Letters to
the editor

Mighty lesson for Labor

While conservatives are busy celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, Bill Shorten and the ALP should be listening and learning (“Progressive class warfare”, Guy Rundle, November 12-18). In the United States, the disenfranchised working class have taken their revenge against the powerful elites who have taken their votes for granted. Hillary Clinton had the expectation that battlers would give her their vote while she pandered to the same vested interests, the same business as usual, the same status quo that has left them relatively poorer, with less job security, less voice and less hope. In Australia, the same rump of working-class people have been searching for someone or something to represent them – so far, they’ve patiently sided with the Liberals or Labor, or they’ve been seduced by the Palmer United Party, One Nation and Nick Xenophon – but they remain unspoken for. Bill Shorten and the ALP are currently following the same line as Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, and they will go the same way unless they are brave, bold and visionary. A large group of Australians is crying out for a political voice, for a party that will listen to them, will represent their interests, and will show them leadership. If the ALP is unable to represent the people for whom it was established, the vacuum will be filled by others – and judging by the lesson from the US, they may be distinctly unattractive.

– Jack Bowers, Downer, ACT

Sanders the only option for real change

I congratulate The Saturday Paper for a thorough review of the implications and consequences of a Trump presidency. However, I take issue with Guy Rundle’s thesis that “Clinton’s nomination ... represented the greatest political failure to date of the progressive class”. Clinton’s nomination represented a failure of the Democratic Party to recognise the disillusionment of a great pool of the US electorate towards the establishment class. Towards the end of the primary election process for the two major parties, polls continually showed that Bernie Sanders would defeat Trump by a much greater margin than would Clinton. Sanders provided a real and thoroughly costed alternative to Trump’s manifesto in addressing the grievances of the population left behind and stagnant by the surge of corporate America. The great failure of this election process is not the failure of the progressive movement, but the failure of the media and political and business establishment to realise that many Americans wanted a change from the status quo. A progressive Sanders platform might well have won the 2016 US presidential election as well as the house of representatives and senate.

– Les Mitchell, Kangaroo Valley, NSW

Challenge now is how we react

Thank you once again for a brilliant editorial (“Faceless man”, November 12-18), calmly documenting the realities of the understandings and actions of Trump, and the challenges that these pose for us all. It made me recall, many years ago, hearing American psychologist Lawrence LeShan say, in response to a question, that “when you boil it all down, at every moment we have a choice: to act on love, or to act on fear”. I think this is what makes it so painful for me to watch the increasingly common demonstrations by those, such as Trump, who are attracted to positions of power, of primarily “acting on fear”. This is demonstrated not only by Trump and his supporters but also by most among his opposition and by most of our own political and business elite. It is, indeed, a time that demands deep reflection, deep healing and immense courage, and a commitment to do better at nurturing and enabling our future leaders, and their followers. Our future has just got much more demanding.

– Stuart Hill, Linden, NSW

Lack of evidence puts Pell in the clear

It’s not so long ago that Richard Ackland railed against any “childlike form of expression”. However, the Gadfly column (November 12-18) referred to “Father Gerard Henderson”, “Cardinal Gorgeous George Pell”, the “Catholic Boys Daily” and so on. Funny, eh? I stand by what I wrote in The Weekend Australian (November 4-6). Neither Gerald Ridsdale nor Peter Searson were on what Ackland calls “Pell’s watch” when they sexually abused children in Ballarat and Melbourne respectively. The responsible authority at the time was Bishop Ronald Mulkearns in Ballarat and Archbishop Frank Little in Melbourne. Gail Furness, SC, has not produced any document or witness evidence that Pell knew of Ridsdale’s paedophilia, although he was aware of his homosexuality. Four one-time staff of the Catholic Education Office gave evidence to the royal commission. None said that they had informed (then bishop) George Pell of Searson’s sexual offending.

 – Gerard Henderson, Sydney, NSW

Anthem for our times, please

As the government proposes to impose a ban on granting any and all visas types for asylum seekers who arrive by boat, may I propose that they also impose a complete ban on renditions of the national anthem. Two lines of the second verse read “for those who come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share”.

– Meriel E. Wilson, Malvern, Vic

By Joh, we’ve seen it all before

To paraphrase “Gadfly’s” quote of H.L. Mencken, “The plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” Trump: inarticulate and possessed with the personality characteristics of the worst leaders of the 20th century. (Don’t use the Hitler simile.) So I won’t! Keep it local. America is about to enter its Joh Bjelke-Petersen period.

– Warren Tindall, Bellingen, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 19, 2016.

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