Apropos my last post, recent events in my home state, Victoria, Australia, illustrate just how important principles are when it comes to determining what constitutes the "Right".
Australian politics, much like U.S. politics is divided into two main camps. The Australian Labor party, on one side, represents the Left in Australian politics which has become progressively more radicalized. The Right, confusingly, for U.S. readers is represented by the Liberal Party of Australia.
The Liberal party of Australia was formed by Robert Menzies from a coalition of various different "right" parties in the 1940's, but the values it represented were those of a conservative Christian Protestant Australia. It wasn't an expressively religious party but it's values were derived from the "habits" of traditional Protestant Christianity even when the faith wasn't there.
Australia's glorious age, from 1950-1973 were in large part due to the near continual governance of the party. A large part of the party's success could be attributed to the fact that the Australian Labor Party was effectively neutralised by an ideological split bought about by the Cold War in the 1950's being effectively divided between the socialists and the the DLP, which was and explicitly Christian Catholic interpretation of the labour movement. It's formation is one of few instances where communists have been beaten at their own game, and it was engineered by Bob Santamaria, one of the unsung heroes of the cold war. The DLP did a lot to moderate some of the harder economic rationalist ideas of the Liberal party thus ensuring its electoral success.
The rapid secularisation that occurred during the 1960's result in the modernisation of the liberal party and the loss of voter base for the DLP. So that by the early 1970's the Liberals had secularised and become progressive and the DLP died as a political force.
Robert Menzies, disgusted at what his party had become voted against it for the DLP on two occasions, bemoaning to Bob Santamaria that the DLP was the party he wished the Liberals to have become.
From my perspective, the Liberal party transformed itself into the worst of all things. Strictly economically rational while socially progressive, the party of Ayn Rand in many ways, and for many years drifted in the wilderness, only really gaining a foothold with the pseudo-traditionalism of the Howard years. Since his election loss the party has been drifting left.
State elections were held over the previous weekend and the Liberal party was routed, despite running against a candidate who appears to corrupt and who is spending away all the seed corn. The magnitude of the setback shocked the local Liberals and seems to have frightened the federal Liberals as well. It also seems to have started off a vicious civil war within the Liberal Party of what the party actually stands for. On one hand, there are the small-l-Liberals, who much like the Rockefeller Republicans are progressive in everything but economic policy. Then there are the large-l-Liberals, who increasingly rejecting the globohomo agenda and are increasingly asserting their Christian underpinnings.
In the post election analysis, many of the lefty media and the small-l-Liberals blamed the election loss on the fact that the party had not moved sufficiently to the Left. Despite the party really being indistinguishable on many issues from the Labor party. This of course has raised the question of what does it mean to be an Australian Liberal. No one really has the answer.
This is why principles matter.
I don't like purity tests as much as the other guy but you've got to think of them as akin to a mooring posts or as cardinal points on a compass, something that stops you slowly sliding away from your original ideals. It also stops infiltrators from from undermining your ranks from within as has so devastatingly been demonstrated in Victoria.
I welcome this fight, it has to happen. Nothing can be fixed till it happens. Whatever else may be I think its fair to say the right side of Australian politics as it currently stands is dead.