Politics Is Australia becoming too obsessed with US political culture?

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parsons nose

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Dec 23, 2008
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I'm a little fed up of the whole "left vs right" endless arguments. And it feels in this country a recent development. Australia has had a revolving door of Prime Ministers. Parliament structured in a way where traditionally you might be edging a little here or little there depending on things like taxes and investment. Generally we've never been a nation known for political fascination. I spent time working in England for a while and I never saw Australian political news covered. Most people probably never heard of John Howard. They could name a list of famous cricketers off with ease though.

Now it seems to me there is a mimicking of what is going on in the United States whereby certain politicians and especially media commentators want to co-opt American political issues as some kind of wider culture war. It seems desperate to me. We are not American. We don't share history, infrastructure, business and systemic factors which is behind many of their divides. Over there like in England most people probably have never heard of our PM yet so many Aussies feel some way strongly inclined to their president. In a way that never happened with Obama or Bush or any other.
The fascination, as you describe it is born out of boredom. And is not specific to American politics. We don’t realise it, but we are elitists. You, me and everyone else who inhabit public forums such as this one, enjoy the luxury of the exchange of opinions without consequence. Those in the game are afforded no such luxury as they are too busy putting food on the table.
 

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deanc

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I'm more concerned all news sources doing it, pushing their opinion as news. Check out the ABC/Just In site, its my go to news source & its deteriorating.
I want the news, whats happened & I can choose what I read, I'm interested in all views, not just those that make me feel good, happy to be challenged.
Yeh a healthy dose of skepticism, even scepticism/cynicism o_O
Concur, sadly today you have to invest some time to find the actual news/facts away from the opinion/commentary.

As I've posted elsewhere it wasn't that long ago that the 'opinion page' in a newspaper was just that, one page, usually opposite the 'Letters to the Editor' page - however 'opinion' and/or 'expert' articles are now about 80% of the content in most newspapers...

The other annoying aspect of our media today is the increasing amount of 'Victim Narrative' that is woven into almost all news/current affairs/topics. Even if it's a story celebrating achievement you can bet he, she or they has somehow had to overcome some life challenge or hardship or abuse etc.
The current ABC Australian Story feature on former RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons is a recent example as it's more about him being a 'troubled teenager from a broken family thanks to his alcoholic abusive father', than it is about acknowledging his career/recent achievements...
 
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kober3742

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I'm a little fed up of the whole "left vs right" endless arguments. And it feels in this country a recent development. Australia has had a revolving door of Prime Ministers. Parliament structured in a way where traditionally you might be edging a little here or little there depending on things like taxes and investment. Generally we've never been a nation known for political fascination. I spent time working in England for a while and I never saw Australian political news covered. Most people probably never heard of John Howard. They could name a list of famous cricketers off with ease though.

Now it seems to me there is a mimicking of what is going on in the United States whereby certain politicians and especially media commentators want to co-opt American political issues as some kind of wider culture war. It seems desperate to me. We are not American. We don't share history, infrastructure, business and systemic factors which is behind many of their divides. Over there like in England most people probably have never heard of our PM yet so many Aussies feel some way strongly inclined to their president. In a way that never happened with Obama or Bush or any other.
Hi, I am a US citizen that enjoys the AFL which is why I am on here. Here is the situation in a nut shell:

-I am an Evangelical Christian that was appalled that Trump got into office in the first place. He is not moral, nice or even stately. I am mostly conservative I would say. I did not agree with Obama on much and never voted for him, however he is a great husband and father. He never resorted to name calling.
-What is even worse is that generally the Evangelical "mouthpieces" Jeffress, Falwell and Grudem all love him. American Christianity followed their lead and got him into the White House. The dissonance with Christianity and Trump is staggering.
-In the last two presidential elections I voted 3rd party.
-People in the US have treated government like a sport. Republicans and Democrats are against each other. It is like Carlton v. Essendon, West Coast Fremantle, Adelaide v. Port etc. All we want to do is win the game. When Trump won the election, the Republican's "team" won.
-The opposing team, the Democrats are now firing away to try to win whatever battles they can. They are spending most of their time bad-mouthing Republicans. Criticism for Trump is definitely warranted, but that seems to be what most Democrats are doing instead of governing. Governors and local officials should be working like crazy with Virus relief and making life better for minorities.
-Both the Republicans and Democrats have not helped with any sort of leadership with the Corona virus
-Neither of the political parties has done very much for minorities either. Republicans have largely not listened. Democrats have listened but only insomuch as they can use them for political capital. Democrats have done very little tangibly for minorities besides show slightly more compassion than Republicans.
-Over the years people from the US are proud of their country. While not inherently wrong, now that we are struggling with the Virus and the George Floyd riots, the rest of the world is fascinated to see the US struggle. That is the reason why there is such a worldwide focus on the US
-People in Australia, please get more involved in your political systems to make sure that government does not become like a sport. Please do not use minorities to win elections, please make sure to govern rather than win games.

My observations may not be as nuanced as maybe you could want, but that is my take on things. I have struggled the last couple of days and it is not fun to be in the US recently. All the best to you.
 

Brad Goodman

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Hi, I am a US citizen that enjoys the AFL which is why I am on here. Here is the situation in a nut shell:

-I am an Evangelical Christian that was appalled that Trump got into office in the first place. He is not moral, nice or even stately. I am mostly conservative I would say. I did not agree with Obama on much and never voted for him, however he is a great husband and father. He never resorted to name calling.
-What is even worse is that generally the Evangelical "mouthpieces" Jeffress, Falwell and Grudem all love him. American Christianity followed their lead and got him into the White House. The dissonance with Christianity and Trump is staggering.
-In the last two presidential elections I voted 3rd party.
-People in the US have treated government like a sport. Republicans and Democrats are against each other. It is like Carlton v. Essendon, West Coast Fremantle, Adelaide v. Port etc. All we want to do is win the game. When Trump won the election, the Republican's "team" won.
-The opposing team, the Democrats are now firing away to try to win whatever battles they can. They are spending most of their time bad-mouthing Republicans. Criticism for Trump is definitely warranted, but that seems to be what most Democrats are doing instead of governing. Governors and local officials should be working like crazy with Virus relief and making life better for minorities.
-Both the Republicans and Democrats have not helped with any sort of leadership with the Corona virus
-Neither of the political parties has done very much for minorities either. Republicans have largely not listened. Democrats have listened but only insomuch as they can use them for political capital. Democrats have done very little tangibly for minorities besides show slightly more compassion than Republicans.
-Over the years people from the US are proud of their country. While not inherently wrong, now that we are struggling with the Virus and the George Floyd riots, the rest of the world is fascinated to see the US struggle. That is the reason why there is such a worldwide focus on the US
-People in Australia, please get more involved in your political systems to make sure that government does not become like a sport. Please do not use minorities to win elections, please make sure to govern rather than win games.

My observations may not be as nuanced as maybe you could want, but that is my take on things. I have struggled the last couple of days and it is not fun to be in the US recently. All the best to you.
I think it's fair to say not many of us would envy you at the moment. Hopefully this will all blow over, but it blowing up seems just as likely.

Who you putting on the ballot this time around? It's sad that Biden was the best they could come up with, but getting the other guy out is surely the priority?
 

kober3742

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I think it's fair to say not many of us would envy you at the moment. Hopefully this will all blow over, but it blowing up seems just as likely.

Who you putting on the ballot this time around? It's sad that Biden was the best they could come up with, but getting the other guy out is surely the priority?
Well, fortunately for me I am not in a big city so am relatively safe, although we have curfews here which is crazy.

At any rate, if the Democratic party had any organization at all, they would not have selected Biden - who is only marginally better than Trump. He is more polished than Trump, but has his own issues with women in the past (and I am not talking about Tara Reade) and does not excite a lot of Democrats.

I will have to see who the erd party candidates will end up being. They will not win anything, but I can sleep at night knowing I did not vote for the lesser of 2 evils.
 

RunningBounce

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Not sure how much "left vs right" is imported.
Yeah, I'm don't know how much is imported either.

I reckon it has grown due to social media (including BF) and less eye contact while having serious discussions. Or at least it's amplified on social media. They're all US companies now, so perhaps there's an "import" aspect to it.

Having said that, I know plenty of older Australians who are very black and white in their politics. And I don't think Jack Lang took a pragmatic approach when it came to govt support for business, lol. He was 100% ideology, 100% of the time, in the 1930s. Maybe it's always been in us?
 

Roobs321

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I find a lot of people in my personal circles just lack the information literacy to sift and critique appropriately. They'll start ranting about any garbage that came into their feed on facebook or 4chan or some other silo/personalized hellhole. The RWNJ is a recognisable process in many families of late, usually men of a certain age but it could be anyone. There is a lot of stupidity and savagery on the far left as well, and hollow tokenism in that direction from the centre.

I'm an introvert, and I feel that perspective has aided me in always having a strong ability to sniff bs and see through fakeness. But the ability to interact with information and process it requires a bit more life experience and skills that a lot of people just don't have yet or never develop. A lot of people can't really 'see', 'smell', 'taste' or 'touch' in any literate way, and the same could be said for thought and reflection. Our commercial news outlets like 7news are basically white fascist boomer core which inflame political controversy, feed subconscious appetites for true-crime and scandal, demonise the other, and flood everything with hollow capitalism and low-nutrition, high-advertising content. If you search news sources on your iphone during lockdown for updates, the headlines from more commercial outlets are invariably less helpful and appealing, shameless clickbait, but some people can't 'read' and 'process' information in an independent, inquiring fashion and so they lap it up and get misinformed or placated. Before you know it vociferous ranting about China, ABC, LGBT, brown people, defending Trump, and of course women, all start to ramp up. It is sad.

In my experience, a lot of people turned their back on a lifelong interest in US politics when Trump was elected. It was a moment which shattered the illusions of many. The last half decade has seen the US spiral further away from our empathy and influence. Some others have taken more interest in US politics, because Trump is entertaining (he isn't, his hollow superlative-laden speeches and vindictive tweets are deathly boring, they make George W Bush sound fascinating, but I guess Trump's rapid actions and subversions of office are engrossing). US imperialism has been somewhat craven for a long time now. Think Mexico in the 1840s. Panama at the turn of the 20th century. Guatemala in the post-war period. The genocidal fact of the Native Indians. All those convenient foreign dictators. The regular tampering with evidence and presenting it to the public to gain mandate for war. And anything involving Iran, Russia and new hegemonic rival China is hard to swallow blindly without ample propaganda and hypocrisy.

They've also recently been a few decent White House related programs, from West Wing to House of Cards to Veep, as well as endless biopics, so it becomes something you develop intrigue in. When I was 6 I had an encylopaedia set from the 1970s, and I avidly taught myself the entire succession of US American Presidents by heart from that (I'd already done country flags and capitals in prior years). This was before I'd ever seen or heard about an American President on television (we had only just recently owned one). It ended at Ford, and so I relied on my parents for the later ones like Carter, Reagan, Bush.

Back to the OP though, left vs right being an American thing is false. Whilst they might be a very visible and vocal promoter of democracy (and failure), left vs right has been in our federal political system since the beginning. I think the polarity and intractability fluctuates, and rapid communication and globalisation complicates the ability for long-term context-based policy, but the left v right thing was even more identity-based in the past. Think working class Irish catholics unions and the more police statey protestant Brits. During the 30s and 40s a portion of Australians were open to socialism and communism. D.H. Lawrence saw a lot of this struggle for the nation's future for himself at the end of WWI.
 
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DAlembert

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I find a lot of people in my personal circles just lack the information literacy to sift and critique appropriately. They'll start ranting about any garbage that came into their feed on facebook or 4chan or some other silo/personalized hellhole. The RWNJ is a recognisable process in many families of late, usually men of a certain age but it could be anyone. There is a lot of stupidity and savagery on the far left as well, and hollow tokenism in that direction from the centre.

I'm an introvert, and I feel that perspective has aided me in always having a strong ability to sniff bs and see through fakeness. But the ability to interact with information and process it requires a bit more life experience and skills that a lot of people just don't have yet or never develop. A lot of people can't really 'see', 'smell', 'taste' or 'touch' in any literate way, and the same could be said for thought and reflection. Our commercial news outlets like 7news are basically white fascist boomer core which inflame political controversy, feed subconscious appetites for true-crime and scandal, demonise the other, and flood everything with hollow capitalism and low-nutrition, high-advertising content. If you search news sources on your iphone during lockdown for updates, the headlines from more commercial outlets are invariably less helpful and appealing, shameless clickbait, but some people can't 'read' and 'process' information in an independent, inquiring fashion and so they lap it up and get misinformed or placated. Before you know it vociferous ranting about China, ABC, LGBT, brown people, defending Trump, and of course women, all start to ramp up. It is sad.

In my experience, a lot of people turned their back on a lifelong interest in US politics when Trump was elected. It was a moment which shattered the illusions of many. The last half decade has seen the US spiral further away from our empathy and influence. Some others have taken more interest in US politics, because Trump is entertaining (he isn't, his hollow superlative-laden speeches and vindictive tweets are deathly boring, they make George W Bush sound fascinating, but I guess Trump's rapid actions and subversions of office are engrossing). US imperialism has been somewhat craven for a long time now. Think Mexico in the 1840s. Panama at the turn of the 20th century. Guatemala in the post-war period. The genocidal fact of the Native Indians. All those convenient foreign dictators. The regular tampering with evidence and presenting it to the public to gain mandate for war. And anything involving Iran, Russia and new hegemonic rival China is hard to swallow blindly without ample propaganda and hypocrisy.

They've also recently been a few decent White House related programs, from West Wing to House of Cards to Veep, as well as endless biopics, so it becomes something you develop intrigue in. When I was 6 I had an encylopaedia set from the 1970s, and I avidly taught myself the entire succession of US American Presidents by heart from that (I'd already done country flags and capitals in prior years). This was before I'd ever seen or heard about an American President on television (we had only just recently owned one). It ended at Ford, and so I relied on my parents for the later ones like Carter, Reagan, Bush.

Back to the OP though, left vs right being an American thing is false. Whilst they might be a very visible and vocal promoter of democracy (and failure), left vs right has been in our federal political system since the beginning. I think the polarity and intractability fluctuates, and rapid communication and globalisation complicates the ability for long-term context-based policy, but the left v right thing was even more identity-based in the past. Think working class Irish catholics unions and the more police statey protestant Brits. During the 30s and 40s a portion of Australians were open to socialism and communism. D.H. Lawrence saw a lot of this struggle for the nation's future for himself at the end of WWI.
"I feel I've always had a strong ability to sniff bs" Me too and I think what I just read had the smell of BS all over it.
 

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Roobs321

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"I feel I've always had a strong ability to sniff bs" Me too and I think what I just read had the smell of BS all over it.
Thanks for reading:), flattered to think people still read overlong posts like mine in their entirety nowadays! Even if it flicks their reject rather than articulate switch, meaning they never learn.
 

Kwality

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I think it's fair to say not many of us would envy you at the moment. Hopefully this will all blow over, but it blowing up seems just as likely.

Who you putting on the ballot this time around? It's sad that Biden was the best they could come up with, but getting the other guy out is surely the priority?
The thing about the US is people dont have to vote, only those who care enough.
 

Kwality

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In my experience, a lot of people turned their back on a lifelong interest in US politics when Trump was elected. It was a moment which shattered the illusions of many.
I disagree, the Aus media had painted Trump as a loose cannon who didnt fit in the political class, wont win, the Yanks will stick the established, conventional & safe hands of Clinton line to anyone who might be listening.

When Trump won, the Aus commentators took a 'the voter is wrong' stance & it was so loud that ordinary people with no interest beyond recognition of Obama physically, had Trump pushed down their throat ...

I was listening to SEN as the votes rolled in, hardly mainstrean poltics on a normal day, Andy Maher & Rohan Connolly were on air, absolutely running the coventional lines, there attitude was this cant be happening .... to an audience that wanted sport not politics .....
 
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Roobs321

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I disagree, the Aus media had painted Trump as a loose cannon who didnt fit in the political class, wont win, the Yanks will stick the established, conventional & safe hands of Clinton line to anyone who might be listening.

When Trump won, the Aus commentators took a 'the voter is wrong' stance & it was so loud that ordinary people with no interest beyond recognition of Obama physically, had Trump pushed down their throat ...

I was listening to SEN as the votes rolled in, hardly mainstrean poltics on a normal day, Andy Maher & Rohan Connolly were on air, absolutely running the coventional lines, there attitude was this cant be happening .... to an audience that wanted sport not politics .....
That doesn't disagree with what I said though...and US presidential elections are always massive news stories that stop the world, and that was more about the individual than US politics in general.

I said many people who had been interested in US politics like myself lost all that when Trump won. It imploded our trust and companionship in the whole enterprise of American politics. I personally turned away from any interest in it after lifelong fascination with it, and won't be returning. It pulled the mask off. Commercial newsradio might find Trump invigorating, but it is a bit like following a football club because of a marquee signing. They are into Trump, and will look away again when he goes.
 

Kwality

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That doesn't disagree with what I said though
Spot on, I agree with the gist of your post.

will look away again when he goes
Not so sure, the identity politics schtick is easier than real analysis, a sound byte easier again. Its not only Trump, Ms Ardern more locally.
 

kober3742

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That doesn't disagree with what I said though...and US presidential elections are always massive news stories that stop the world, and that was more about the individual than US politics in general.

I said many people who had been interested in US politics like myself lost all that when Trump won. It imploded our trust and companionship in the whole enterprise of American politics. I personally turned away from any interest in it after lifelong fascination with it, and won't be returning. It pulled the mask off. Commercial newsradio might find Trump invigorating, but it is a bit like following a football club because of a marquee signing. They are into Trump, and will look away again when he goes.
As an American, I am not sure why Australians would have cared as much as they did for American politics. What US does should not have any bearing on what Australia does. Coming from a US person, you should not care that much about US politics. It will not be beneficial for your daily lives. If your news outlets keep harping on US politics, ignore them. We have shown ourselves to be poor examples of governance for the last 20 years or so. I love my country, but have to speak the truth. At least we have term limits which is a good thing. The president can directly affect the country for at most 8 years. Make sure that you care more about your government than ours.
 

Roobs321

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As an American, I am not sure why Australians would have cared as much as they did for American politics. What US does should not have any bearing on what Australia does. Coming from a US person, you should not care that much about US politics. It will not be beneficial for your daily lives. If your news outlets keep harping on US politics, ignore them. We have shown ourselves to be poor examples of governance for the last 20 years or so. I love my country, but have to speak the truth. At least we have term limits which is a good thing. The president can directly affect the country for at most 8 years. Make sure that you care more about your government than ours.
I agree with the gist of this, but it sort of takes another tangent. However, people will always have hobbies and specialisations. Someone from Australia will be obsessed with some soccer league in Romania. They might be an expert in Chinese politics. They might produce a Scottish kind of cheese. Etc. The media is a bit different, it has to be accessible and informative and interesting to a wide audience, but Australians having an obscure interest in the politics of foreign countries for pure hobbyist/academic interests is always going to be a thing. It doesn't mean you'll go harping on about it in everyday life or social media or anything, but a small minority of Australians being an expert in the presidency of James Madison is to be expected. Just like you could probably fill a room of Americans obsessed with the Prime Ministership of Malcolm Fraser. Maybe Americans are less likely to relate to this? (the cliche of the world knowing more about a hegemony such as the USA than typically vice versa).

And to also pretend that the US doesn't seek to influence Australian politics and life with some quid pro quo would be naive as well. See Australia's current fraught tug-of-war between US & Chinese influence, and also regarding other matters of intervention, ideology, vested interests and sovereignty from the Middle East to South East Asia. To completely ignore foreign politics is to run blindly on some of your own foreign and domestic policy.
 
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Kwality

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I agree with the gist of this, but it sort of takes another tangent. However, people will always have hobbies and specialisations. Someone from Australia will be obsessed with some soccer league in Romania. They might be an expert in Chinese politics. They might produce a Scottish kind of cheese. Etc. The media is a bit different, it has to be accessible and informative and interesting to a wide audience, but Australians having an obscure interest in the politics of foreign countries for pure hobbyist/academic interests is always going to be a thing. It doesn't mean you'll go harping on about it in everyday life or social media or anything, but a small minority of Australians being an expert in the presidency of James Madison is to be expected. Maybe Americans are less likely to relate to this? (the cliche of the world knowing more about a hegemony such as the USA than typically vice versa)
When 'Trump this', 'Trump that' leads our news its an obsession. It is,as a quick look at BF will testify.
We know the media outlets that knock him constantly, equally the pro Trump pushers. Harping is one way to describe it.
Thats ignoring opinion dressed up news.
 

Blue1980

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I think as others have mentioned, it gets stupid when we try to find our own versions of what happens in America, even bad things.

I mean regarding watching the Last Dance and Michael Jordan seeing how something like that could relate to AFL or have stories told in a similar way is more interesting than anything, and be a positive thing is we can get docos like that made here based on AFL.

Now when we get these getting these George Floyd situations it’s like the far left are desperate or jealous even we don’t have anything like that to be outraged about.

So we get false equivalents like lots of aboriginals in prison and dying in custody. Issues aboriginals have aren’t remotely comparable to those of African Americans, completely different set of circumstances.

In terms of a racism problem in Australia and America, the difference is as stark as our covid19 numbers.
 

DAlembert

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I think as others have mentioned, it gets stupid when we try to find our own versions of what happens in America, even bad things.

I mean regarding watching the Last Dance and Michael Jordan seeing how something like that could relate to AFL or have stories told in a similar way is more interesting than anything, and be a positive thing is we can get docos like that made here based on AFL.

Now when we get these getting these George Floyd situations it’s like the far left are desperate or jealous even we don’t have anything like that to be outraged about.

So we get false equivalents like lots of aboriginals in prison and dying in custody. Issues aboriginals have aren’t remotely comparable to those of African Americans, completely different set of circumstances.

In terms of a racism problem in Australia and America, the difference is as stark as our covid19 numbers.
And of course a policeman/Aboriginal issue was in the Age online this evening. So predictable
 

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