Welcome to the Ballot Box, where two student politicians step out of Caucus and pick up their pens, providing insight into a topical issue from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
This month, we take a look at one of the more surreal events of 2016. Trump.
Right-leaning – Liam Straughan
Red caps. Light rain. Green grass. Marble façade. A lone, but polarizing figure stands at the precipice of power amongst the grey and the wearied, and a crowd of foes past.
Combined, these things painted a picture of a striking force of renewal and endless enthusiasm amongst the masses, confined within a single ceremony. A single place of power, freedom and indeed triumph, on Friday, January 20, 2016.
The words uttered forth “…so help me God,” may accurately describe the feelings of some who stood, and continue to stand, against an inevitable upending of politics as we know it.
Such opposition to this brand of ‘Change’, distinct from that espoused 9 years ago by Barack Obama, represents an ideal of attempting to forsake tradition, and maintain a path that some on the other side of the fence have argued as being for the worse of a unique and distinctive country.
This has been, for a considerable period, say, over the past decade, countered by political leaders by planning for the short term instead of ahead of time. Spending the economy out of strife and expanding government regulation and power. Ending the ‘bad wars’ and intervening in others, as well as attempting to rub it in to some that the ‘culture wars’ have long since been won in the name of such “progressive” ideals.
Just watch Season 19-20 of South Park and tell me you don’t agree with this assessment!
Why President Donald J. Trump has achieved what he has, from initially being labelled by both prominent and ordinary folks alike as someone to be ridiculed and dismissed as merely a protest candidate to becoming President of the United States, stems from the following: disenfranchisement in the economic reality of a shrinking middle class and uncertainty about all that is purportedly good per the worldview of career politicians and their followers. A.k.a “progressives”.
What we have all witnessed has been, as Michael Moore of all people I have chosen to quote has said, “the biggest fuck you ever recorded in human history.” It was aimed at ensuring the ‘same old same old’ attitude of increased power and trust being granted to institutions of governance and objective information sharing don’t hold water anymore. I’m happy to say that they don’t. (CNN & Buzzfeed’s recent smackdown, anyone?)
Donald Trump’s rise has the dangerous effect of not necessarily portraying the rise of hatred, but rather, in a far worse regard – the legitimization of hatred. I, as a young Australian, have many concerns for this legitimized hatred; socially, economically and politically. Despite not being physically within the borders of the USA, it is evident that through America’s position as a cultural and economic leader,Trump’s vilification extends to our shores.
Economically, we’ve already seen that President Trump’s policies and attitudes are letting the bears loose upon the ASX. Trump’s tweets have buried billions in shareholder capital and put a stressed scenario for workers under further strain. Considering the interconnectivity of markets, we are now tasked with trade concerns, falling business confidence and an ‘uncertain future’ – a term that all young Australians continue to toil with.
Culturally, as a young Australian, I have grown up enjoying the shared benefit that comes with a community built upon diversity and inclusion. Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy entails a direction of disunity and hatred. It is evident that Australia has picked up some of the cultural nuances of the USA through our long tie with the country. It is undoubtedly difficult for young Australians who have grown up watching The Simpsons, eating McDonalds and listening to Beyonce, to now watch the country that created these icons take such a discouraging position to their religion, race or culture.
Politically, this encourages the likes of One Nation and it gives solace to those who wish to place their vote in favour of a country guided by a sense of selfish hyper-individualism and a disposal of support mechanisms for the vulnerable – which states to us young Australians that bigotry may very well be perceived as a politically legitimate position as opposed to a harmful belief.
Young Australians are tasked with the future, and boy, do we have our work cut out for us. Despite this world of uncertainty, we young Australians are determined, gutsy and fighting to make a difference. I can say with absolute certainty:
We will meet this challenge.
Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!