NIC HAYES: Why Aussies can’t tear themselves away from US election chaos

Nic Hayes
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Brave prison officer funds own case to expose sex harassment
Brave prison officer funds own case to expose sex harassment Credit: Adobe Stock, Supplied

Events out of New York over the past week has shown us that US politics is always capable of reaching new levels of hysteria, and drama.

As they say, truth is stranger than fiction and having a former US president on trial over hush money payments to a porn actress, to cover up an extra-martial affair would make one great tragi-comedy, if the implications for the November’s US election weren’t so serious.

The drama wasn’t all in the courtroom either, as one of this generation’s greatest actors, Robert De Niro, a long-time enemy of Trump, threw himself into the spotlight and got very personal with his disdain for Trump. De Niro’s rant on the steps of the Manhattan courtroom where Trump was on trial, was not too dissimilar to roles he has played — dramatic, angry, menacing, and with plenty of typical New Yorker bite.

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The media in the US and across the globe had a field day with De Niro’s performance. And depending on the political leaning of the respective outlets, De Niro’s tirade was either that of a madman or a “voice of virtue” for the good of society.

Meanwhile, here in Australia we too are like moths to the flame when anything pops up on our screens about Trump or Biden. But why do we care so much?

Sure, the elected president will be the leader of the free world, and yes, whoever wins in November will have an impact on the security of our region, the defence of our nation, and the ongoing health of our two countries’ relationship. But we cannot vote, and we are a minnow in the global scheme of things, yet the coverage of the US election will likely earn it a place in the top three media issues in Australia this year.

Are we attracted to the drama because we lack it in our own politicians? Because when it comes to drama, chaos, controversy, and dysfunction, we’re at the other end of the political spectrum.

We have a Prime Minister described as “vanilla”, who struggles to garner much enthusiasm with his leadership or direction. And his track record to date has not been impressive. He failed to convince voters with the Voice referendum, his environment policies have put him at odds with left-leaning voters, his pledge to end the live animal export trade has alienated farmers, and his vow that he would open the doors of opportunity to all Australians is looking shaky as the housing crisis deepens, and the economy teeters.

Then you look to the Opposition which seems destined to remain in opposition if they stick with their leader Peter Dutton. Dutton, who has cultivated a strongman persona over his political career, has turned negativity into an art form and the only reason the Coalition even look like being an outside chance in the next election is due to the current Government’s lack of direction, and failing economic policies. The inability to gather the support of middle Australia and women, with some hopeful policies, is likely going to leave the Liberals in opposition and thereby remove any pressure on the Government to do better.

No, we do not want what the US has, particularly around their issues with guns, violence, health, crime, and poverty. We don’t want our choice of leaders to be between a narcissist liar and a well-meaning elderly man who’s clearly suffering some cognitive decline. And we don’t want a US-style political system, which resembles a three-ring circus.

What we want, and what we need in our leaders here in Australia, is those who have a vision, and have the intestinal fortitude to see beyond the current electoral cycle. Leaders who will leave a legacy that we will talk about in the next two decades. That would be something that voters in Australia could get passionate about and be proud of.

Nic Hayes is the managing director of Media Stable.


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