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The Appeal Of Donald Trump, The Political Bones Of Peter Dutton And Other Carcases!

A few weeks ago, Peter Dutton expressed the view that Turnbull didn’t have a “political bone in his body”. While political commentary tends to be about politics, I’m often more interested in the subtext behind any comment that a politician makes.

I mean, are we meant to conclude that this is a bad thing and that members of Parliament are meant to be composed of poltical bones? Are we also meant to presume that Peter Dutton considers himself to have lots and lots of political bones? If so, where were they buried when he stuffed up his leadership challenge? Or when he was Health Minister? Or well, just about every time he opens his mouth?

As I’ve written before, there are  basically two ways to approach politics. One is to do whatever is necessary to win power because, with power, one can do what one really wants to do. The danger with this approach is that one keeps adapting and changing to win power and one forgets to actually do what one really wanted to do in the first place. The second approach is to change the narrative so that your opponents end up doing some of the things you wanted in order to be elected. This is usually the prefered tactic of a minor party with very little chance of winning, but sometimes a major party can shift the framing so that their opponent feels that they can’t actually oppose them. Take Kim Beasley’s speech about “The Tampa”, for example. Or Budget surpluses. You’d be a brave Labor leader to say that we actually need a deficit at the moment.

All of which brings me to Donald Trump.

When Donald Trump was elected, there were a lot of surprised people. I was one. I remember writing a few things that were critical of him. A couple of people jumped on me and asked how I could be so supportive of that war-monger Hillary. I checked what I had written and I can find absolutely nothing where I supported Clinton. Apparently, this was a binary thing where if you were critical of Trump, you must be a flag waving supporter of the United States. My surprise wasn’t because I thought that Hillary was great or that Obama had been perfect and a great force for positive change.  My surprise was that a person who was so clearly ill-equipped for the job, both intellectually and personally, actually won.

If I’d thought about it, I probably shouldn’t be surprised. People like easy answers to wicked problems and Trump was promising easy answers. “Don’t like drugs or immigrants? Simple, we’ll build a wall!” Now, those middle-class elites like me might want to argue that there’s very little point in building a wall on side of your country only, but if you’ve managed to convince people that all the bad things are coming from the south, then the wall only needs to be built on that side. Ok, it doesn’t solve the problem of people tunnelling underneath or sailing round it, but nobody was arguing that the wall needed to be longer and deeper, so Trump’s solution sounds ok if you say it quickly.

Of course, this makes me sound like Hillary Clinton calling Trump voters “the deplorables”. Many people voted for Trump for the same reason that people vote for anybody – or indeed, why snake oil salesmen have been so effective over the years: He offered HOPE.

It’s fine to say, as some did, “Make America Great? America is great and it’s just offensive to say it isn’t.” If you’ve lost your job, or you’re struggling to make ends meet even though you have a fulltime job with both Amazon and the local fast food store, you know that something is wrong. When the narrative is just be grateful you have a roof over your head, and if you haven’t, well, that’s your fault because in this country anyone who tries hard enough will be successful, then a reality TV star who tells you that politics is broken and we need to drain the swamp sounds more appealing than all those other messages.

Of course, for the past fifty years we’ve been fed the narrative by business and economists that the good times are over, we need to tighten our belts and work harder, because it’s a competitive world and your payrise may cost you your job, so don’t complain, because things are tough. Ok, ok, business profits are soaring and the top executives now earn a much higher multiple of the average wage than they did in 1980, but you want the best person in the job or your company might be unprofitable and then you’d lose your job so just be grateful that we have Roger Superstar as CEO. Well, yes, he did nearly send the company broke with a couple of recent decisions, but that’s no reason not to give him the bonus even if it is more money than you’ll earn in the next twenty years.

So, as “The Financial Review” warns Bill Shorten about class warfare and the politics of envy, I have to laugh. Yes, its readers will all tut-tut and tell themselves that it’s big business that creates wealth and taxation is theft so shouldn’t we get a refund on the tax we don’t pay, the people struggling with their bills have already decided that something needs to change. Labor aren’t starting a class war; they’re simply describing it and suggesting that maybe we need to start looking after some of the wounded who’ve been ignored till now.

“Labor is all about higher taxes!” cry Scott and Josh, while crowing that next Budget they’ll take more in tax than they give back in services. “Lower energy prices are just around the corner,” announces the Coalition. “Good times are coming,” they tell us. “We’ve cleaned up the mess and stopped the boats. Not only that Australia Day will be celebrated by all and there’ll be dress codes and standards and everything will be just like it was when Menzies was a young bloke.”

But the electorate has been rubbing the snake oil on to the bits that really hurt ever since axing the carbon “tax” failed to make us all as rich as Tony promised.

The pain, it seems, hasn’t gone away.

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25 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    I like the snake oil salesman analogy – that’s it in a nutshell. People at the bottom of the pile always want to believe the person who tells them he can fix it (not C Pyne, no-one believes him)
    I think Bill is on the right path – gosh, any path other than the current one would be better !!

  2. mark delmege

    What gets me is why anyone here would want to support either side in the USofA.
    .
    Obama might have looked good and even sounded cool sometimes but many of his policies were down right horrific.

    Trump looks and sounds like a clown and many of his policies are downright foolish or worse.

    But I’m sure the President has far less power than most people think.

    Its an empire, a machine and the logic of its being will continue no matter who fronts as leader.

    Still… there are times when a presumptive will say things that are counter to prevailing policies that are a step in a better direction and I’d argue that (policy) should be supported right up until it isn’t.

  3. helvityni

    Abbott was a joke, Trump is equally so…at least, let’s rejoice, we did not get Dutton…( but I’m afraid it’s still possible)….

  4. nonsibicunctis

    So, Rossleigh, what is it that you are attempting to tell us all?

  5. The AIM Network

    mark delmege, I can’t work out why you comments keep getting lost in the system, but I just tweeked a few things and hopefully it won’t happen again.

  6. The AIM Network

    nonsibicunctis, Rossleigh is entertaining us.

  7. Bronte ALLAN

    Well said Rossleigh! I agree with every thing you have said, & can only add that any of these so-called “politicians” (sic) we have trying to run our country are so bad the entire lot could be sacked & this country would still be better off, even if the Labor lot were not sacked! And as for the trumster, what else can we say other than his wall stupidity was originally suggested by him that Mexico would pay for it. Hilary Clinton would have made a far better bloody President than the trumpster, than again Mickey Mouse would make a far better President than this lying, inept, sexist pig could ever be! And as for dustton etc, they MUST all go at the next Federal Election, or God help Australia (& I am not a religious person!)

  8. Peter F

    The US might be able to build a wall from coast to coast, but can they stop the boats?

  9. terence mills

    Mark Delmege

    Obama might have looked good and even sounded cool sometimes but many of his policies were down right horrific.

    I don’t doubt that you are correct but could you point me to some of the horrific policies of the Obama administration ; three or four will cement your thesis.

    But I’m sure the President has far less power than most people think.

    I think there are many Americans who are looking at their Constitution and wondering whether it is as democratic as they thought. Clearly this Emperor without clothes has used the Executive Order and threats of National Emergencies to bypass the legislature and do the bidding of his base who are not in any sense representative of the majority or even the average American.
    The thing about Executive Orders which having bypassed the Congress and are not enshrined in legislation is that they can be rescinded by a future president. Just as Trump did to the safeguards Obama introduced for Dreamers.

  10. Robin

    Terence mills.

    Obama oversaw 5,000,000 families,yes families,booted out of their homes under foreclosure.

    He bailed out the banks in a country where 50% of people earn under $30,000 a year.The richest country in the world.

    He turned 2 Bush wars into 7.

    He massively ramped up drone strikes in sovreign countries,a war crime,which by any credible source,kill 90% civilians.

    He put more low income,uneducated american soldiers into Afghanistan,Iraq and Syria-war crimes.

    He turned the most prosperous,progressive country on the African continent,Libya,into rubble.Luckily the people still have a way to make money there because there are now SLAVE AUCTIONS on the streets of tripoli(or would that be foreign Jihadi maniacs funded by USA,Israel and Saudi Arabia),and USA gets their natural resources,of course.Ghadaffi’s weapons ended up killing Syrian civilains,funneled through Turkey.Funny how that works.

    He went to Flint Michigan and told the mostly african american citizens to drink the poisoned water.

    He set the now militarised US police onto the peaceful occupy protesters.

    I could go on mate. It’s called research,you should try it some time.

    And now he makes untold millions giving speeches to the banks he bailed out.

    Just saying,since you tossed it up.

  11. mark delmege

    I think Robin nailed it. My top 3 would have been
    Destroying Libya
    Arming jihadist to destroy Syria
    Running a coup in Ukraine
    Authorising a global assassination program too was quite a doozy as was the redirection of wealth towards the most wealthy via QE.
    I’d say the top three all had horrific consequences.
    But really its the policies and not the personality of the front man that really matter.
    To be fair Obama helped make criticism of Israel legitimate and he did recognise that Iran actually didn’t have a nuclear weapons program.
    And I’m sure Trump will out do Obama on the enrichment of the most wealthy.
    A plus for Trump is that he has actually calmed tensions with North Korea and made steps to extricate the US from Syria and just maybe Afghanistan. And he has actually helped convince Saudi Arabia to abandon jihad insurgency as a national policy. Unfortunately for every good move – which lets be honest will be blocked by the military security apparatus there are many other policies that deserve the utmost condemnation.

  12. Robin

    Let’s not forget Yemen,a humanitarian disaster.
    Of the 28 million population,24 million are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
    The UN has arrived and are watching on as Saudi Arabia bombs ,and bombs etc.
    If the poor citizens of Yemen aren’t dying of starvation,cholera etc,they’re getting blown to b**locks and beyond by Raytheon/Boeing made bombs,aided and abetted by USA & Israel
    The port of Hodeieda is under blockade,a war crime,and guess who’s Royal Navy is there facilitating said blockade and genocide.

    I’ll give you a clue..Christopher Pine who,under Abbott destroyed manufacturing in this country for idealogical reason,ie the car industry was UNIONISED. Can’t have that.But now his brilliant plan is to make Australia an arms exporter. What could possibly go wrong?

    No medicine and no food getting through to the poorest country in the world,much like the Palestinian genocidal model employed by Israel.

  13. whatever

    Trump has delivered the RWNJ wet dream of Small Government by blocking supply.

  14. wam

    the rabbott and trump are the sopwith camels of politics: someone starts the engine and away they go machines guns blazing..
    They have no instruments, no safety mechanisms. Just fuel up, reload and take off for a new start every day.

    (The Sopwith Camel was known for quick spins and … a tendency to pull rightward because of the large, high-torque rotary engine.”)

    Most of us have come a long was from the times of the biplane. But there are millions who believe in their no nonsense approach and do not consider any personal consequences of their actions and agree with the measures to curb muslims, immigrants and dole bludgers. Sadly there are heaps of politically correct haters and they all have sunburnt napes.

  15. Phil Atkinson

    I believe it’s wrong to say that Trump has “appeal”. Yes, a lot of people voted for him, but some 3 million more voted for Hillary Clinton. The only way Trump got elected was due to the US Electoral College system. Also, consider that out of some 200 million eligible voters, there was a voter turn-out on election day of just over 50% – almost 100 million voters stayed at home in disgust and refused to vote. Out of those that did vote, Trump received about 50% of that vote – so he only has the backing of roughly one quarter of US voters.

    Trump’s “appeal” is based solely on his claim he was going to “drain the swamp”, a populist notion aimed at those who were and are disaffected with US politics. They believed Trump was their saviour. They were so wrong.

  16. Kronomex

    Robin (@4.51 PM),

    “He went to Flint Michigan and told the mostly African American citizens to drink the poisoned water.”

    If you watch Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” he does a piece about Obama and the “drinking” of Flint water. If you watch the footage closely you will notice that he quickly raises the glass to his closed mouth and then puts it down. Yep, he really cared. What a great photo opportunity that stunt was for him.

  17. Rossleigh

    True, Phil, but that still leaves quite a number of people who found his message appealing. And, while they certainly may eventually realise that they were wrong, for now a lot are still rubbing in the snake oil and telling themselves that they feel better already.

  18. Robin

    Phil.
    Agreed.
    But I think the only American citizen on the planet who could lose to Trump-and Trump attacked her from the left in the presidential race-was Hillary, warmonger,corporatist,we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton.But wait,wasn’t her cos,LOOK,RUSSIA!!
    Trump’s put an ugly face on an ugly regime.
    Obama was pretty,spoke nice and fooled us all.Yes He Couldn’t and shame on him.
    America is addicted to war,and those profiting have way more power than a mere POTUS.
    The Penatgon can’t account for 22 Trillion dollars. Gone. Not sure where.Ne’er mind. Now. Iran….
    And I appeal to anyone,please watch some Putin on you tube..He makes sense,no slogans.He wants peace,commerce and an end to imperialism in his neighbourhood.
    And Russia,China and Iran are literally sorrounded by some of the thousand plus US bases around the world. Russia has 8.
    Why are we,Australia, in Afghanistan?
    Iraq?
    Syria?
    Yemmen?
    And “terrorism” don’t cut it cos as far as I can tell,you can’t have a war on a tactic.

    It costs $2.5 million to launch 1 bombing raid,all things totalled up,not to mention the lives that raid destroys of people who can’t fight back. Bring the troops home and desist with this farcical theater.

  19. Robin

    FDR,I think it was him but I stand corrected in advance,said the likes of: anyone who makes money in politics is corrupt.
    I believe the Toowoomba flatfoot is now worth $20 million.
    Allegedly.
    And also has the cross dressing,odd type Hoover dirt on everyone,that’s EVERYONE..
    Remember when he came into parliament with 2 folders with Labor front benchers names on them?
    Above strange.
    That’s dopey,retarded spud alright. Can’t count,hangs about with Plegms who can’t count either.
    Allegedly.

  20. Robin

    Ooh,meant Flems

    Maybe,although cigars will do that to you….

  21. Robin

    *Phlegms.
    It’s a play on words
    Mucous,sadly spelt wrong thus tarnishing my clever Cormann put down.
    hey ho,he’s stilla pr**k

  22. David Bruce

    If Hillary was elected president, Australia would have troops in Russia too! Syria, Iran and Russia are on the Murdoch-Cheney-Rothschild list of 7 countries in 5 years. The timetable has slipped and I admire the way Putin plays chess on the international chess board!

    Trumps knows how to gain and use position power. His key strength is in negotiations. He causes chaos then seeks to restore order, to his advantage. Having shut down the US Government, he has pulled the plug on the swamp! With luck, the US states will start to pick up the pieces!

    My hope is that one day soon, we will all wake up to the fact that jewish science (Newton, Einstein etc) has hog tied the western world to the prison planet. We will never really understand our solar system, our galaxy and beyond if we ignore the German science of Kepler. While we are navel gazing on our current predicament, with help from the Murdoch media, China, Russia and most of the non aligned nations are opening up trade routes and looking beyond the constraints of our prison planet.

    So what are ScuMo and his scumbags doing for Australia? They are going to be Arms Dealers, the Merchants of Death, to those who fail to obey!

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