It was 2016 when the then Vice President of the United States of America Joe Biden last visited Australia. On that occasion I was fortunate to hear him speak twice. Both times the sincere love he has for our country hung on every word.
Australians have always had a sort of love-hate relationship with America. Whilst we come from an English heritage, it has been the United States that has had the most influence on our maturing.
You agree, guys?
We have followed America into wars that were none of our concern yet we did so because allies help each other. We jump at their command. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
We are in many ways just like them.
We have alliances that almost guarantee our national safety. Their culture has become ours much to the detriment of our own.
Our relationship with America under Biden will grow but at the same time China will be anxious about it, wanting Australia to respect its rise as a super power. We can and must do better.
At present Australia’s politics still exists behind the Trump brand with lies and falsehoods. For example, Scott Morrison is still insisting that we would reach our Kyoto targets. This is a blatant lie that he continues to tell.
We can met them if we use the credits we were given to make sure we joined Kyoto and to use them only says that we didn’t try nearly hard enough.
Australia is the only country that has said it intends to use carryover credits for its Paris target. In any case the Kyoto credits are likely to be withdrawn before the next meeting.
If Morrison continues with his own particular brand of Trump style politics, he too might suffer the same fate as Trump.
Whether or not the Democrats win the Senate, Biden has promised that his presidency will push allies to reduce emissions.
This has major repercussions for Australia. If Morrison stands his ground then tensions could rise. More possible is that we may have to take climate change seriously. Imagine if he got himself offside with both Biden and Xi Jinping.
After four years of Trump’s daily tweets Australians could be heard “shouting enough is enough.” Well at least half of us have been shouting..
We too have become partisan in our politics. Half of us seem to like the morose shouty, “look at me,” politics of the Trumpish Morrison. The other half like the calm body politic of the sage, old Joe Biden.
We have grown up with their music be it pop, jazz or theatre. Their television is over represented on our screens. The Americanisation of Australia is all but complete.
Their sports have become second nature to us as have the artistic creations of Hollywood. We have accepted the American inclination toward scandal and sleaze. We also suffer from both political and social narcissism.
Our natural inclination for technology has seen us take up their originations at unprecedented levels. It is said in economics that if America catches a cold then we get the flu.
Its endless unwinnable wars are bankrupting it but they don’t seem to care and go on spending more on defence than the rest of the world put together.
We have also suffered from Trumpism.
The science of climate change shows that we are looking at an impending environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions, but like many of us the US refuses, as they do with evolution, to believe it. Trump believes global warming to be a hoax stemming from China. Our government believes it to be a socialist plot.
Biden intends to reverse this travesty of human comprehension.
In the US 22 million people live in poverty. Inequality in both our countries is a problem with only the left of politics willing to address it.
Since its arrival on US shores COVID-19 – besides killing in excess of 230,000 people – it has sent many thousands more into poverty says a report from Columbia University.
The right didn’t give a damn.
Trickle-down economics and de-industrialisation are responsible but the right cling to the god of capitalism, that believes that making the rich even richer will solve the problem.
Religion has a rather odd hold on the most technologically advanced country in the world but we are more circumspect and Christianity is in decline and is likely to disappear in two or three decades. Church attendance in Australia has declined from 44% in 1950 to just 16% today.
The rich citizens and the big corporations of both countries seem to have ‘boycotted’ paying tax. Corruption reigns supreme and the conservatives dodge any move that might have its party investigated.
Corruption runs rampant in both countries. Both are loath to tackle political exploitation- afraid of what may be revealed. A move to have an oversight body in Australia is being hindered by a reluctant government that faces many scandals.
President Trump faces over 1,000 law suits as soon as he leaves office. What a circus that will be.
While in Australia we don’t have periodic mass killings of children at schools, malls, movie theatres and other public places, however there are those who would soften our gun laws.
Fortunately, we don’t have the problem of police committing public executions of black people in our streets but only a fool would deny that we have an element of racism.
Like America, the reality is that we have a media that produces an avalanche of political and cultural untruths. Stories are just made up. A petition of 500,000 signatures is being presented to the Australian Parliament this week for a Royal Commission into the bias of the Murdoch press. Its bias is based on the assumption that in a declining market it is legitimate to lie and disseminate political, intellectual and cultural discourse with a perverse sensationalism, emotionalism and pathetic dishonesty to arrest this declining market.
American and Australian media are saturated with highly-paid right-wing commentators whose job it is to titillate, gossip and contaminate the airwaves and television screens with nonsensical garbage where people talk up negative possibilities.
Selling advertising comes first and it’s done in any manner it can be. Mass entertainment, both violent and sexually explicit, contaminates the cultural life of both our countries.
American reality television conspired in Trump to produce a ‘reality’ presidential candidate. “There’s no business-like show business.”
Now that the “I know more about anything” President has been defeated by Biden there is a chance of returning to the sensible centre that once made American democracy a guiding light in a world looking for freedom.
”I will make America great again,” Trump shouted from the highest pillars of the mountain of illusion.
Millions of Americans have ‘woken up’. The dream has ended. The promise that everyone can be whoever they want to be and have whatever they want, if they would just work hard, and trust in God, is dying.
American exceptionalism, the land of milk and honey belongs to a bygone era. If it ever did.
In Australia we feel powerless to have any influence in what we thought was an inclusive democracy. We are just spectators, hostages to broken systems of government. Chaos abounds and the common good has been forgotten. The political, cultural and intellectual discourse of Australia has been effectively muted by the contamination of those who would seek power for power’s sake. It must be reversed.
Conservatives have successfully stifled the intellectual exchange of ideas. Australia has a compulsory voting system and America a non-compulsory one. Neither serves the people well.
In Australia, capitalistic neoliberal ideology has won the day and we must follow America’s example and give the other mob a go.
The lack of transparency, uncontrolled capitalism, corruption and the death of truth are of themselves cause for great concern.
Sure, both societies have advanced but the price is gauged by the exploitation of the poor and middle classes.
The price we have paid for our progress is measured in wars and seductive illusions about our culture. Our quality of life has become a perception. Not ‘what is’ but what we perceive it to be.
And in our powerlessness, we listen to the voices of the absurd, to the promises of demigods and racists in the absence of ideas about how to fix our comparative democracies.
It’s called long-suffering irrationalism. We no longer have the patience or desire to soberly examine policies that effect our lives and politics has been relegated by the media to a 24/7 sideshow.
In America the voice of Trump was heard by those who cannot see that the great American dream has ended and those who have lost faith in institutionalised politics see no future.
In Australia the voice of the far right has gained a foothold because people have become dissatisfied with our institutionalised democracy. Our government produces slogans and promises repetitively until the people are conned into believing them. They deal in the illusions of social progress and prosperity. They refuse to acknowledge any reality that might concern us about the future.
The people either don’t vote or think they gain a voice by voting for extremists. Few people trust our politicians or have faith in our system of government.
We live a life of permanent malaise and think little about what makes our nation work until the next election come around. Chris Hedges spelt it out this way:
”Life is lived in an eternal present. How we got here, where we came from, what shaped us as a society, in short, the continuum of history that gives us an identity, are eradicated.”
What Australians dislike about Americans is their pomposity and self-righteousness, their know-all attitude and belief in their own self-importance, for which we have a saying: “They think their shit doesn’t stink.” Some would say that they are the only people in the world that believe their own bullshit.
Whatever happens in America (apart from frequent mass murders), usually reinvents itself in Australia. Greed is now God. Paying tax has become a sport with no rules. Narcissism is rampart and religion has more to say than it should.
How did it come to this?
It did so because we allowed ourselves to believe the lies. We fell for the mantra of hatred and fear they so delicately indoctrinated us with.
We allowed ourselves to be conned into believing that poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.
Good democracies can only deliver good government and outcomes if the electorate demands it. Unfortunately, we have forgotten just what that means.
The United States of America has cleaned up its act. So, should we.
They had their say after four years of a cringeworthy leader.
My thought for the day
The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you.
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