Abbott Derangement Syndrome: A Warning from the Antipodes

The Australian experience of recent years should stand as a warning to the new American administration. My latest piece for the Connor Post.

Tony Abbott is a politician who, while certainly not without his faults, inspires in his enemies a level of hatred that is little short of deranged. A devastating campaigner who despatched a lacklustre opposition, he assumed government in a landslide victory in 2013. The reaction of his enemies was to ramp the opposition beyond fever pitch. Abbott’s very success became an intolerable affront to the self-appointed moral guardians of Australian society. Outrage mounted on outrage, almost all invented mostly out of the fevered imaginations of the political left. If this scenario sounds familiar to American readers, it should.

Exclusive for the Connor Post

As the cry-bully left first collapsed into disbelieving tears, then erupted with violent fury at the victory of Donald Trump, some conservatives compared the reaction to the supposed “five stages of grief”: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Pointing to the series of ridiculously patronizing celebrity videos begging for the election result to be magically nullified, conservatives took this as a sign that the left had entered the bargaining stage, and thus that acceptance was imminent.

If only.

The Australian experience of recent years should serve as a harbinger of what our American friends can expect to have to endure for the next four years or more. Some Americans are already beginning to speak of Trump Derangement Syndrome; Australia has similarly endured Abbott Derangement Syndrome.

I have to warn you guys – if you think it’s bad now, it’s only going to get a whole lot worse.

For most of his political career former Prime Minister Tony Abbott drew more than the usual share of derision from his opponents, due in large part to his forthright conservatism and unapologetic, if low-key, Catholicism – although Abbott is no Theocon, as Americans might expect. Indeed, he explicitly rejects mingling religion and politics.

Nonetheless, something about Abbott seems to trigger an insanely disproportionate reaction in his detractors. Despite being a competent minister in the long-running and popular Howard government, Abbott was constantly derided by the political left. When he became Opposition leader shortly after Howard’s defeat in 2007, the hatred intensified.

A devastatingly effective leader, Abbott took the conservatives from a landslide loss in ‘07 to an election that balanced on a knife-edge for weeks. Whatever your politics, this was a remarkable achievement: one-term governments are almost unknown in Australian history.

The only thing that prevented Abbott from pulling off a win was what was quickly coming to be known as Abbott Derangement Syndrome.

Despite the demonstrated incapability of the incumbent, the hatred of Abbott – especially encouraged by large swathes of the left-dominated media – was so ferocious that the minor parties holding the balance of power made it clear they would never deal with him.

But over the next three years, against an unrelenting campaign against Abbott by both the left-wing establishment and their media camp followers, voters steadily marched the other way, and in 2013 Abbott won government with a landslide.

Prime Minister Abbott.

The media, and polite society in Australia’s green-left voting inner cities were astonished and infuriated. How was it possible that this ghastly man, who they utterly abhorred, could be elected? Like Pauline Kael, none of them knew anyone who’d voted for him.

Their rage was unbounded. Editorials, blogs and tweets erupted. Protesters took to the streets. They railed against (invariably almost entirely imaginary) “racism”, “bigotry”, “misogyny”, “homophobia”. That such a man could be elected, they said, showed the fundamental weakness of democracy.

Sound familiar?

The progress of events in the U.S. following Trump’s victory in November thus carry a strong sense of déjà vu here in Australia. The tears, the tantrum-throwing, the snooty hectoring of the celebrity set, the sheer, deranged denial of political reality.

Which is why American conservatives should take heed: don’t expect this storm to pass.

If you think the left are going to back down, shut up, and accept the reality of the sheer, monumental scale of the political whoop-ass handed to them this November, you’re sadly mistaken.

American conservatives need to take heed: having used all his political mongrel (as we Aussies call it) to propel him to power, in government Abbott let down his guard. He made the mistake of trying too hard to placate those who were just too deranged by their utter, insane hatred to be ever capable of fair dealing.

Instead of standing his ground, Abbott blinked, and lost.

So let this all be a lesson to American conservatives: now is not the time to rest on your laurels. Now is the time to gird your loins for the battles to come. Because they are coming.

Make no mistake: middle America – middle America, socially, economically, geographically and politically – won a historic victory in November 2016. They won bigly. But it was just the beginning. Like a wounded beast, the regressive left are not going to go quietly. They’re going to double down and become even more furiously insane in their opposition to anything and everything the Trump administration attempts.

And they cannot be trusted. They will bite any hand that offers an olive branch.

They do not want compromise, they want blood

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