We continue the countdown to our Top 5 most viewed articles in 2023. Number 4 goes to Grumpy Geezer for this piece from October:
A farce only a monster could love
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The ‘No’ campaign and the Trumpifaction of the tinpotato
It has been said that Donald Trump appealed to many millions of Americans because he gave them permission to be the very worst of what they always were. In a divided and acrimonious USA a scandal-weary public has become numbed to the orange Trumplethinskin’s outrages, while others have gleefully embraced them.
The botoxed, duck-lipped Fox News Barbies, the goateed ammosexuals, the evangelical god fodder, antisemites, trailer trash and white supremacists, the defiantly ignorant oicks, evolutionary dead-enders, low information, chuckleheaded moon units, the proto-nazi authoritarians and the kooks and goons admire his cruelty. They like the hideous aspects of his character. An increasingly desperate Trump may be headed to prison but Trumpism lives on in the GOP. He has normalised the nasty.
“MAGA voters won’t change. They’re in a statist, authoritarian cult driven by racial animus, lurid conspiracy twaddle, and a corrupt media-entertainment outrage complex that has conditioned them to constant outrage with a steady drip of agitprop.” (Rick Wilson – American political strategist and former member of the Republican Party).
Meanwhile here in Oz, Trumpism hasn’t just infiltrated the L/NP it has been embraced by them.
P. Duddy and the biggest collection of halfwits and felons to ever pollute the political discourse of this country have, through their successful sabotage of the Voice referendum, established the template for their future behaviour – imported American culture wars (“the woke agenda”, “the radical left”, undefined “elites”, whatever “other” scapegoat du jour comes in handy), outrage politics, manufactured grievance and the deployment of an overflowing Trumpian swill bucket of lies and distortions. And season that with some of Spud’s not so secret sauce – good ol’ Howardesque racism.
Pulling out all stops to destroy the Yes campaign for purely political purposes as they always intended and then blame Labor for its failure is Trumpian in its chutzpah – peeing through our letter box then ringing the doorbell to ask us how far it went¹. Coached by apparatchiks from the US Republican party with its capacity for excess and extremism the Spud has taken to GOP perfidy as a supplement to his natural FUD instincts and his ‘oppose everything’ Mad Abbott-redux mendacity. The Voice referendum saw Spud’s Trumpy play – field testing the efficacy of blatant falsehoods where truth becomes meaningless, his lies, one after another, his hole-in-the-bucket pretext for ever more details “flooding the zone with shit” and denying space for challenges to his deceit while directing resentment at some manufactured grievance all while going unchallenged by a lazy or complicit media.
To further his own base ambitions Herr Shickltuber has shown he will abandon truth as a foundational principle of a functional democracy. Remember, this guy is so appalling the Tories chose the fabulist Skiddy Morrison over him. He’s less popular than herpes but as with the American’s Tangerine Man he’s now tapped into the worst in us via his Voice duplicity, one element of which is the anti-elitist from the Chairman’s Lounge and the Tories’s tame aborigine who gave the racists permission to openly piss into the hand generously offered by indigenous Australians. “A weaponised conservative woman who can say things out loud that white conservatives haven’t dared to say since the early 1960s²” Jacinta Nampijinpa Price gave Spud his “some of my best friends are Aborigines” cover for kicking our First Peoples when they are down.
While we in Oz have our share of the comfortably dumb, window lickers, frank spankers and people whose faces are too small for their heads are we not immune to the American’s port-a-loo in a cyclone Trumpism? We flatter ourselves that we’re more egalitarian, we’re the land of the fair go, we’re fair dinkum rugged individuals who can think for ourselves and who look after our mates. As the ‘Yes’ option in the Voice referendum got torched we were rudely awakened to what a load of old flannel that self-image is. Could it be that instead we’re a nation of timorous Chicken Littles who in 1999 declined the opportunity to put our big boy pants on and become a republic? Frightened, nay-saying, gullible, gormless dullards, wilfully ignorant, selfish, compliant sooks lacking in imagination and ambition?
There is some comfort that many millions of us supported the Voice, and that the systemic disadvantage of indigenous lives has been brought to the fore so that even the nasties must acknowledge its reality (while denying any accountability for enshrining it). But large swathes of the public who inhabit the trailing end of the decency bell curve have been gamed by a nasty campaign of racist tropes.
Not once did Spud, his pet dragon – the less than fully shevelled LeyZ Sussan or that feral fright wig in a pants suit the egregious Michaelia Cash call out any of this repugnant behaviour – the standard they all walked past. Instead there have been Trumpian attacks on our institutions including the courts, the AEC and government itself.
Trump: “The electon was rigged.”
Spud: “…I don’t think we should have a process that’s rigged and that’s what the prime ministers tried to orchestrate from day one.”
The mere idea of Old Chum Dutton as PM is sticking a Grange label on a goon bag. He’s a physical palindrome – afflicted with Zachary’s disease he’s an arse whichever way you look at him. A visionless plodder who confuses bullying the powerless with strength, validating willful ignorance as a legitimate excuse for nastiness – “if you don’t know, vote no”. Tories prefer their electors to be uninformed and apathetic.
His bald-faced, opportunistic tarring of Albo with the Alan Joyce stigma – “hanging out with Alan Joyce, red carpet events and, you know, they’re besties having dinner together, all the rest of it”.
His risible claim that the rabidly anti-union, low wagers are the party of working Australians.
In government the Tories needed the parameters of common decency to be written down – perhaps not so much to provide guidance on what constitutes acceptable behaviour from adults but as a means of identifying loopholes. Spud has no core beliefs about anything. He makes it up as he goes along.
The Tories’ pals from Advance’s stated tactic of instructing its volunteers to use fear and doubt rather than facts to defeat the Voice.
The Tories have a shared ethos of the increasingly rabid right – neo-Nazis, cookers, Karens, heirs of the murderous squatters, the Christian Taliban, racists suddenly discovering they’re against racism. Given the success of the right-wing baggers’ carpet bombing of a polite invitation to progress reconciliation we will now see an orange-tinted potato amping up the lies and misinformation.
When tested do we manifest anger and hostility to defend an identity that is based on dominance? Are we susceptible to far-right ideology that attacks democracy and normalizes violence against progressive agendas and liberal values³? Post-Howard the Tories are a party of opposition and resentment playing on fears and prejudices defined by what they’re against. The Liberal Party of Robert Menzies has devolved into authoritarian demagoguery while the Nationals, as ever, just tag along for the free ride.
‘No’ voters have not only denied First Peoples a means to improve their systemically disadvantaged lives they have also endorsed Dutton’s Trumpification of Oz politics where truth, integrity and fidelity are entirely dispensable.
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¹ Author Maureen Lipman
² Tony Wright, SMH
³ Trumpism, the extreme far-right ideology – opendemocracy.net
“Importing US approaches into Australia [during election campaigns] has rarely worked … but a referendum is very different,” said Axel Bruns, a professor in Queensland University of Technology’s digital media research centre. “The choice is more similar to US voting. You can run these polarising, polarised campaigns that are about two stark choices”. The Guardian.
Peter rabid. Rachel Withers, The Monthly.
Stunt man. Rachel Withers, The Monthly.
“Compare that with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s latest op-ed in the Herald Sun, which is riddled with misleading statements and scaremongering. He continues to claim we do not have the detail about the Voice – we do – and that the High Court could give the Voice to Parliament undue power – it can’t. He says the constitution has been a source of stability for 122 years – in fact, Australians have voted to change it eight times. Dutton called the Voice “the most consequential change to our system in history”. In 1967 we quite literally voted to give the Commonwealth the power to make special laws for Indigenous people, and to count Indigenous people as people in the census (they were never covered under a flora and fauna act, however, as the ABC debunked) – rather more significant changes than an advisory body, one might think.” (Crikey).
“If the world’s post-truth era is just getting started, and if the Coalition is determined to take advantage of it, then the last few weeks will seem, in hindsight, quite mild. And in case you don’t think things can get worse, remember this: every time you’ve thought that in the past two decades, they did.” (Sean Kelly, SMH).
“Opposition Leader Peter Dutton always looks sincere. The trouble is that he says things that are objectively untrue, things he cannot possibly believe.” (Michael Bradley. Crikey).
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