Did Australians learn nothing from the US election?
IN asserting that voters are somehow stupid, those elitists on the Left ridiculing more than 50 per cent of Australians seem to miss the enduring damage they're doing to their cause in the long run, writes David Penberthy
He was holding a clipboard and asked for a moment of my time.
"Sir, would you like to sign this petition to protest against the illegal occupation of the White House by the racist fascist Donald Trump?" he asked.
I had a quiet chuckle and told him that, while President Trump wasn't my cup of tea either, there seemed little point in my signing given I wasn't a US citizen.
Beyond that, I politely observed that I could see little point to the petition anyway given that, whether you like him or not, Donald Trump had won the election in a landslide that barely anyone on the US liberal Left saw coming.
The people who voted - in their droves - for Donald Trump were the same people whom his establishment opponent Hillary Clinton disparaged in such elitist fashion during the 2016 campaign as "a basket of deplorables".
With that one appalling comment, Clinton encapsulated the incomprehension and disdain of the affluent, Left-leaning political class towards the aspirations and anxieties of the laid-off auto worker, the financially strapped retiree and the low-income family who worries principally about paying for their home, safety in their neighbourhood and attends church once a week.
In Australia since about 8pm last Saturday, it has been open season on our own "deplorables", as Clinton herself might put it were she asked to reflect on the fact that primary support for Australia's version of the Democrats, the ALP, has now fallen to just one in three voters.
This is not a generalised sledge, as there are many smart and decent people on the Left of politics, and in the media, who are trying to think honestly and openly about where things went so terribly wrong for Labor last weekend.
But there are others for whom the answer is simple. It's because Australians are dumb. It's because Australians are racists and bigots, homophobes and Islamophobes, and too self-interested to think about anything other than a tax cut or the value of their home.
Much was made in some circles during the campaign of the pro-Liberal bias of News Corp journalists such as Andrew Bolt and presenters on Sky After Dark.
Whatever you think of their journalism, it is worth noting that, since Saturday, some journalists on the other side of the ideological divide have declared a national period of mourning over the re-election of the Morrison Government.
Lisa Wilkinson, of The Project, penned an open letter to the PM where she declared, somewhat audaciously, on behalf of the entire nation that "we are all a little broken now".
The most sneering comment of all came from the ABC's Jonathan Green, who - in an act of catharsis that was liked by more than 3600 like-minded snobs - put it all down to the miserable intellectual qualities of the average Australian voter. "The repeated lesson in this country is never to underestimate its capacity for smallness. A lucky country full of the unexceptional, riding their luck."
Unexceptional, deplorable, call them what you will, I'm moving to New Zealand to get away from these bogans.
Aside from the woe-is-us mournfulness and the direct sledging of voters as fools, there has also been a hilarious and rich vein of head-scratching mock-analysis by people who found it simply incomprehensible that Scott Morrison could even come close to winning the election.
The best example of these came was in the progressive online news magazine Slate, tweeted with a link that epitomised the Left's confusion. It read simply: "Well, that was unexpected". Of course it was unexpected, because the people who were doing all the expecting don't ever talk to any average people, aside perhaps from the cleaner who comes over once a fortnight to tidy their house in Balmain or Brunswick.
I have long had a theory that the best way to work out what Australia thinks is to watch an episode of Q&A.
When the audience is cheering and hollering in mad approval at a point one of the panellists has just made, you can rest assured that the opposite sentiment is the one held most widely and strongly in Australia.
In this election campaign, the best vehicle for this brand of reverse analysis was Twitter. In the lead-up to polling day, the consensus across the Twittersphere was that the Liberals were so extreme, so craven in their use of race, so one-dimensional with their economic tax focus, so embarrassingly anti-science on climate change, and Morrison himself a tongue-speaking suburban dork, that there was no way modern Australia would grant them and him another term.
And when the unexpected happened - their unexpected, that is - they responded overwhelmingly with the utmost confusion, and the plainest form of abuse.
In asserting that the voters are somehow stupid, these people are themselves too dim to realise that the elitist nature of their language is so powerful that it will do enduring damage to the cause of the Left in Australia.
In the US, Clinton's "deplorables" sledge has done so much residual political harm that it will still resonate with the white working class at next year's election, which on current trends Donald Trump will win.
In the same way here, where every time someone unloads on the voters for getting it wrong, or denounces Scott Morrison as illegitimate, they are doing the best political work possible - for the conservative cause.