My father, seriously, told me at the beginning of year that he didn’t want to live long enough to see Donald Trump become President of the United States.
He firmly believed that Trump would win the Republican Primary and then the Presidency, because of his understanding of the American people from his many business trips there, and what he had learnt keeping a close eye on US politics ever since.
I told him not to worry, that no way Trump would, or could, win.
My father never lived long enough to see it happen, dying a few weeks ago.
But now it is a reality, the post mortems are starting on why, and where to from here for the USA and the world. I am looking at what Australia can learn from this experience.
There are similarities between us and the USA, and they also apply to the political systems and the oligarchs who run the country. Those similarities are closer than we may wish to admit.
The people who voted for Trump, broadly speaking, are the standard conservative (Republican) voters, the so called Evangelicals (hard line Christians), the rural folk, the angry white men (and women) and, crucially, the formerly Democrat voting working class poor who have seen their manufacturing and retail jobs disappear before their eyes. The middle class is being crushed between a burgeoning working poor and the increasingly wealthier and more powerful elites, further removed from the realities of the rest of society.
Australia of course has its standard conservative voters – they are called Liberals here. The much smaller group of hard line Christians find home in various smaller ultra conservative parties as well as the more mainstream Liberal and National parties. The rural folk generally go for the Liberals and Nationals of course.
Now it gets interesting. The angry white men? They are finding succour in One Nation and their ilk, whilst in South Australia, we have the non-racist, but very political opportunist, Nick Xenophon appealing to them, and Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania.
And the final group, the working class poor, generally vote Labor, but a lot vote Liberal too, but greater amounts are voting for Mr X in SA, and One Nation/Jacqui Lambie and similar in other states.
The middle class are being squeezed, not so much as in the USA to be sure, but they are feeling it, by the increasing pressures on their incomes, loss of traditional work that is heading overseas – not just manufacturing, but retail, call centres, technical work and agricultural production. Employers are looking to cut costs and some, in a way I deliberately call ‘unAustralian’ have happily taken to treating their staff very poorly indeed such as in this example http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/staff-picket-cub-factory-as-sackings-stall-production-20160712-gq3zsx.html and the increasing number of large businesses going under such as Bob Day’s Home Australia with massive monetary losses to mainly small businesses.
People are angry, and when people are angry, they look to blame someone, even if that anger is misplaced or irrational, or the decisions they make when angry might not necessarily be in their own best interest.
A Trump like person CAN rise to power in Australia despite the differences in the political machinery here, because the same forces are at work, and if the Republican Party in the US so spectacularly failed to curtail Trump when they literally had billions of dollars at stake, I am sure the right person can rise to the top here too. I am often told by political party members that their internal checks and balances will ensure no nutters would end up running a major party in Australia – in evidence I give you Tony Abbott and Mark Latham, your Honour!
The elite, whom can be broadly defined as the politicians, main stream media and large businesses, are the powerful forces who run this country, and rarely do they lose a fight they really want to win.
Most of the time the system works vaguely okay for most folk, but currently thanks to immigration (especially African and Middle Eastern), outrageous greed from most of our large businesses (http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/australian-banks-top-global-list-as-labor-persists-in-demands-for-a-royal-commission/news-story/aefa72c371555ced47804f9604c25c7c), politicians rorting of the system (this one is my favourite for this year – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-09/steve-herbert-resigns-after-chauffeuring-dogs/8008300) and bipartisan political support for foreign ownership, free trade agreements and sending Aussie jobs offshore http://www.minerals.org.au/news/the_minerals_sector_welcomes_bipartisan_deal_on_china_australia_free_trade_agreement, people are feeling that they are hurting more than before, or are; they are angry, and they possess a political tool with which to hit back at the elites. It’s called not to vote for the major parties.
I believe that a charismatic leader with little or no political background, with the accidental help of the MSM, can cobble together a coalition of voters loosely to the right, with eager support of disaffected Labor voters who oppose immigration, Islam etc, and with the rural vote and other conservative forces, create a new force which they shall call a ‘centrist’ party, but is really just Trump like populism and bigotry.
For the record, please note that I abhor racism and bigotry in all forms, but oppose lopsided free trade agreements that our political elites foist upon us, and I also oppose foreign ownership of Australian land and major enterprises, such as utilities. For this I am labelled a ‘populist’ by members of the major parties – if that is populist so be it, but I am supporting Australian interests. No one has managed to explain to me what is so good about free trade agreements and foreign ownership when all the jobs and money goes offshore.
Anyway, I see this new force completely destabilising the Liberals and Nationals, and within a few years becoming so popular that they can have a real crack at running the country.
My feeling is that the person leading this party may from a rural background, but be city wise, and perhaps be an entertainer or TV personality that would appeal to young and old, men and women, country and city, but would be blaming immigration and especially Muslims for all the country’s woes.
As the economic situation worsens, the ice epidemic takes hold, crime rates soar, civil unrest escalates along with other social ills, the immigrant scapegoating will increase.
I do not know who this new leader will be; it is certainly not Pauline Hanson, who does not have the charisma or intelligence for the role, or be like Clive Palmer (who was an Australian auditioning for the role of Trump, badly) and they may not even at this very moment be thinking that they could lead a new political force in Australia.
If you think I am being alarmist, and that the eerie parallels I am drawing in a future Australia and, invoking Godwin’s Law, the rise of the Adolf Hitler led Nazis in Germany, are unrealistic; just read up on the decline of liberal democracy in Germany in the 1920s and how the elites of Germany at the time, in politics, the media and business, dismissed concerns of the Nazis winning democratic power in their democracy, until some of them decided to join him.
Or you could ask Hillary Clinton.