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Don’t fear the ‘shrinking centre’

Don’t fear the ‘shrinking centre’

Photo: Andrew Meares/AFR

An article has appeared on the ABC website on the topic of social media and ‘toxic politics’. Within are interviews with two New South Wales state politicians, both lamenting the way social media has shaped the direction of politics.

The article is quite solid, pointing to the dearth of able-minded people willing to enter politics on account of the genuinely poisonous environment that it has become, and quite accurately makes the case that society is increasingly tribal. But one quote stood out to me, because it is a demonstration of the inability of those in power to grasp political (or, at least, ideological) reality.

Catherine Cusack, an MLC for the North Coast region, is quoted as saying that she “fear[s] that we have a shrinking middle in politics, and that extremes either on the left or the right are very active in these forums…so when I read these comments not only in social media, but also online in newspapers and on Facebook, I have to [remind myself] this isn’t what the world is like, this isn’t what most families are like, but it is having a profound effect on political discourse.”

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