By Peter McCarthy
In political history Australia generally follows America by about a decade, although that distance may have shortened up more recently. And by watching the US we have avoided the more extreme outcomes like undue influence from religious elements or other extreme lobbyists.
We started to head in the same direction but pulled up short when enough of us realised what it leads to.
It has been to Australia’s benefit because we have much better healthcare, better industrial relations, more sensible gun laws, and generally offer our citizens much better support from the community than the more competitive US system where income has a much bigger say in your future than your ability.
Well after benefiting greatly from the US experience – simply by avoiding it – we now have the opportunity to return the favour, and as an added bonus we will be beneficiaries too if US voters take heed.
First some words of encouragement to the long suffering US voter.
We understand your frustration with the Republican Party who seem to have lost sight of the voter and can’t see beyond looking after those who provided the campaign funding. We recognise that it is your jobs that have been surrendered – in favour of higher profits of course – and we sympathize with you having to deal with politicians who talk big but walk small. They have made an art out of promising the world and delivering nothing (except, of course, to those who are already wealthy). The age old definition of such a politician is ‘snake oil salesman’.
We had the same problem here in Oz and we can show you what happens when you give the top job to someone – the snake oil salesman – who is not fit for it in any shape or form.
For your education I offer Tony Abbott; a man comparable to Donald Trump in many ways. Tony was our previous Prime Minister until he was swiftly removed by his Party – a fate that could also await presidential hopeful Donald Trump (if indeed he can get the job in the first place). Need I mention, you had better have a darn good Vice President on standby?
Tony talked big and had the confidence levels really only possessed by the less thoughtful in politics. Where others see competing opportunities and complex risks, the “get stuff done” guys roar straight in and then find something was overlooked. A good example of this was George “Dubya” Bush’s unfortunate “Mission Accomplished” banner that will follow him to his grave. Where others remembered the Sesame Street axiom “think what happens next” poor Dubya was out the door and committed before the analysis was complete. The tragedy continues to this day.
It was the same problem for Tony as well. Have a thought bubble then get the spin doctors on the job and keep your fingers crossed. If that isn’t Trump to a tee then I don’t know what is. Both men also seem blissfully unaware that the Internet is standing there recording every thought bubble and back flip and both find themselves being caught out by silly comments or inconsistencies. To make matters worse, both try to deny previous comments when a simple Google search will reveal to them, and everyone else who cares, that they are being untruthful. When you consider that both men claim to be honest, and not your standard pollie, it looks especially silly.
Both man have achieved some success with their bullying style and this has the unfortunate side effect of them having a high opinion of their abilities. In Tony’s case, he thought he was pretty smart when it comes to economics, when in actual fact he was a disaster when it came to balancing the Budget and clearing out his famous ‘Black Hole’. In reality he tripled the size of the problem and was only saved from public embarrassment by having an ego that simply ignored the data.
The huge red flag in Donald’s case is his comment that he was going to be his own most trusted advisor. Full marks for confidence but zero for getting clever outcomes. You need quality thinkers to run the US. Knee jerk reactions are the last thing you want. As if to confirm his ignorance, Trump proudly proclaimed he would be unpredictable in foreign relations. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that the world only survives by knowing what is and is not acceptable to your opponents. Unpredictable equals warfare when you misjudge what you can get away with.
Tony also had a huge problem with international relationships. He simply didn’t understand that you have to leave the bully boy style at home. Each time he had an involvement with Indonesia we had to send our Foreign Minister in to repair the damage. Tony’s current opinion of his record? He still thinks he was good at it despite all the evidence to the contrary.
And that is probably the biggest problem with both these chaps. When you think you are smarter than you actually are, you don’t realise there may be a better way and that you should be talking to experts to get the very best outcomes.
In Australia, that led to Tony being ousted by his party, which is no mean feat for the Liberals where the leader has more autonomy than their opponents have. But he simply had to go once the level of destruction he was delivering was recognised as electoral carnage.
The Republicans are going to have the same problem with Trump. The party will need to be re-badged or reformed to remove the stain of Donald’s fingerprints. When folk measure his performance against other presidents there will be no escaping that Trump is a Republican.
Pollsters are tipping that Trump will fail badly but I’m not so sure and we can see another comparison with Oz in this matter. Before he won the Election, Tony was a loose cannon in his party. Thought bubbles abounded as did back flips that were driven by his audience. While appearing at a ‘red neck’ speaking engagement he annouynced that “global warming is crap” while a week later he appeared before a crowd that cared about the environment and declared that “global warming is real”. For all of one week he was the poster boy of the Climate Change deniers.
To anyone thinking clearly about his claimed honesty, this should have been a big red flag, but in actual fact it wasn’t. Folk mistook enthusiasm for integrity and he and his Media mates ran a campaign that was basically “I’m not the Labor party”.
You can expect the same approach from the Trump camp (with the same media magnate pushing the smear campaign). For some strange reason folk don’t seem to be expecting the mother of all smear campaigns from Donald but what else does he have to work with? He has to get every friend and every dollar into the attack, and as we have seen before in the US, there is a lot of money and there is a lot of integrity for sale in US politics.
If Americans get this wrong and vote for an unsafe pair of hands, not only will their economy suffer and more of their kids be coming home in body bags, so the rest of the world will be adding to the death toll unless they step back and leave Donald friendless.
Fingers crossed that US voters can see beyond the snake oil, but a good number of them appear to really want to hurt the Republican party by preferring Donald, and if he can destroy Hillary’s credibility, he may just bring more instability into a world that already has plenty on offer.
Also by Peter McCarthy: