Voting Rights

Why the KKK is being killed by free speech

Why is the KKK losing to free speech? Daryl Davis is why. We’ll get to him a bit later. Even before the terrible events of Charlottesville the movement to remove statues of Confederate figures has grown. A list of states looking to do so can be found here. It so happens on the same subject, a poll was taken by MilitaryTimes on whether 10 of the forts (Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard) throughout the US and one naval vessel (the submarines Robert E Lee, Dixon, Jackson and Huntley have all been decommissioned. The guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville is still in service named after the greatest victory of General Lee) named after Confederate soldiers/battles be changed. The result from 8,000 polled so far is 71% in the No camp. Whatever the arguments for and against it would seem the majority of Americans are prepared to accept the history. One could question why the US military decided to name things after a former enemy of the United States in the first place? If you read the detailed histories of the ships named after Confederate commanders they symbolize their military skill and leadership not their defence of slavery.

Monument destruction is not new. We only need go back to the 1990s when Ukraine started to demolish the 5,500 monuments of Vladimir Lenin that were scattered around the country, except those with a WW2 significance. Basically the idea was Ukrainians wished to show their disgust at communist rule but honour those who bravely fought for their freedom. Look at how many statues of dictators in the Middle East and North Africa have been torn down since Saddam fell.

The Civil War and the emancipation of slaves is deeply etched in American history. 620,000 died in the conflict. Interestingly in an 1866 letter to fellow Confederate Gen. Thomas L. Rosser, General Robert E. Lee wrote, “As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt … would have the effect of … continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties.”

Robert E.Lee’s great grandson, Robert E.Lee V said, “We have to be able to have that conversation around the symbols of the Confederacy without all of the hatred and the violence…if they choose to take those statues down, fine. Maybe it’s appropriate to have them in museums or to put them in some sort of historical context in that regard.”

That is the point which is no doubt upsetting certain groups. They feel their ‘free speech’ (hate speech to some) is being violated. The 1st Amendment is what it is. No matter how one may feel about the views of such extremist groups, the question of legality rears its ugly head. There is no law against carrying a Nazi or KKK flag as abhorrent and offensive as the action is. It is vulgar and gets all the shock value it seeks to gain. As much as one might think such a flag bearer getting clocked on the head had what was coming to him, can we honestly say violence will sew seeds of unity?

Charlottesville City tried to revoke the Unite the Right’s permit it had issued for the rally to be held in Emancipation Park, so it could move the protestors a mile away to McIntire Park, with the claim of more open space. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Charlottesville and a federal judge ruled that the initial permit was to be honoured. To police the 500 right wing protesters expected to attend, first responders outnumbered them two to one to ensure public safety. However it seems the police were only intervening when violence broke out. Instead of making sure Anti-fa and the nationalists never saw each other, law enforcement was standing passively by, waiting for violence to erupt so that they could declare an emergency and clear the area. We don’t need to work out the rest when two armed groups that detest each other clash. What did people expect? Had Anti-fa not been there, can we assume the protest would have been vile but peaceful? It is highly possible. Once again they were legally entitled to be there regardless of what people may think about their toxic views. As soon as people try to shut down their legal rights, a whole new can of worms will be opened. The counter-protestors achieve the complete opposite of what they set out to do.

To put the shoe on the other foot. If Anti-fa, which specializes in shutting down speech it doesn’t agree with, was banned from protesting we wouldn’t hear the end of it. Even if Anti-fa had a permit to protest in Charlottesville, why on earth would any city grant two groups so diametrically opposed the opportunity to vent on the same day? That is like leaving Bambi in a cage full of hungry wolves. The outcome was obvious.

ACLU Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga said, “The situation that occurred was preventable, and our lawsuit challenging the City to act constitutionally did not cause it. … All we did was ask the City to live up to the requirements of the Constitution. That it failed to do so is on the City, not us.”

In reality the protest is over clumps of granite, concrete and bronze. Some see the history of white nationalists, who protest at their demolition, as reason enough to prevent their rights. It is true some of the groups they are part of have committed terrible acts in the century following the end of the Civil War. Some argue it hasn’t ended. Now we are now witnessing the tit-for-tat stupidity of wanting to pull down MLK Jr statues or remove the name plaque from George Washington’s statue! What next? Should the Lincoln Memorial be dynamited? Of course not.

The problem is people aren’t listening. The accusation is that all white nationalists are racists and bigoted. I happen to be white and proud of my country. Does that make me a white nationalist? Is patriotism a bad thing? Does that make me a Nazi? In Australia the number of groups out to shame those who are white is growing. The City of Yarra Council (CoYC) voted this week to ditch Australia Day because they view it as the day the British invaded Aboriginal lands. Despite many Aboriginal leaders expressing the view that Australia Day should be one of inclusiveness, unity and looking forward, the CoYC pushes division by rigging a poll by using activists to get the result to justify their socialist hand-ringing. They want to shame people who had no control over events of 230 years ago. Instead of dealing with rubbish collection and ensuring public restrooms are kept clean, the CoYC thinks it speaks for the majority when it doesn’t. It promotes a grievance culture that only looks backward.

Take African American Daryl Davis who has converted over 200 people to leave the KKK by allowing them to express their views. He says, “People say, “Daryl, how can you have this stuff (KKK memorabilia)? Why don’t you burn it?” I say as shameful as it is you don’t burn our history regardless of the good, the bad and the ugly. And the Ku Klux Klan is as American as baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet.” Davis goes on to say with respect to free speech, “Give that person a platform. Let these people air their views and people will reciprocate…I never set out to convert anybody…they all converted themselves.”

There in lies the beauty of free speech. If one allows people to peacefully protest within the limits of the law and give them an unfettered ability to express themselves, no matter how crackpot their beliefs, they have no way to complain that they’ve been victimized. Unite the Right had a pretty lame turnout – 500 people. Their actions, were they able to practice them under the banner of freedoms provided by the constitution, would have done little to enamour them to the wider audience they want to reach. They looked ridiculous.

The flip side breeds resentment and makes it worse in the long run. Anti-fa’s actions to gag people and treat them with contempt pushes the problem underground making it harder to control. Worse than that these wounds fester in a manner which tends to lead to knee jerk actions as the pressure inside causes raw emotion to override common sense. That is what we got in Charlottesville.

Countless arguments have been made wanting to ban white nationalists from protesting. If people dislike the laws that protect these extremists then they should campaign to ‘amend’ the 1st Amendment to curtail that activity. However they should be prepared to have their own freedoms crimped as well. Laws should never be unjust.

We also hear the term Nazi bandied around like confetti. Were all Kriegsmarine sailors, Wehrmacht soldiers and Luftwaffe pilots hardened Nazis? It raises a true story of a highly decorated Messerschmitt Bf-109 pilot, Franz Stigler, who escorted a stricken US B-17F bomber (on its maiden mission) piloted by Charlie Brown back over the Channel so the injured air crew might survive. Stigler not only risked being shot down himself but potentially faced court martial and execution for aiding and abetting the enemy. The two men shared a great friendship over 18 years after reuniting in 1990. It is a truly heartwarming story. It’s proof to the rest of us that something great done now can change our lives much, much later. Daryl Davis is a modern day Franz Stigler who proves common sense can prevail in testing times.

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The growing dangers of the Sanctimonious Society

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Welcome to the sanctimonious society. Social media has taken this to new levels. Given the superficiality of much of today’s internet posts, memes and rants, what it has done is destroy the need for serious debate over contentious issues. Before discussing the likes of Twitter or Facebook censoring certain bloggers, the discourse is self-evident. How often do you read a credible rebuttal to a topical post? Hardly ever is the answer. Usually the criticism is laced with sanctimony, expletives and ridicule. The aim of trolling is none other than to shut down debate and make fun of the person who makes the statement. The intensity of cyber-bullying is chronic. In some respects it is none too surprising we are dealing with words like snowflake, trigger warnings and safe spaces these days.

Take cyber bullying stats from the Association of Psychological Science in the US. In 2015 more than 16,000 young people were absent from school daily because of bullying. 83% of young people say cyber bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem. 30% of young people have gone on to self-harm as a result of cyberbullying. 10% of young people have attempted to commit suicide as a result of cyberbullying. People who have been bullied are at greatest risk for health problems in adulthood, over six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness, smoke regularly, or develop a psychiatric disorder compared to those not involved in bullying. In the US alone, suicides per 100,000 head of population since 2000 are up 38% according to WHO.

However the WiFi world is quickly escalating unreasoned stupidity in the real world. The internet is awash with so much ill-considered social media activity that if one chooses to breathe for 10 minutes the story will likely have changed 180 degrees from the initial knee jerk. Take the terrible events of Charlottesville this week. The driver that plowed into the crowd was initially reported as a white supremacist before other media reported he was Antifa. Regardless of his affiliation his actions were repugnant. Anyone with common decency can see that. Trying to justify the legitimacy of masked Antifa (many who were carrying baseball bats) staging a ‘peaceful’ protest was somehow morally superior to alt-right torch bearers or vice versa is almost like trying to say watering your lawn with gasoline is less harmful than diesel to kill off weeds.

While the tragedies of the lost lives and depraved acts of violence from both sides is impossible to ignore, the (social and mainstream) media was awash with one sided views. There was no debate and balanced reasoning was next to non existent. One could argue the media has always been biased and to some extent that is true however in the social media world clickbait means revenue and the more sensational and less accurate the reporting the higher the likely ‘hits’ which only exacerbates the problem. We only need to look at CNN’s admission that the ‘Russiagate’ story has been a fabrication for ratings. Integrity be damned. Sadly that is becoming almost an all too common thread of today’s society. Selfish, narcissistic and insensitive bullying.

The other problem nowadays is that almost everyone carries a video camera. It is as if many think they are behind the safety of their own computer screens, oblivious to what is going on. Only a few months ago, an armed SWAT team boarded a Malaysian Airlines flight to suppress a crazed passenger. Despite the screams to get down, multiple people could be seen standing as tall as possible trying to improve the angle of the altercation on their iPhones. There is a sick surrealism to it. Yet if we take this clickbait of someone’s footage at Charlottesville, disseminated to an audience already prejudiced, it only adds to the hysteria. The instant it hits the mobs’ feed it can lead to incorrect assumptions to what is actually going on, even worse hampering emergency services efficacy in controlling the situation. Yet, 10 minutes later, the unedited version of the same scene or one shot from a different angle can completely undermine that biased view. It might show how the violence really escalated rather than the deliberately cut version showing the evil of the unhinged. If we managed to get all of the collective footage from 1,000s of smartphones and objectively analyzed it all it wouldn’t be surprising to see both sides fueling the violence in different areas. Yet because it fits the picture of the ‘divided’ country narrative no attempts are made to seek balance which only fires up the misinformation.

Did Trump take too long to condemn the KKK, Neo-Nazi and White Supremacists? Perhaps. Was he waiting for a full debrief on what went on? Perhaps. Are all 63 million odd Trump voters that don’t openly condemn these acts of violence guilty of being white-supremacists by association? No. Are all Democrats responsible for what Antifa does? No. Internet trolls seem less intent on getting tacit admissions of guilt from their enemy. Think of the campaign which has identified some of the torch bearers leading several to get fired by their employers. Where was the campaign to identify the baseball bat wielding Antifa thugs? Was it because they were masked? Some might cynically claim they don’t have jobs to be fired from. However this idea that only one side is guilty serves no purpose and risks further division.

What we have here is a failure to communicate. Both extremes are so caught up in their own views there is little scope for reasoning much less any desire to consider the alternative argument. This idea that Trump is all of a sudden responsible for unleashing this division is preposterous. Hate doesn’t surface in 6 months. It brews over longer periods of time. If anything Trump is a catalyst to it. His caustic manner is tipping an apple cart of decades of political correctness and walking on eggshells legislation that has sought in many cases to promote victimhood. The President’s actions now threaten many of these altruistic views and socialist ideals. They are upset. This isn’t to debate the rights and wrongs of policy set by previous administrations, rather seek to identify why this scourge is happening. It doesn’t justify any forms of violence but it highlights how tightly sprung things are. Just think of why a p*$$y grabbing vulgarian was able to defy all the odds in the election? Could it be that the underbelly of division has existed in America for so long? It finally reached breaking point and delivered him to the White House? The idea he has created this division is a complete falsehood. One might argue his tweets are stirring this hornet’s nest but the sad fact of the matter is that the problems have been brewing way before his inauguration. Ask yourself why hasn’t the mainstream media worked out the best way to cripple Trump is to ignore him? 18 months on since he won the GOP ticket they have not stopped hyperventilating which gives him more airtime than he deserves and ultimately makes them look foolish.

This bullying behaviour is only likely to get worse. The ever worsening cesspit of social media will only exacerbate the problem. Behind a keyboard, people feel they can afford to be 10 feet tall but seldom do they realize their actions could carry (un)intended negative reactions.

More laws are being created to clamp down on what is called ‘hate speech’ or discriminatory language. However we are witnessing more countries shut down free speech and innocent people are having their lives destroyed for expressing points of view that are completely acceptable and not even the slightest bit racist or bigoted (Australians will know the secret trial held by the AHRC of several QUT students expressing a fact). Seeking prescriptive measures to shut people up will invite exactly the sort of behaviour it seeks to prevent. One can call former EDL leader Tommy Robinson a bigot but he has two best selling books in the UK. Could it be there are more people in the UK that share his views than politicians are willing to admit because political correctness is easier for them to dodge discussing pertinent issues? Whether Tommy is right or wrong in his analysis is beside the point. He obviously represents a larger mindshare of the community. Shutting them up forces the movement underground. Do we ban his book? It doesn’t seek to address the problem which in his case is Islam. In some cases he has a point. The exposure of predominantly Bangladeshi/Pakistani rape gangs who have groomed 100s of innocent women across 18 British cities is an issue. Listening to Newcastle City Mayor Nick Forbes, one of the places impacted by this depravity, spent an entire interview dodging the question of these grooming gangs not wanting to discuss the M word. All it does is alienate more people against an optically biased system.

One can debate till the cows come home about whether the M word is the main factor but if it is not openly debated, it is not hard to see why some will grow prejudiced. It is hardly desirable. It doesn’t mean the thinking is right rather a growing number of people feel ignored. It doesn’t automatically make them racists or bigots. Some feel politicians are hiding from speaking openly of jihadi attacks on home soil, dismissing them as lone wolf attacks or the community’s fault for forcing them to commit such atrocious acts. If indeed the left leaning media is so assured of bigotry by Anglo Saxon Brits why not show the other side of the debate and broadcast hours of footage showing Muslim clerics speaking out against these attacks, everyday Muslims integrating with their non-Muslim communities and how they are actively working with authorities to weed the radicals that are demonizing their faith? No, it’s easier to point fingers at bigoted Brits who see no comfort offered by their elected leaders in what they see happening to their community. Once again bullying people for expressing what they perceive as legitimate concerns doesn’t solve the problem.

To put the shoe on the other foot, Robinson posted a video link of the start of an Oldham (a borough of Manchester) Council meeting. It showed the majority of Anglo-Saxon councillors with their heads bowed as the elected Muslim Mayor requested his imam to say prayers. Of course it easy to see why some might draw conclusions to the decline of centuries of British culture however looking deeper into the matter yielded interesting findings. Voter turnout at the last election in the 25% Muslim borough was around 30%. It was a fairly held election. Democracy. Whether local politics is too petty for some, if the residents of Oldham are so incensed by the idea of an imam saying prayers in Arabic and English after following the Serjeant at Arms carrying a mace bearing a Christian cross it is hard to have sympathy. If one is truly in fear of the cultural upheaval, why not use their democracy to change it? Expressing outrage at something that is controllable seems ridiculous.

Australia is in the midst of bullying as well. Same sex marriage (SSM) is on the table. A postal plebiscite is set to occur. Many argue that parliamentarians should vote on it and get it over with. Indeed there are far more pressing economic issues to deal with. Yet the Turnbull government lacks any moral authority and is beholden to so many internal factions to be able to pass so called marriage equality.

Still regardless of one’s views on SSM, the bullying is in full effect. Musician Nick Minchin created one of his hallmark curse-ladened parodies of a Peter Allen song called, “I still call Australia homophobic”. Sadly he is part of the problem, not the solution. One doesn’t have to be homophobic to be against SSM. Yet Minchin thinks it is ok to call these people ‘bigoted c*nts’. Such words have all the same traits of ridiculing Trump or Brexit voters in the lead up to the vote. It has the opposite impact at the polling booth.

A Tasmanian archbishop is being hauled before a tribunal for expressing his anti-SSM views on the grounds of spreading hate. Are his views old fashioned or just part of millennia of religion? A hotel was forced to cancel a lawful gathering of anti-SSM campaigners through intimidation. Is this the sort of behaviour (albeit at the fringe) that unites a nation on a subject?

Some argue it is a waste of $122mn to hold a SSM plebiscite for a government in a $750bn hole. Maybe it is but to many out there, they want a democratic vote to take place. Some feel lobby groups that ignore their concerns (however backward, ancient or stiff) on issues they hold dearly are the exact reason why a vote should be held. It doesn’t matter to them whether a Catholic country like Ireland passed gay marriage, these people don’t want to be brow beaten, attacked or pilloried for expressing an alternative view. I am quite certain that should ‘Yes’ get up in the plebiscite people will have had their say. Shouting down the views of others is wrong. Let their voices be heard and allow the marketplace for free speech settle the differences. Sadly this is not the case. Any polling done by Get Up which shows an emphatic victory should be discounted. Indeed if they are so sure of a ‘Yes’ outcome then they should be over the moon to let democracy back its findings. Secretly they think otherwise. What they view as a waste of money won’t be to others.

Some people fear (again we’re not debating the rights and wrongs of it) that should lobby group bullying win the fight for SSM by an act of parliament then what comes next? We only need to look at the Safe Schools Programme in Victoria which is nothing more than a way to enforce gender indoctrination under the guise of anti-bullying. Cross dressing/role playing, whichever bathrooms and other ‘progressive’ programs are not necessary for 6 year olds. Boys playing with Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars or girls playing with Barbie dolls is not something that requires the school system to enforce boys and girls to reverse toy box selections. When I was a baby my mother recalled I had a love for cars. Even from my pram I knew more car names than English words. I’m sure she wasn’t wheeling me around the Warringah Mall car park trying to force me to do male things. By the same token my daughters weren’t chained to the Bratz corner of Toys’R’us in order to force them to be girls. Seeing her mother apply makeup was something she wanted to do.

What this all boils down to is society’s growing intolerance for free and open debate. We do not lack the ability to talk but we’re incapable of listening. That alternative views must be mocked or banned. There are some with such inability to accept alternative views who suggest prison sentences for climate skepticism. Are the arguments for climate change so weak that alarmists believe the only way to force the end game is to legally ban freedom of opinion?

One imagines that if we put an Antifa and a KKK supporter in the same room unbeknownst to them both and asked a standard questions on a variety of topics they probably would agree on more than they would if within their representative groups. These experiments have been conducted before where complete strangers meet and by the end when identities are revealed there is an awakening. It isn’t forced but occurs naturally through cordial conversation.

I make no apology for my conservative views. One friend is an unabashed socialist. We debate intensely on a variety of issues we have polar views on. I recently wrote to him privately to thank him for broadening my understanding of his views. While I might disagree with him I certainly respect his right to debate his points, which he often does insightfully. Some points are indeed valid and on certain issues we see eye to eye. Others less so. However we listen.

Sadly sanctimony is becoming ever more firmly entrenched into our culture and it can have nothing but bad outcomes. Perhaps to end with a Jewish proverb – “slander slays three people: the spoken by, the spoken to and the spoken of”

 

Victorian government wants to take control of parenting

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It shouldn’t surprise coming from the Marxist Victorian government but the idea for girls as young as 11 to get access to the contraceptive pill without consent from the parents is plain irresponsible. Most parents worry about their kids. What they eat and what they put in their bodies. It isn’t they turn a blind eye to their kids potentially engaging in underage intercourse. Some kids may only want it to reduce pain during their menstrual cycle but to have a government provide a service which deliberately allows kids to bypass parental approval is downright wrong. Why does the state have a role giving kids who clearly aren’t of a sufficient mental maturity to fully comprehend what they are taking and then enable them to hide it from their guardians? It is hard enough tying to get kids to listen and become model citizens.

Allowing the government to effectively endorse actions that effectively suggest to kids they don’t need their parents consent opens a whole new can of worms about disobedience.

Why not just give kids the vote at age 11 if they’re of sufficient mental faculty, pay their taxes and contribute to society?

On the bright side at least it isn’t as bad as Bill  89 in Ottawa which allows the state to take custody of children from parents who don’t accept their kids gender identity.

Is PM Abe’s at risk of a health relapse with yet more voter backlash?

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Yet more voter backlash for PM Shinzo Abe and the LDP. The scandals and shenanigans are causing some glaring results at the local and prefectural level. Last month’s Tokyo Municipal Assembly elections saw the LDP experience its worst ever outcome. The Sendai Gubernatorial elections this Sunday saw the LDP stench continue. Japan has been pushing the Abenomics revival theme but given the stress from a plummeting approval rating (26% heading into the Kake Gakuen hearings in parliament) will his health issues kick up forcing him to resign? The July 22-23 Mainichi newspaper poll showed that 56% did not back his government, +12 points from the previous survey in June.

Independent candidate Kazuko Kori (right) promised education reform and a quick resolution to the problem of long child care waiting lists. Her LDP competition in the form of  Hironori Sugawara (left),ironically a president of a funeral services operator, was defeated.

PM Abe’s left his first term after just 12 months in 2006-2007 being diagnosed with an illness known as chronic ulcerative colitis — a type of inflammatory bowel disease which according to the Bungei Shunju monthly magazine in Feb 2008:

“He would rush to the toilet in pain…he felt the urge to evacuate every half hour or so.

While in the 2012 campaign Abe assured us he’d been cured, the question is whether the current crop of scandals (involving him and his wife Akie) will see a relapse of this condition, rendering him out of action. Markets are not yet forecasting Abe to resign but whatever one thinks about “Abenomics” it has brought some long overdue semblance of stability in Japanese politics. Should an event occur we could see some financial evacuations.

Pauline Hanson TV special in Japan tomorrow

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TV Tokyo will broadcast a Pauline Hanson special tomorrow. Interesting to see how they portray her. The blurb is as follows:

いまオーストラリアでホームレスが増加しているという。シドニーでは1年で25%も急増、200人に1人がホームレスなのだ。その原因が移民だという。そんな移民を排斥しようという極右政党まで現れた。ポーリン・ハンソン率いるワンネーションだ。ポーリンはその過激な発言から「オーストラリアのトランプ」の異名を持つ。反移民・反イスラムを訴え、2016年の選挙で60万票を獲得した。

“Australia is witnessing an acceleration in homeless. Sydney has seen a 25% increase over the last year with 1 person in 200 now homeless. The reason is said to be immigration. There is now a extreme right wing party which seeks to boycott immigrants. It is the One Nation Party led by Pauline Hanson.  Due to her strong rhetoric she is being named the “Aussie Trump”. Her anti-immigrant anti-Islam stance won her 600,000 votes in the 2016 election.”

It will be interesting to see how she is portrayed by the Japanese media. It is quite rare to see Aussie politics make it to Japanese TV but it is telling to see that her views are making waves enough for it to be broadcast. If only Turnbull had such impact – well to tell the truth the only impact he had was sinking the Japanese subs deal which brought widespread negative press. This is how he was pilloried.

3 maps which explain a lot

IMG_0743The chart above shows the average % change in housing prices in the US by county today vs that in 2000 according to a Harvard study. The following maps show the results of the 2008 and 2016 election by county. Could this be yet another basic concept showing why the US voted the way they did last election?

2008 – a hope for change

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2016 – the last 8 years didn’t help – time to vote for wholesale change

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Feel free to draw your own conclusions. These three maps to me voice the disgruntled who remain destitute after all this time.

Abe’s LDP smashed in Tokyo Municipal Assembly election

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Has populism has found its way to Tokyo? Not really. PM Shinzo Abe’s LDP, which has ruled Japan at a national level for decades) bar a few periods was smashed in the Tokyo Municipal Assembly elections yesterday. Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike had split from the LDP to form the Tomin First (Tokyo-ites First) Party. She won 49 seats (out of 50 contested) from 6 held before the election in the 127 seat Municipal Assembly. The LDP went from 57 to 23, 15 less that its worst ever showing to date. Even the Communist Party gained seats at the expense of the LDP.

Koike’s popularity (despite sliding from 74% to 59%  over the dithering around Tsukiji Fish Market redevelopment) has been driven by the idea of ‘transparency’ in government policy decision making, a clamp down on wasteful spending and accountable government.

Abe’s LDP on the other hand has been embroiled in scandal after scandal and citizens of the capitol were not prepared to be taken for mugs (although only 33% showed up to vote). Whether it be the out-of-control screaming of recently resigned LDP member Mayuko Toyoda to her staffer, the favouritism shown in the Kake Gakuen scandal to PM Abe’s long term friend, the sale of government land at a 90% discount to set up a nationalist school (Moritomo Gakuen) or even the PM being booed on the campaign trail, voters let the LDP know that they’re sick of old school establishment politics. A national election is still some 18 months off.

The bigger issue being debated is whether Koike’s party could make serious inroads into the LDP at a national level putting Abenomics and ultra loose monetary policy on the back burner. The LDP’s national junior coalition party (Komeito) had backed Koike’s Tomin First since last year after the LDP balked at salary cuts for Tokyo Municipal Assembly politicians.

Abe tried to hose down the talks of the rise of Tomin First arguing they were like the Japan New Party which floundered after success in the 1993 Tokyo Municipal Assembly elections. They promised much but ended up disbanding despite Koike being 2IC.

Abe will no doubt crank up public spending in the regional areas to support prefectures with rapidly aging populations. What many overlook is that Japan is still backed by an aging society. Despite all the wishes of the youth for reform, the elderly will continue to grow as a % of the voter base as the population decreases. This means policy will need to be serving the silver-haired.

Abe can’t dismiss these dreadful results out of hand. The citizens of Tokyo are livid at the LDP’s antics. Yet a 33% (+2%) turnout suggests voter apathy is still alive and kicking. Abe isn’t going to be finished by this but the party needs a long hard look at itself. The voters are suitably upset. Is this a wave of populism a la Trump or Brexit? Not really. Japan continues to suffer from lacking a credible opposition which means inexperienced parties often fail in their first term. Every now and again the LDP gets sent a warning shot before business as usual returns.