I’ve been watching the American race for president for a while now. Like the rest of the world, at first I thought, “Trump is obviously the joke candidate, brought in for some light relief.” But, it’s gone beyond a joke now. In fact, it’s become both disturbing and rather frightening. It looks most likely that he will win the Republican nomination. If he wins the election, he may be the next president of the United States. (God help us all.)
I’ve been having a sense of political deja vu. Before our last election, there were plenty of people who warned us that Mr Abbott was not a good candidate for Prime Minister. The more people made fun of his idiosyncrasies, the more his weaknesses and foibles were pointed out, the more people leaped to his defence. The same seems to be happening with Mr Trump. I hear, “He’s not afraid to speak his mind”; “He’s an intelligent man”; “He knows what he’s talking about”; “We should treat him with respect”….and I think, “Oh no. He’s smart enough to make everyone overlook how smart he isn’t.” He knows how to manipulate people’s fears so that they will think he’s the only one who will be able to protect them from the rest of the big scary world. Unfortunately, if he becomes president, the world will become even scarier.
The difference between the two democracies of America and Australia is that in the U.S. people elect the president, independent of the rest of the party. In Australia, we elect the party and the party chooses who will be the leader. On the plus side for the Americans, they get a say in who will be the leader of the country. On the downside, they are then stuck with him for at least four years and maybe eight. Plenty of time to make a horrendous mess. In Australia the downside is that we have to accept the leader that the party chooses. The plus side is that if the leader turns out to be useless, too authoritarian, or too annoying, or who gets up the nose of the voting public, the party can get rid of them at any time and replace them with someone who may, or may not, do a better job. This has happened a number of times in the last four or five decades. And, even many of the staunchest L.N.P. voters were relieved when Mr Abbott was finally given the heave-ho.
Why am I even bothered by who will become the leader of another country? Because we’re talking about America. We have treaties with them. We’re allies. What America decides to do often means we get to do it, too, especially when it comes to war. (Eg: Vietnam; the Gulf War; the invasion of Iraq; the war in Afghanistan…) The ebb and flow of their economy affects the rest of the world. They’re big, they’re rich, they have lots of weapons and they’re not afraid to use them.
The world is changing. One of the biggest changes in countries with European foundations (including America and Australia) is the rising challenge to white people’s sense of entitlement and superiority. I think this is a good thing. Quite frankly, the horrors inflicted upon indigenous people around the world by white colonialists, is a permanent stain on our history. Racism, acknowledged by everyone as not acceptable, nevertheless is still endemic in our societies. It’s time that stuff is gone, once for all. Are the blacks in both our countries getting angrier and more assertive? Well I, for one, can understand why. But a lot of people find this a bit threatening.
Along comes an orange-skinned (is he perhaps a bit obsessed with eating carrots? Or is he a tall Oompa Loompa?), strangely-coiffed, narcissistic, pompous media whore, who says, “You can trust me to deal with this. If we don’t like ’em, we’ll nuke ’em” and all the frightened people think, “Oh thank the good Lord! Finally, a strong leader who will make us great again.”
I just wish we’d all start thinking a little more clearly with our brains, instead of other parts of our anatomies.