Donald Trump’s contribution to democracy.

Donald Trump may have established a dangerous precedent for modern democracy. He may have demonstrated that the more damage a leader does to a nation the more chance they have of being re-elected.

Trump lost the 2021 election to Joe Biden and the Democrats in the United States, but plans to run again in 2024 and could realistically win the next election simply because he inflicted so much damage on the nation while in office that no leader or party could fix it in just one term.

Americans expect Biden to fix many of Trump’s problems, and if he doesn’t, they may turn again to Trump.

Strategy or coincidence?

Was this Trump’s strategy from the beginning of his presidency? Did he and his advisors plan this as soon as he moved into the White House? It’s hard to imagine they did. It’s hard to imagine Trump had any plan apart from exploiting hatred and bigotry to maintain his power and protect the interests of his businesses and his allies.

It’s difficult to imagine Trump planned this failure because his reign was marked entirely by neglect; the neglect which created the myriad problems which Biden and his team must solve.

Mission impossible

Joe Biden cannot repair all of the damage Trump created. There is simply not enough time in one presidential term, especially since the underlying cause was the deliberate division Trump weaponised in his campaign and his presidency. Trump utilised existing social polarisation fomented through social media and the Murdoch press to protect his power, and entrenched this polarisation in American society. That division might be a hallmark of US society forever.

Another primary feature of Trump’s reign was publicity. He utilised the Murdoch press, or Murdoch utilised him, to advance an agenda and to win support from the ignorant gullible and impressionable masses. When Biden nears the end of his term and hasn’t fixed all of the problems Trump created, Murdoch need only repeat the same tactics to mobilise a disgruntled sector of the population to turn against Biden and vote for Trump.

The irony

Ironically, many Trump supporters suffered under Trump. They ‘voted against their best interests’ as political experts like to call it. For example, many Trump supporters are lower middle – lower class workers, who forgot, or ignored, the fact that Trump and his allies are employers and leaders of corporations who stripped workers of their rights between 2017 and 2021.

During the 2024 election campaign, Murdoch will no doubt harness this anger and direct it towards Biden in order to convince workers that they should once again vote for Trump.

Biden and his team will improve some aspects of life in the United States, because it’s impossible to get any worse, but it’s also impossible to fix all of the problems Trump created.

A dangerous precedent

Trump’s reign was closely watched throughout the world. The United States is a world superpower after all. What did world leaders, political parties and potential world leaders learn?

Did they learn that damaging a country, while protecting the interests of the leader, the party and their donors, renders the opposition’s task so difficult that the opposition is bound to fail? Once the opposition has failed, Trump’s imitators can take back power.

World leaders may never have considered this as a deliberate tactic, but Trump has shown them that it could be successful.

Trump Lite

Australia has suffered a similar fate. Recently deposed prime minister, Scott Morrison, was also known as Trump Lite and is widely regarded as the worst prime minister in the history of Australia – he was even widely despised by members of his own party.

Morrison did enormous damage to Australia. His four-year reign saw enormous damage inflicted upon areas such as the natural environment, education, Indigenous rights, women’s rights, disability services, health, aged-care services and many more.

Newly elected prime minister, Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party, has an enormous task to repair the damage Morrison and his colleagues created while in office. Many Australians, like their US counterparts, breathed a collective sigh of relief when the new party won office, but they also expect real change.

Australians expect to see improved policies and actions to fight climate change, and to lower the rising cost of living, return integrity to politics and to fix the enormous problems in education, aged-care, disability services, Indigenous communities and many other areas. The danger for Albanese and his party is that they may not have enough time to solve enough problems to win the trust of the Australian public. Remember, also, that voting is compulsory in Australia so many people must be kept happy in order for a politician or party to stay in office.

The dangerous precedent Trump set, and which people like Morrison copied, could create nations so damaged that no opposition party can sufficiently repair the damage before the next election.

Image: http://www.washingtonpost.com

Three superpowers in three weeks.

The Australian government has managed to upset three superpowers in the space of three weeks. Comments from the prime minister and senior minsters or staff have provoked negative responses from China, India and the United States, and the results could be very harmful to Australia.

China.

The threat of war. Senior government figures provoked China with comments about imminent armed conflict. Former Liberal minister Christopher Pyne, Senator Jim Molan, Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo, and even Defence Minister Peter Dutton made comments suggesting Australia is already, or will soon be, engaged in some form of direct conflict with China. In contrast, an article by Ewen Levick appeared in Australian Defence Magazine in March this year entitled:

War with China is not inevitable.

Average Aussies don’t know who to believe. They also might not understand the true motivation behind the comments, but China does, and Australia’s largest trading partner has already responded the best way it knows how – economically.

India

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australian citizens attempting to return to Australia from the COVID-19 hotspot of India could be issued massive fines or sent to jail. Many Australian citizens were born in India, have family in India and hold dual citizenship between the two countries. Australian citizens have access to Australia’s health system, and could be treated in Australia after completing mandatory quarantine, but they are being forced to remain in a country in the middle of a crisis, and are placing more pressure on India’s overburdened health system. This has not just angered Aussies in India and back home, but upset the government of India, which is battling to bring the crisis under control.

The United States

The Australian government set itself at odds with The USA when it refused to follow plans to reduce carbon emissions and protect the natural environment. New US president Joe Biden has publicly stated an ambition to actively reduce carbon emissions in the US in the near future, but Australia has refused to match these efforts. One specific policy which will harm Australia is the carbon tariff. The tariff, or fee, will be imposed on any goods being imported into the United States which have not been produced using more environmentally-friendly methods. Goods that are produced using fossil fuels will thus be worth less, and those businesses will lose money. The European Union is proposing a similar plan.

Ironically, this will adversely affect traditional Coalition voters, whose businesses will suffer due to the tariffs. Australia, rightly or wrongly, has a very close relationships with the United States, and cannot afford to alienate the superpower.

Upsetting other nations is inevitable in international diplomacy. Upsetting other nations is also justified if those nations are acting in a way that clearly contravenes the interests or the accepted values of the nation making the comments. China, for example, needs to be called out for its actions in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang. In this case, however, the comments are calculated, but careless, and are deliberately designed to appease specific sectors of the Australian population.

China. Anti-China comments appeal to the racists. Australia is a racist country, and anti-Chinese racism has existed since the gold rush in the 1860s. The Liberal National Party coalition taps into this anti-China sentiment because it is dependant on the votes of the country’s racist underbelly. Warning Australians of the threat of war is also a convenient way to justify enormous spending on defence, and observant commentators noticed that the comments were made close to ANZAC Day, which commemorates fallen Aussie soldiers and is the nation’s most sacred day. Ironically, however, the public comments about China have adversely affected trade with China and this severely disadvantages Australian producers of beef, wheat and wine, who would normally vote for the Coalition.

The USA. The prime minister rejected the US proposal in order to appease the fossil fuel industry. Australians are now cognisant that the fossil fuel industry owns the Coalition.

India. Racism, or damage control? Threatening to imprison Australian citizens returning from an Asian country is clearly racist, but the proposal could also be an attempt to save face. COVID-19 quarantine is ultimately a federal government responsibility in Australia, and it has been handled very poorly. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been even worse. Many Australians are staring to see through the government’s COVID-19 publicity stunts, so the threat to fine or imprison citizens could be an attempt to appear tough and decisive on border control and biosecurity.

Some of the Australians trapped in India have no Indian heritage. They are cricketers, chasing big money in the lucrative Indian cricket competition. A few of the cricketers have criticised the government’s stance. Will the words of some Aussie sports heroes be enough to the change the government’s stance?

For a government that is nothing but publicity, photo opportunities and marketing, this is a massive public relations faux pas. Will it persuade Australians to stop voting for the Coalition at upcoming elections?

Image: Aditya Joshi