Labor’s loss surprised everyone. But did anyone ask Rich Dad?
I’ve been watching the post-election analysis come in, and if it’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that no one has any idea why Labor lost an ‘unlosable election’.
They were too aggressive and ambitious, or they weren’t aggressive and ambitious enough. The voters just tuned out, or they tuned in and didn’t like what they heard. It was their policies that lost them the election, or was it their personalities?
But since it seems any old pundit can float a theory about Labor’s loss, I thought I might have a crack too.
Labor lost because it is the ‘poor dad’ party.
I’ve been rereading Richard Kiyosaki’s classic ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ for another project I’m working on. (Stay tuned for that.) It’s over 20 years old now, but the wisdom is still timeless.
Remember, Richard was effectively raised by two dads: his poor dad, his biological father, and his rich dad, his friend’s father and Richard’s ultimate business mentor.
They embodied different philosophies. The poor dad philosophy said that you should get a good education so you can get a good, solid, high-paying job with lots of benefits.
The rich dad philosophy said that any security you got from your salary job was an illusion, and the way to be truly financially secure and independent was to take matters into your own hands – either through running businesses, or investing.
Sure, maybe if you’re a brain surgeon earning hundreds of thousands a year, you might be rich. But for most people working the daily grind, it’s not going to happen. You’re always going to be reliant on your employer or the government.
You will never be independent.
I think this is exactly right, and if you haven’t read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I’d definitely recommend it, but let’s come back to politics.
One of the puzzles that I heard one senior Labor figure worry about was why so many people seemed to be voting against their own interests.
Labor took a shamelessly redistributive platform to the election. Less tax cuts for the rich, increases in the minimum wage, more spending on welfare.
And yet, their vote in less wealthy electorates went down, while their vote in wealthier electorates went up?
What is up with that?
My sense is that they were trying to sell a poor dad message to a rich dad nation.
Labor’s promises to increase minimum wage and welfare was a pitch aimed at people living the poor dad lifestyle – completely reliant on their employer and the government for their financial fortune.
But I think Australia is a rich dad nation. We prize our independence. We’ll take a hand up, but are shy to take a hand out. We value opportunity more than we value safety-nets.
And so Labor’s promise was effectively to make the poor dad life-path less bumpy. But people don’t want the poor dad life path – even those people who are currently living it.
They want opportunity. They want independence. They want self-made security.
They want to be Rich Dads.
And so when Labor failed to speak to that, they failed to speak to what people, and less-wealthy people in particular, were really yearning for.
And so they lost.
That’s my theory. I’ve got no idea if it’s true or not, but that doesn’t seem to matter.
But my sense is that the times have changed. We’re a rich dad nation now.
And I couldn’t be happier about that.