate denialist, QLD-based sporter of “Make Australia Great Again” hats, and (aspirationally) a nemesis of “the globalists.” Christensen shared a link suggesting that it was actually “antifa” who stormed Congress. Like Kelly, he ambiguously suggested the whole thing was some sort of sophisticated deep-state deep-fake.

But what about Scott Morrison himself? Morrison was criticised on Thursday for his minimal criticism of Trump. His call for an orderly transition was needed, though well below the statesmanship of, for instance, German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass, who commented, “Inflammatory words turn into violent acts – on the steps of the Reichstag, and now in the Capitol.”

On Thursday, Wayne Swan criticised “the Trumpification of the Liberal Party under Morrison,” while Turnbull told AusbizTV, “Morrison hasn’t had an issue that he’s been at odds with Trump about.” 

Yet Morrison’s response to the events at the Capitol it is beyond any ideology. It is simply Morrison’s modus operandi: play a dead bat to any matter requiring high principle and commitment, give non-responses on issues that aren’t the day’s talking points, control the news cycle, and keep leading the polls.

That’s the nature and the aim of the Liberals’ marketer-in-chief. We shouldn’t be surprised when he has nothing momentous to say as a national leader in historic times.