The Armchair Expert
As an Arts and IR student from Melbourne, my column offers a broad perspective on current International affairs. I’m in my first year, draw political cartoons and major in history. Living on campus and keen on politics, my column Armchair Expert hopes to keep you informed for when politics come up in conversation.
When Trump announced his campaign, the Huffington Post said that it would cover it in the Entertainment section – this may be harder to do when he’s president.
Put simply, Donald Trump will win because it’s the Republicans’ turn to win. It’s hard for an Australian to understand this type of polarisation. Whilst we are a two-party system, at least we have the Greens and old mate Pauline to poke fun at. In America, the only non-Democrat or Republican in the senate is Bernie Sanders – who ran for the Democratic nomination. This ‘us and them’, ‘with us or against us’ politics is the American way, and historically, it hasn’t been such a bad thing. When a Republican like Herbert Hoover dragged us into a recession, we could rely on a Democrat like Franklin D. Roosevelt to pump up government spending. When a Democrat like Lyndon B. Johnson threw us into Vietnam, the Republican Richard Nixon got us out. When a Democrat like Barack Obama introduces Health Care, opens up Cuba, and makes a historic nuclear deal with Iran, you can rely on a Republican/Libertarian/Palmer-
2012 was both wonderful and terrifying for Democrats. They had won the White House again, but in doing so, they lost it in 2016. Eight years is long enough for any diehard republican to watch the first African-American president ‘be the worst President we’ve ever had’, let alone twelve. I’m sure the Democratic establishment was thrilled when it became apparent that Donald Trump was tipped to win the nomination. So thrilled, in fact, that Obama was game to spend a large chunk of both his last White House Correspondence Dinners making fun of Trump.
But when you laugh at Trump, you laugh at Trump voters. You laugh at the people that hate you already, and you embolden them.
All Trump has had to do to get this far, is be blonde, be white, and not be called Barack Hussein Obama. With Trump occasionally posting a Twitter photo in a private jet eating KFC, the everyday fat blonde white republican can relate to him – albeit without the jet (or car (or custom gold bike)). Here at the ANU, we like to think we’re geniuses at foreign policy, and assess the world with a rational, utility-maximising mindset. We also expect others to do the same. That is why we cannot understand why people vote for Trump. He offends minorities, majorities, the rich, the poor, you and me. We cannot understand that Americans do not vote for policies or budgets, but for people and personalities.
The other reason Trump will win, is of course, called Hillary Clinton. No one likes a Hillary Clinton. Again, this is hard for Australians to understand. We see a sensible, centre-left (think: centre-right), experienced, woman candidate who we’d gladly spend our Saturday voting for if the alternative was Donald Trump. But, as always, Americans are the exception to the rule. They see the first lady of Arkansas in 1979, the first lady of the United States in 1993, the senator for New York since 2001, the ‘not Obama’ of 2008, and the Secretary of State since 2009. This condition has been termed “Clinton-fatigue” – a disease not unlike pneumonia. They want her to stop hogging up all of the airtime, even if she does want to give them free health care – or whatever.
While I for one welcome our new overlords, I’ll level with you – despite the title of this article, Trump probably won’t win. The republican base has been shrinking since the 90s, and Clinton will probably scrape through on the median-voter theory. But, if he does win, it won’t be because he’s a Republican, it will be because he’s not a Democrat.