Tony Abbott and his mates are right. Whatever the outcome of the plebiscite or a parliamentary vote, the rage and sanctimonious bullying will go on. New grievances will be unearthed. Australia Day must be moved. The constitution changed. Gender quotas enforced. LGBTI extended by a few more letters.
Australian culture, historically easy going and accepting of others, is being ravaged by self-important political activism. And it's sucking the life out of all of us.
Alas, conservatives only feed the beast.
Without a radical shift, Australia will surely end up in the same divisive mess as America.
The introduction to Charles Krauthammer's popular book Things That Matter neatly spells out the key dilemma for modern Western societies.
"First and above all else, you must secure life, liberty and the right to pursue your own happiness," the columnist writes.
"That's politics done right, hard-earned, often by war. And yet the glories yielded by such a successful politics lie outside itself."
There's great irony in this.
Malcolm Turnbull is big on "first and above all else". He regularly affirms he is here to keep us safe and protect jobs and growth. But this is true only up to a point.
Once life, liberty and the right to pursue your own happiness has been secured – which is pretty much the case in Australia – his priority becomes drawing a very firm line and reminding us of a difficult reality: more politics is likely counter-productive. The hard-earned platform, including genuine recent efforts to recognise past sins inflicted upon Aborigines and others, will count for nothing if the country doesn't move on and embrace what is truly important, the glories that exist beyond the democratic machine.
The thing is, what lies yonder defies political meaning, by implication. It's a connection, not something to be legislated for. It concerns what power can't touch, nor money buy. And – surprise, surprise – it's where we find equality.
This terrifies politicians, left-leaning media and professional activists. Not only does it threaten their identity and livelihood, it makes real the prospect they might have to surrender their simplistic us-and-them mindset and actually relate to, and assume the best of, their fellow human beings.
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