By Daniel Lang - Managing Director
Picture credit: Win McNamee
Politically conscious Australians have always paid keen interest to the American political landscape, well aware that trends and seismic shifts there tend to have a significant bearing on our own political sphere before too long.
The American political juggernaut is probably the closest thing we have to a crystal ball when it comes to our local politics. In a rather tacitly important manner, there’s an informal monkey see, monkey do approach from politicians down under when it comes to how those in the land of the free and the home of the brave conduct their political dealings.
There are, of course, many significant differences between the political spheres of the two countries, but at the heart of the matter what has proven successful in America has often transitioned, in some way or another, to these shores.
The rise of the alt-right, the self-proclaimed anti-politically correct mob who seemingly feel aggrieved that people who don’t look like them are afforded the same chances and opportunities in their country has closely mirrored that of the north American counterpart.
Islamaphobia and the unfounded belief that Muslims fleeing war-torn home nations are demanding the implementation of Sharia Law is a constant stream across both communities.
Right-wing conservatives and those with obviously anti-immigration agendas have sprung up across Australia, emboldened by the 2016 election of President Donald Trump and his administrations consistent attacks on minorities.
The framing of different minorities as threats against a perceived way of life has long been a go-to tactic for those self-obsessed and self-righteous enough to elevate themselves above their fellow man, but a refreshed and renewed return to it is a troubling and disappointing parallel between both Australia and America.
Trump’s continued against on refugees, Mexicans and just about anyone who isn’t Russian has allowed the pale imitations down under to crusade harder and with more fervour.
Sky News, with the Andrew Bolts and Rowan Deans of the world has become a de-facto Fox News, clear and bilious bias at almost every turn.
Cory Bernardi and Lyle Shelton have attempted, thankfully almost completely without success, to position themselves as the vanguard of right-wing virtuosity and righteousness through traditional, hard-core stances on same sex marriage, immigration and multicultural diversity in the average Australian community.
Gun ownership, or the right to bear arms is not the contentious issue here it is State-side, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if there was a significant movement to weaken the stringent gun control measures in place here, this pair would be first and second in line behind the equally dislikeable David Leyonhjelm as the most vocalist bastions of that fight as well. Heaven help us.
While it seems Australia’s wannabe right wingers have learned lessons from the way Trump and the GOP blitzed the 2016 election most expected Hilary Clinton to win in a landslide, it remains to be seen of the left have learned the same lessons.
Bill Shorten continues to struggle when held up as preferred Prime Minister against the incumbent Malcolm Turnbull despite the current administration’s repeated Newspoll struggles.
Labor might be winning the popular vote, and will likely see a significant swing back against the sitting government when we head to the polls, but in the world of personality politics, the right seem to have done more to connect to a disenfranchised, hard-core group of people while the Aussie left is yet to formalise an identity that speaks coherently.
There’s enough time for the party to learn and to adapt, and in all likelihood they’ll wind up in power at the next election anyway, but as the new blue wave in America shows, the left is just as happy to band together and ride the tide as those on the right, when given the incentive to do so.