Some observations about Trump, Sanders and the radical moment

In case you missed our last meeting, here are the opening remarks from the chair, Martin Kamener:


At Open Labor we are seeking the renewal of the Australian Labor Party and a more open, optimistic and decent politics in Australia.

We want an open Labor Party: open to change, and open to new ideas.

For all that it has achieved over the years, the ALP has in recent years struggled to find the ideas and ideals needed to inspire Australians. Inertia and entrenched self-interest are powerful forces inside the party, as are disengagement and cynicism outside of it, but at Open Labor we believe that in the widespread despair with our politics there lays an opportunity.

Which brings me to tonight’s meeting, its central question, a truly Open Labor type of question, “what does the radical moment, represented by the rise of Trump, Sanders and Corbyn mean for the ALP?

In trying to make sense of this radical moment, I am reminded of Alice trying to decipher her new world after having gone through the looking glass.

Definitions that once seemed certain are suddenly no longer so.

Assumptions which underpinned our political sub-conscious cannot now be assumed, some things that were deemed Left, might now perhaps be Right and vice versa.

And suddenly we find ourselves asking do Left and Right have any meaning in the 21st Century?

In fact much of the political discussion in this radical moment is like having a discussion at the Tea Party with The Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Cheshire Cat? 

Different as Trump, Sanders and Corbyn might be, they are all a result of this radical moment that is shaking the political systems of many countries, disrupting normal political business and challenging mainstream parties to justify their existence into the 21st Century. The ascendancy of each of these politicians is a reflection of community concerns at the rapid pace of social, economic and cultural changes that is challenging our daily lives.

And in this rapidly changing political world, people are clearly asking new questions, questions which the traditional mainstream politics of Left versus Right is struggling to resolve itself, let alone reassure anxious voters that they may have an answer.

So how does a "mainstream" political party like the ALP find the right response to this radical moment?