The Left Always Wins

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The dark can’t last forever, the sun always rises and the light always shines through. That’s the result of the Earth’s endless 24-hourly rotation as it ceaselessly orbits the sun at 30 kilometres per second. And that’s politics too. At least in a liberal-democracy.

Opinions and policy change, people change, votes change and, as always, we sit on the proverbial rope in the ongoing tug-of-war between light and dark, left and right.

And the tug-of-war won’t end. At least not from our perpetual vantage point of the present. From where we sit now and where we will sit in the unforeseeable future, the battle between the left and the right will continue. As it should. That’s democracy. All hail democracy!

If we reach a place where one side has entirely battered the other into complete submission, then we’ve lost sight of what was truly important and reached a place we really don’t want to be. Vibrant debate should always remain the cornerstone.

So the war rages on. But here’s the thing: although the fight is infinite, there is only ever one winner. And that winner is the left.

While bouts of conservatism are unavoidable (cases in point: the horrendous Abbott Government and the 12 long years of Howard), the left always returns. I’m sure you could say the same of the conservatives, that the Rudd and Gillard Governments were merely a blip in conservative rule, however this would be missing the larger point.

When we attempt to remove ourselves from our present and zoom out to observe things with a wider lens, it becomes quite clear that conservatives are engaged in a losing battle. If you’re a leftist, you’ve undoubtedly picked the winning team.

What I mean to say is this: progress is inevitable. Sure, conservatives fight to stem the flow of the tide, but the tide cannot be stopped. And neither can progress.

American author Chuck Klosterman writes, “Everyone knows history is written by the winners, but that cliché misses a crucial detail: Over time, the winners are always the progressives. Conservatism can only win in the short term, because society cannot stop evolving (and social evolution inevitably dovetails with the agenda of those who see change as an abstract positive). It might take seventy years, but it always happens eventually.”

At the moment it seems like a pretty awful time to be a progressive. In the big English-speaking democracies, conservatives are in power in all bar none: Fine Gael are the major coalition partner in the Irish Dáil, the Republicans control both houses of the United States Congress with a large majority, and the parliaments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada are governed by the Conservative Party, the National Party, and the Conservative Party, respectively. And, alas, let us not forget the wonderful conservative Liberal-National Coalition right here at home. Please excuse me for a moment while I sigh/curl up on the floor in the fetal position and beg of the universe, “Why?!”

But we leftists should fear not this English-speaking conservative domination because, just as global warming and climate-change cannot be justified by local weather patterns and momentary fluctuations in temperature, long-term political trends cannot be identified by the government or (once more, *sigh*) governments of the day. The conservatives have the power now, but progress steadily marches on even with them at the helm.

Conservative governments also play another incredibly important role in advancing the cause of the left: they inspire people. When conservatives take power and implement draconian policies, conscientious people who have become complacent take action (exhibits A and B: the countless protests against the Government and the thousands of people that have joined the ALP since Tony Abbott became Prime Minister).

Aren’t convinced yet? Let’s look at some of the most significant social reforms of the past: secularism and religious pluralism, women’s suffrage, the abolition of slavery, the recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Census, no-fault divorce, the decriminalisation of homosexuality…just to name a few.

What were once wildly contentious and divisive topics viewed reasonable only by those most progressive, fade with the passing of time to become non-issues, unworthy of debate in the mainstream. Each of these “massive” societal changes were seen as polarising in their present, but evolve to be catcalls of only the most extremely right-wing conservatives (or the clearly deranged) in ours.

It has been said that conservative governments can sometimes do more than progressive governments, by bringing their conservative base along with them. This may well be true, people tend to prefer being pulled along slowly rather than violently pushed.

However, quite obviously, a good-quality shove is absolutely crucial more than every once in a while. Not to mention the fact that the leaders of our nation should be doing precisely that: leading. The left lead. We have vision. It’s who we are.

As time, democracy, and politics carry on, have faith as a leftist, have faith in progress. No one in their right mind is arguing for a return to the days of those six then-controversial issues and, sometime in the not-too-distant future, we will live in a society that sees the redistribution of wealth as essential for fairness and equity, that recognises a woman’s right to choose as inarguable, that values same-sex marriage as entirely regular, that is powered by renewable energy, that is built on sustainable jobs, and that sees the education and lifting of those least-affluent as the most important investment a nation can make. It won’t be tomorrow, it may not even be in seventy years, but it will happen.

The dark can’t last forever, the sun always rises and the light always shines through. And as I’ve recently discovered: the light doesn’t just shine through, it beats back the dark.

Did you know that due to indirect illumination, on average an Earth-day is longer than an earth night? Daytime is approximately 14 minutes longer on the equator around the time of the equinoxes. Not that this is particularly relevant or has any actual bearing on the state of global politics, but it makes for a nice metaphor.

In the end, no matter how long it takes, the crux of it is: the left always wins.


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