Cinderella


One of the great contradictions of modern politics is the practice of individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds voting against their best interests. Thanks either to a desire to escape their social circumstances, or xenophobic, scaremongering tactics of the right, rural and urban poor have demonstrated an irrational tendency to vote with their misguided hearts, and not with their impoverished heads.

Cinderella’s ambitions knew no bounds. Despite her poor social circumstances, she dreamt big and was critical of those around her who saw welfare as a means to an end. Her sisters, thought Cinderella, were typical examples of ‘trash’ – keen to have a good time, blow their time and money on drinking and men, and content to settle below a glass ceiling which would never see them ascend to greater heights than their parents – who had been equally as impoverished growing up.

One problem with Cinderella’s world view was that, like so many of the unprivileged, she herself was caught in the poverty cycle. She didn’t receive a quality education and found it impossible to find work. This she blamed on bad luck and her family’s insistence on locking her in a basement to perform chores. She failed to see her family’s fortunes for what they were: typical of a system that lacked a social safety net and which favoured the rich through lucrative tax breaks.

Cinderella wanted better for herself and better for her future family. She always voted Republican, seeing the Democratic Party as a champion of the institutional welfare she found despicable and damaging to society. She went door knocking for local candidates and was frequently abused on election days by the majority working class, Democrat-heavy area she lived in. “GOP bitch,” they would yell. “Fascist slag,” others would say. She would take it all with a smile, knowing that her time would come, and that she would one day leave behind the small thinkers of her village.

Upon ‘marrying up’ (as she put it), Cinderella’s world view was validated. She knew she deserved better and saw the union not as an accident of circumstance but as something she deserved. She threw herself into the Republican Party, hosting fundraisers and using the Charming name as a means to support candidates both at a local and national level. She became a key Faraway Kingdom booster whose soirées were as notorious for their fundraising power as they were for their canapés.

All the while, however, she could never quite escape her roots. Even as her profile grew and grew and her reputation sparkled, Cinderella still endured taunts behind her back at fundraising events, with frequent whisperings of “gold digger” and “social climber” levelled at her by her new-found friends.

And while she was annoyed by these taunts, she could see their point. She never argued that the shoe didn’t fit.

Cinderella

The Breakfast Club – Part 2 of 2


On 24 March 1984, five teenagers spent the day in detention at Shermer High, Illinois. It would change their lives and their politics forever.

Andy Clark – The Athlete

After spending the day in detention with his fellow Breakfast Clubbers and hooking up with Allison, Andy made a fundamental decision: no longer would he be ruled over by his domineering father. Soon after, he ditched the jock jacket for a leather one and the Sting albums for Spingsteen. Over the next four years, his renegade streak would grow, culminating in the ultimate act of rebellion in 1988: Voting for Michael Dukakis. His hardcore Republican father was furious – just what Andy had bet on.

What started out as an act of teenage rebellion soon grew into a full time obsession. After gaining entry into Northwestern on a wrestling scholarship, Andy joined the College Democrats and devoted his time to recruiting more members through his jock connections. While he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, he was a good-looking, popular and had an individualist competitive streak honed over years spent on high school wrestling teams.

He soon became the president of the College Democrats and after college got a job in the office of the Cook County Democratic Party, where he continues to work today as chief recruitment coordinator. He counts he day he met Barack Obama as his most exciting, when the then Senator travelled to Cook County as part of his 2006 book tour.

Allison Reynolds – The Basketcase

After Claire gave her a makeover and Andy made out with her, Allison had an awakening.

It turned out that life wasn’t as black and white as she’d thought. You didn’t have to eat Cap’n Crunch and Pixie Stix sandwiches to get noticed. Putting on a little makeup wouldn’t make you a whore. Life was a kaleidoscope of grey and there was nothing wrong with treading the pragmatic middle ground.

After matriculating, she attended Chicago State, where she studied English and political science. Lunchtimes were spent sitting on the lawns sneering at the radical left students with their endless causes to rally behind. Allison also joined the politics society, where she became fascinated with theories of the Third Way, believing that the end of the Cold War would signal the death of the old left/right dichotomy and the beginning of post-partisan politics.

With her political consciousness now fully developed, Allison graduated and took up a job in middle management at the Chicago Department of Sanitation. Despite her parents’ protestations, she purchased a modestly priced apartment in the suburb of Humboldt Park, insisting that it was “pretty safe now” (and besides, she loved Puerto Rican food). Allison voted for Clinton in ’92, hopeful that he would restore balance to America through his modest realignment of the tax system. She was largely satisfied.

In 2000 she voted Gore and had strong hopes for Kerry in ’04 but was once again sorely disappointed. In 2008 she finally had the ultimate Third Way candidate. Obama would usher in an era of post-partisan, post-racial politics

Today, she has niggling concerns about the success of the post-partisan project, but consoles herself in TED videos online.

Brian Johnson – The Brain

Brian Johnson’s upper middle-class family had pushed him to the brink of suicide and the Breakfast Club helped him to see it. He came out of that day repulsed by what he saw as a glaring double standard in his parents’ liberal values system – while dinnertime conversation in their comfortable Georgian- era home often centred around helping the starving kids in Africa, his parents seemed oblivious to the emotional hunger of their own child. All of the sudden, his parents, and the liberal “elite” more generally, seemed to Brian to be a bunch of walking contradictions.

From this moment on, he vowed to devote his life to showing up the champagne-sipping, liberal elite for what they were: hollow, godless, and haters of America.

Upon graduating from the University of Chicago summa cum laude in law, Brian went on to a successful job in a top tier law firm, where he specialised in corporate litigation. In his spare time, he authored papers with titles such as ‘Clinton’s wasteful spending and why the liberal elite must be stopped from destroying America’. Gradually, the language became stronger and when the Clinton sex scandal erupted, Brian was there, pen at the ready. The result? A 3000 word polemic that was widely circulated in Republican think tanks: ‘The Clinton affair, family values and how the Republican Party can take back America’.

It was wildly successful and following its release it was rumoured that Karl Rove personally approached Brian to advise President Bush. He has opted to stay out of the White House to remain in the corporate world, where he continues to publish anti-liberal essays, online at: http://www.freedomlovingamerican.org.

The Breakfast Club – Part 2 of 2

The Breakfast Club – Part 1 of 2


On 24 March 1984, five teenagers spent the day in detention at Shermer High, Illinois. It would change their lives and their politics forever.

John Bender – The Criminal

One day in detention wasn’t about to change John Bender’s outlook on life, but it did get him a new girlfriend in Claire, whom he would later marry. Bender’s views had been cemented early in life. Living with an abusive alcoholic father had bred in him a distrust of authority figures that planted the seeds of libertarianism in his mind. Bender would never graduate from Shermer High – he dropped out soon after that Saturday in detention.

However, free from the shackles of an institutionalised education, Bender’s entrepreneurial nous started to blossom. With a little help from his new girlfriend’s wealthy family, he purchased an Apple Macintosh IIe and dived into the world of software programming. He also developed an interest in the stock market and it wasn’t long before he had combined his two passions, designing a program that could accurately predict commodity price movements.

By the early ’90s, Bender was a made man. Having sold his software to the Bank of America, he established a boutique brokerage firm in Chicago and was soon up to his eyeballs in cocaine and Dom Perignon. Bender’s politics crystallised in this period. He railed against high taxes and Big Government – the government had done nothing for him in the past and now it just wanted to tax self-made men like him. Where was the logic in that?

In 1988 he became interested in Ron Paul’s candidacy for President and the Libertarian Party. Since then he has tended to vote Republican, backing candidates who are pro-market but not pro-life, and in 2012 he is once again hoping Ron Paul will win the Republican presidential nomination.

Claire Standish – The Princess

Soon after joining the Breakfast Club, Claire realised there was more to life than pearl earrings and skiing trips to Colorado. Where was the reward in having life delivered to you on a silver platter?

Enter John Bender. While Bender had started off as simply a grab for attention from her quibbling parents, it soon became apparent that he was much more than that. Reforming John Bender would become Claire’s personal Fix-Her-Upper, the challenge that would bring fulfilment to her otherwise vacuous life. And she loved him for it.

Despite initial misgivings about Bender, Claire’s conservative parents came round to the young man, admiring his ‘organic entrepreneurial spirit’ and it wasn’t long before the couple was happily married. Claire studied PR and encouraged John to enrol in a community college course in business studies. When he wavered with his software design idea, she pushed him forward.

She was also successful in her own right. Upon graduating, she entered into a big-name PR firm and managed several big accounts during the early ‘90s, including for Sega, Pepsi Max, and Janet Jackson. She voted Clinton in ’92, purely out of respect for his rapport with the common man, but swung right in 2000, under the influence of her husband’s anti-tax, small government crusade.

By 2008, Claire’s talent for PR had started to get noticed by the right people in Washington. When she received a call to help out a struggling Hilary Clinton in the race against Obama to secure the Democratic nomination, Claire couldn’t refuse. That fall she came up with her best idea yet – the infamous ‘red phone’ ad.

Despite Clinton’s failed run at the presidency, Claire stayed in Washington and it wasn’t long before she had made the seamless transition from Clinton to the other side of politics, recruited by the Koch brothers to work on strategies for undermining the Obama administration in the lead-up to 2012.

The Breakfast Club – Part 1 of 2

Harold Bishop


On 9 March 1954, Queen Elizabeth II arrived in Brisbane for the first time as part of her inaugural two-month tour of Australia. Having already visited the major metropolitan cities of Sydney and Melbourne, she was mildly startled by the enthusiastic reception she encountered in Brisbane. One could certainly feel something extra in the cries of the adoring public as the motorcade passed along George Street that day.

Perhaps one of the most excited members of the thronging crowd that day was young Harold Bishop.

Bishop grew up at a time when Australia decidedly looked to Britain. His parents had come to Australia just after the Great Depression. Very English, very Methodist, and very middle class, they imbued in Harold a conservative worldview that would last his entire life.

When he met Madge in high school, Bishop was instantly smitten and vowed that he would marry her. But it wasn’t to be. One night, the teenage Harold went home with local trollop, Mavis, who swiftly deflowered him. After Mavis fell pregnant with his son, Bishop felt it was only proper to marry her. The couple had another child before Mavis passed away, leaving Bishop to raise his teenage children on his own. Struggling to cope, he reacted in the only way he knew how – by embracing the conservative values and strict parenting style his parents had imparted to him during childhood. Politically, his first vote in a Federal election was for Menzies in 1958, beginning a relationship with the Liberal Party that would only drive his kids away further during the swinging sixties.

Bishop moved to Melbourne in the 1980s. By then, he was a middling man, a tuba player and a Salvation Army volunteer. His individualist, anti-Labor, traditionalist views found a welcome home in solidly middle class Errinsborough. Throughout his life, he had stayed loyal to the Liberal Party. He couldn’t wait to see the back of Whitlam, thought Fraser could’ve gone a bit further in the 1970s, and resented Keating’s sneering at Australia’s British traditions.

Having just bought the coffee shop, Bishop rejoiced when Howard came to office in 1996, certain (although without much evidence) that small business would be better off under the Liberal-Nationals. Moreover, the Australia he had known had changed, and he thought Howard was the man who could reverse the tide. Yet, as the Howard years wore on, Bishop found himself confused. While the deliberate attacks on traditional Australia had subsided, he sensed Howard’s reign was largely an extension of Keating’s. Immediately, Bishop sought a third party in the late-1990s, and for him it was the Christian Democrats.

In 2003, Harold’s life took a dramatic turn after he suffered a stroke. He gave up his vegetarianism, began drinking, left the Salvation Army, and pinched Izzy’s bottom. In this warped state of mind, he also seriously began to consider One Nation as a viable alternative to the major parties. Luckily for Harold, and the nation, he later recovered.

And when he had recovered, he came back to Howard. Even when his church criticised the treatment of refugees, the participation in US wars of adventure and tacit support for torture, Bishop stayed with Howard. He remains a loyal Liberal today, heartened by Tony Abbott’s views on the carbon  tax and his outward Catholicism.

Harold Bishop

Optimus Prime


Prime with climate sceptic Lord Monckton.

This immigrant narrative is a familiar one. A war-torn homeland. Persecution. Asylum sought in a land of prosperity, freedom and perceived justice. A disheveled group of would be vigilantes, looking for another chance to establish themselves as valuable, functionally-important members of a new world.

It was a complex political world which greeted the awakening refugees from Cybertron in 1983 – one which molded their young leader, Optimus Prime, into the robot humanoid truck he is today.

Like so many immigrants before him, Prime’s politics echoed those of the party in charge when he touched down. Ronald Reagan’s view of a strong, optimistic and self-sufficient America was the political foundation of Optimus’ early years in the land of the free.

His gravitation toward the right continued throughout the ’80s. Fuelled by a growing sense of impotence stemming from his inability to escape the violent conflicts of his homeland, Prime became obsessed with strong family values and the strength of America’s position in the world.

Under Prime’s leadership, the Autobots quickly became advocates for the use of force and bravado in foreign policy. This attitude was further hardened by heightening tensions in Cold War America and their contact with Republican humans, Sparkplug and Spike – good old boys whose embrace of their extra-terrestrial friends was an ironic inversion of their lack of empathy toward human immigrants from war torn nations.

With the end of the Cold War, Prime mellowed – while still a registered Republican, he was more open to centrist views and particularly concerned with the rise of the religious right. It took until the year 2005 before Optimus Prime’s once passionate political streak was reinvigorated, this time in the face of an emerging threat from the green-left.  

The alarm bells first rang when he sat in on a screening of An Inconvenient Truth – Gore and his band of climate alarmists would destroy the natural order of life for all machine-kind. As a transforming truck, he was intensely angered by the concept of pricing carbon, seeing it as a literal threat to his lifeblood and that of his friends (raw energon was found to have a global warming potential 2000 times that of CO2). From that point forward Prime committed his life to lobbying for energon exemptions as part of any international climate change agreements or domestic legislation.

Prime’s lobbying efforts have been impressive: he donated generously to the Republican Party in 2008, established a successful web campaign titled Energon-fuel for life, and embarked on a world-wide speaking tour with Lord Monckton. He now counts Monckton as an uneasy ally, unsure of his overall approach and appeal to younger voters, but seeing him as a necessary, and surprisingly effective conduit to other parts of the community.

Prime has recently reached out to Galvatron, requesting his help to combat what he perceives as climate change alarmism. His efforts have been rebuffed, as the transforming cannon has gone on record, believing a price on carbon (and energon) will ultimately make nation states, individuals and interplanetary robotic warriors more accountable for their actions.

As Starscream once said, “you can’t deny the science”.

Optimus Prime

Ossie Ostrich


Oswald Q Ostrich’s family settled in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg in the late 1950s. Fleeing a Europe beset by Stalinism’s iron fist, Ossie’s father Yuri Ostrich took to the relative ease and comfort of Australian life.

Quickly unionised, Yuri joined the Labor Party. Never religious, his religion became the Coburg Football Club and the VFA.

His son Ossie grew up with a strong sense of dual identity between his central European heritage and his family’s love for Melbourne Labor politics and Victorian amateur football.

Ossie, however, couldn’t play football. But he could play politics, and it wasn’t long before he was on the road to becoming one of the great numbers men of the Victorian Right. In virtually every preselection in Melbourne’s northern suburbs from the 1970s onwards, the influence of Ossie Ostrich was felt.

He also grew up with a wise-cracking, self-deprecating sense of humour – probably some sort of coping mechanism he’d developed while growing up an immigrant bird, he’d think as he got older. The humorous Ossie was the one Australia came to love. But the other Ossie is a story which has never really been told.

Ostrich, as a great backroom man, could move numbers against anyone. And when he couldn’t beat them in branch meetings, he’d lure them onto Red Faces on the pretense of a publicity stunt, where inevitably they’d make a complete tit of themselves. No one would vote for someone who Red gonged and scored a ‘2’.

In those days, Hey Hey was a hotbed of political division.  Ossie often nearly came to blows in the Green Room after taking issue with something said by prominent Grouper, Wilbur Wilde.  

Ostrich and his father split over politics in 1992, after former Prime Minister Bob Hawke retired from Parliament. At the ensuing by-election, ever the machine man, Ossie was instrumental in the campaign of the lacklustre Labor candidate. His father, already resentful of Hawke’s liberalisation of the economy, looked no further than his former football hero, Phil Cleary. After Cleary’s victory, Ossie pursued him to the High Court. His father didn’t speak to him for years.

Ossie retired from television in the 1990s to concentrate on politics. While he remains a loyal Labor voter, he was expelled from the party in the early 2000s after trying to oust a sitting MP and factional enemy from his safe seat. Head office grew suspicious when 640 ostriches signed up to the party in a three week period leading up to preselection.

It had Ostrich’s hands all over it. His dream of ending his working life with a spot in the Victorian upper house was dashed. He’d ruffled too many feathers.

Ossie Ostrich

Indiana Jones


When you’re an only child  being raised by an eccentric single father whose head is buried deep in medieval literature, it’s not surprising that you’ll seek guidance from somewhere else.

This was exactly the home life faced by a young Indiana Jones growing up in rural Utah. Jones felt an emptiness that went beyond lingering questions about his mother. He longed for something outside the confines of his musty home with its book-lined shelves, and someone other than his father, who, for the lack of attention he paid Jones,  may as well have been back at Oxford.

As he gazed across the Colorado Plateau, unexpectedly, he found answers in Washington and in the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

In President Roosevelt Jones found a scholar-cum-elephant hunter, who could really pull off his Rough Rider cowboy hat. Roosevelt could fill gaps in his personal development that his own father never could, and so he began to shape himself in the President’s image.  In doing so, he set off on a spiritual journey that would also deeply affect his politics.

Like his idol, it didn’t take Jones long to discover that real adventure was to be found beyond the manicured lawns of his Ivy League school, and beyond the shores of America. As his country began to explore its newfound post-adolescent strength by adopting a more proactive foreign policy, so Jones jumped into the world of 20th century international archaeology with a zealousness for acquiring museum pieces that would have made Teddy Roosevelt proud.

He soon realised that the world was a dangerous place, filled with child slave drivers, slimy Frenchmen, and snakes. Then there were those damn fascists. In World War II, Jones worked for the Office of Strategic Services (the CIA’s predecessor), preventing the Nazis from capturing the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, actions which were pivotal in changing the course of the war.

Arguably more important to the war effort, Jones voted Democrat for the first time in 1932, bringing to power another Roosevelt with an outward-looking foreign policy.

Jones’s adventures abroad opened his eyes to new experiences and cultures. He formed close friendships with people from ethnically-diverse backgrounds like Sallah and Short Round. When he voted for Truman in 1948, he did so in the hope that the president would deliver on his civil rights platform.

Jones didn’t vote in ’52 but was pleasantly surprised by Eisenhower’s stand during the Little Rock Crisis. Under Eisenhower, Jones was again approached by the CIA, who asked him to spy for them in China, under the guise of an archaeologist studying Shang Dynasty bronzes. This time he declined their offer; Short Round’s family had participated in the Long March and had brought Jones around to the Maoist cause.  For the next two decades, he was shunned from holding tenure at any major academic institution in the US.

Driven to the fringes of academia, Jones began associating with underground archaeologists from the radical left, and in 1968, authored a paper on archaeological evidence for Marx’s theories on economic development. It wasn’t until the election of Jimmy Carter that Jones was finally accepted back into mainstream academia. 

But it was too late. Like so many victims of McCarthyism, Jones had fallen into a deep funk, comforted only by the occasional hard drinking session with his lifelong friend, Marion Ravenwood.

Indiana Jones