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Beware conservative political refugees

With extreme right-wing politics taking over traditionally conservative political parties, many centrist members are fleeing them, and being welcomed elsewhere with open arms as if enlightened.

For those not caught up in the right-wing takeover of conservative politics, it is easy for them to see the destruction the new wave of politicians is bringing. However, while these refugees may not like the changes taking place in their former parties, they have not abandoned their core policies.

The Democratic party is welcoming people who won't vote for Trump et al, and non-right-wing news media are happy to have a new range of talking heads slamming Trump and extreme right-wing politics, but they are not enquiring as to whether their guests have shifted their political ground as a result of seeing the logical conclusion of conservative policies. None of the guests are espousing more people-centred policies or thoroughly repudiating the other efforts Republicans are undertaking to break democracy or reduce peoples' rights. They still don't really want a more equitable society.

The steady embrace of these conservatives by media also points to how much that media is already aligned with the centrist right. Over the last few years, media has had to give voice to some more leftist voices as they were the main ones pointing out the downsides to Trump, but while that has appealed to non-conservative viewers, it has also meant that many of the downsides to capitalism were also pointed out, which is not a viewpoint shared by owners of those media. Certainly, moderate conservatives allow them to largely stay away from social justice issues which challenge capitalism.

In Australia, the steadfast refusal of the previous governing conservative coalition to take firm action against climate change, along with its poor record towards women, prompted several women to run as independents in 2022. While their agendas on these issues seem progressive, they are not pushing anything different on other societal issues than what would be expected from their conservative background and beliefs. In fact, many are resisting measures to get workers more security, such as opposing industrial relations changes to give workers more bargaining power to redress stagnant wages.

The enemy of your enemy is not your friend, especially if they are only the enemy of your enemy on a narrow range of issues. Independents are good for democracy because they can allow some measure of rational political discussion, but not if they are essentially only independent because they object to a couple of policies of their former party and have not had a sea-change in thinking and beliefs.

We have to be clear about who we support so that we are not still supporting those who will undermine our general well-being. Running on climate-friendly policies and womens' rights has to be seen in the context of how much those politicians still support policies that have created climate change and undervaluation and suppression of people in the first place. A person who is really for equity will have a wholistic and humanitarian view of society and would automatically advocate for fair treatment of all people and the earth.

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