As a young boy born in the year of the bombing of Pearl Harbour I have been privy, in my growing up in Melbourne Australia, to witness the way in which the United States insinuated its post-war mentality into the Australian psyche. Whether born at home or overseas and whether for good or ill, Australians became Americanised.
Perhaps, I should pause here, lay my cards on the table, and even offer a disclaimer. I confess I haven’t visited the American mainland. Honolulu is as far as I have ventured. There, I was suitably impressed by the hospitality of the people, struck by their obesity, and disillusioned by their ignorance of all things not American. I find them often crass, as well.
As an example, I recall a sightseeing expedition one Summer day on the magnificent Sydney Harbour. The ferry carried a dozen or so American tourists. As we rounded an estuary we encountered a large yacht race approaching us; their vibrant, colourful spinnakers in full sail. The scene was breathtakingly beautiful, but the loud Americans, more interested in the value of the mansions that dotted the cliffs, spoiled the moment.
On the other hand, I have a number of American Facebook friends with more developed sensibilities, some of whom I speak with regularly on Skype or telephone. These individuals are politically attuned to the downward course America is taking. In heartfelt conversation, they express their despair at the decline of what they once thought – rightly or wrongly – to be the greatest nation on earth. What they once regarded as an enlightened society strengthened by freedom of expression they now question as they see these same constitutional protections used by the Right to foment hatred.
Like me, they believe that in an enlightened society the need to legislate one’s right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.
They mention the land of milk and honey and wonder why their fellow citizens still believe in the great American dream. They ask themselves if it was all just propaganda, a myth to distract the majority from the wrongs perpetrated against the minority.
Again, I had better pause lest you fail to grasp where I am heading. In Australia we have a saying, “Only in America.” It’s a phrase we say when something outrageously good or bad happens, as though such excesses can occur only in America. It might be violent racism, another Columbine, kids being slaughtered – any preventable, tragic loss of life that repeats time and again for which no remedy is forthcoming. All of this is beyond the average Australian’s capacity to understand. In contrast, we also use “Only in America” as a term of endearment when some outstanding achievement occurs: a significant scientific breakthrough, a sporting record, a foot touching the moon’s surface.
How is it, we ask, that the most technologically advanced country in the world is descending into the moral abyss of unscrupulous, partisan political skulduggery and unbridled capitalism?
Capitalism as practiced in the U.S. does not allow for an even flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.
Australians once applauded Americans for their ability to disagree on policy issues yet reach bipartisan agreement through compromise for the sake of the country at large. What happened?
Ronald Reagan gained power and legitimated the rise of Neo-conservatism and the Christian Right. This trend continued under George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and their cohort of ideologues. Believing America to be superior in every way to all other countries, they drove the U.S. towards a more aggressive, interventionist foreign policy and tried to reshape the nation domestically in their image, as well. Sadly, the Americanisation of Australia continues apace and our politics are now increasingly informed by the same corrupt and duplicitous mindset.
In 2013, following four years of leadership turmoil in the Labor Party, Australians in their absentmindedness elected Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.
Neo-conservative Republicanism had crossed the oceans and invaded our Australian way of life; a culture that once had fairness at the core of its being. It is now a place where less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware.
Conservatives fed them all the bullshit they needed to hear. And the menu generally contained a fair portion of Americanised persuasive untruth. And the lying from Abbott began in earnest:
“Let’s be under no illusions: the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.
With that statement and many more like it he took Australia into far right conspiracy theory politics.
After two years the public, and indeed his party had had enough of the politics of fear and replaced him with the more moderate and sensible Malcom Turnbull. Ironically though it now has a center left leader leading a far right party.
So emphatically poor of political morality is the U.S. now that there is a distinct possibility that an ill of mind billionaire entertainer in Donald Trump might trump a second grade movie actor to become the next president.
How a man of such ill repute, threatened by two countries to be disallowed entry, could even be nominated beggars belief. It even questions the sanity of those who would contemplate his election.
To think that the Republican Party could ever consider a megalomaniac like Trump as a nominee to run for the Presidency illustrates just how low the GOP have fallen.