For them, the past was a better place.
And so each incoming LNP federal government promises to windback the clock.
We thought Abbott and his cabinet wanted to windback to the Howard years.
The Budget warns us we were wrong.
These guys want to go back to a world before Whitlam helped create modern Australia.
Their opponents in today's ALP are the beneficiaries of the Whitlam reforms; particularly in education.
When I read the first speeches of new ALP members in 2007, education emerged as a strong theme.
Many of these fresh ALP caucus members, swept in on a pro-environment and anti-workchoices wave, noted that their opportunity to get a higher education was due to Whitlam's vision and policies.
Universal healthcare, however, was Whitlam's great achievement; secured against bitter conservative opposition and only after a double dissolution.
Fraser partially dismantled universal healthcare; and Hawke later reversed this winding back; with the urging and support of the union movement through the Accord process.
By the time of Howard's 1996 electoral triumph, the Coalition had ostensibly given up its decades long fight against the most important social reform in post-war Australia.
So we thought.
But Abbott has re-engaged the battle with renewed vigour.
This Government wants our health system pushed back 40 years.
As it does education.
It is attacking needs-based funding in school education, opening up a wound in the Australian community that Menzies was the first PM to address.
Abbott is moving to make wealth once again more important than merit in higher education.
The conservatives hate the fact that their ALP opposition is just as well-educated, often better educated, than their own MPs.
They want a proper blue-collar labor party, but not one supported by unions.
They hate Whitlam and his reforms for foisting this modern ALP on them.
There are plenty of other examples emerging of just how retrograde Abbott's vision is.
The watering down of the racial discrimination act, the weakenning of the human rights commission and the slashing of funding for indigenous, childcare and disability are part of a desire to re-establish the white male as paramount in our society.
When they attack the so-called age of entitlement, they are really attacking the pillars of modern, Whitlamite Australia where concerns about access were more important than reducing the tax rate for business and rich individuals.
The first Abbott Budget does more to promote inequality in Australia than anything we have seen in recent decades.
Until now, after Whitlam, conservatives have tried to dress up their attacks on equality and fairness.
The Abbott Government, impatient with the failures of Fraser and Howard, has adopted a far more divisive approach.
It made a few token gestures towards fairness but, basically the Budget is a first installement in the Abbott agenda of winding back the equality and fairness that Whitlam, Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard have all strived to insert into Australian national life.
The Budget attacks the poor and middle-class while ignoring the rorts the rich enjoy through the tax and super systems. This was no accident - it is deliberate.
And the biggest stalking horse of all is Abbott's efforts to get rid of Labor's commitment to a national system of government and revert to a pre-federation style competition between increasingly impoverished states.
The intended victims of this charade are the poor and the middle class.
Abbott knows the states will be forced to cut spending - he wants them to do it.
Australia is at a turning point. And Abbott is no moderate, no centrist, not even a genuine conservative.
Abbott is to the right what Whitlam was to the left. Abbott has a program, an ideological agenda and he is going to crash through or crash.