Sitting on this side of the Pacific, it seems that the USA has chosen a new President after one term. A sitting President who is eligible for re-election has been defeated only 10 times in US history. While the razzle-dazzle and showbiz style of the US election campaigns is ongoing and seems to be accepted in the US, there are dangers in the hyper-partisan ‘geeing up’ of those that do get out and vote.
Some were certainly ‘geed up’; we saw Trump supporters in large Utes seemingly harassing a Biden Campaign bus on a major highway with Trump tweeting his support. Weeks after most of the votes have been counted, Trump only recently acknowledged the possibility of defeat while still spending millions of his supporters’ money in kite flying legal battles that won’t change the outcome. In comparison to Trump’s hyper-partisan statements and publicity, Biden looks — well, Presidential.
Trump has form in appending less than appealing names to political opponents — two of the better known ones are ‘sleepy Joe’ Biden and ‘crooked Hilary’ Clinton. We tell our kids that name calling is childish — why can a President get away with it? President-elect Joe Biden seems to be actively attempting to calm the US down by not bombarding social media with claims that are apparently not supportable, allowing the process to come to a natural conclusion and refusing to join in the name calling.
Australia probably has less interest in ‘geeing up’ supporters with mass rallies at one of the big sporting grounds as there is a legal obligation to get out and vote. In fact, you are more likely to meet your local candidates at the local shops, factory or transport hub — sometimes with one of the party leaders ready to listen to your individual concerns. In Australia, certain groups or positions are victimised in an effort to appeal to the larger population.
In recent weeks, a Sri-Lankan family living in Kempsey NSW have been threatened with deportation because the husband, father and ‘primary visa holder’ recently died of cancer. Obviously no one chooses to die of cancer and there is considerable angst and pain for families where someone is diagnosed with the illness. The family was a part of the community, they were employed, the children were in school, and they were members of various community groups. In short, the family was another of the untold success stories of Australian multiculturalism.
Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs Department observed that they are in little danger of persecution in Sri Lanka which maybe the case. But it is also hard for a bureaucrat somewhere in Australia to prove they have sufficient knowledge of the current Sri Lankan political and cultural situation as it affects this family to make that judgement. And while it might have been acceptable in the time of the bible for people to have to return to their home town for each census, these days we realise that people move around, blend in and contribute in all sorts of ways to their adopted community.
Using the same logic as Home Affairs has here, should all the Victorians who have migrated to Queensland over the past 20 years be forced to go back to where they came from when the person who earned the money in the partnership dies or moves on? Of course the proposition of sending all these Victorians home is ridiculous, just as the proposition of sending a Sri Lankan family home because the person who holds the visa died. How incredibly heartless.
All Australian Governments since the one led by John Howard have form in this area. Howard’s colleagues such as Peter Reith claimed that the refugees were throwing children overboard to secure rescue and passage to Australia, The claims were false. Since then successive governments, both Coalition and ALP, have attempted to demonstrate they are tougher on refugees than the previous government from the other side. Rudd’s ‘no refugee will stay in Australia’ is equally as harsh as the false claims of children overboard.
The Murugappan family from Biloela are still incarcerated on Christmas Island. They were taken from their home in 2018 in a dawn raid organised by the Home Affairs Department and transported against their will first to Melbourne, then Christmas Island. Again they are valued members of their community and there has been considerable protest by Biloela residents and others as well as considerable time in court to allow this harmless family return to their home, jobs and schools in Central Queensland.
Australia has motels across the country filled with refugees who have been there for years, and have done nothing wrong except look for a better life. We have migrant workers with incredible skills doing low skill work because no one has ever bothered to ask the question about the qualifications held by refugees, or the learnings and experience refugees can contribute to better our society. Sadly, it seems to have only got harder for refugees since The Political Sword published Number 982 in March 2014.
It seemed that a lot of Americans didn’t vote for Trump as they had realised the country was at rock bottom. Australia surely is also at its own nadir. We have had no climate emissions plan for a decade due to political infighting as discussed recently and the competition on which side of politics can be more horrible to refugees which is thought to win votes.
When those who are recovering from addiction are interviewed, a frequent discussion point is they realised they had hit rock bottom and someone or something gave them the impetus to commence the climb out of the abyss they found themselves in. Hopefully Biden is the impetus for the US to start climbing.
Is it too difficult to hope that enough Australians realise at the next Federal Election that we have hit rock bottom, and elect parliamentarians that can show us the way out of our climate change denial and refugee abyss?
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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