Australians Weigh In On US Election and Trump Presidency
On election night, many countries of the world watched in disbelief as Donald Trump won the Presidency with surprise victories in states that allowed him to best Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College.
Countries have since been scrambling to assess where they stand with the US diplomatically, in trade agreements and in shared societal values.
Simon Thompson spent time with friends and acquaintances in his homeland to get Australian reaction to the election of Donald Trump.
“I think it is pretty shocking that he is Americas president after all the sh*t that he has been caught saying and doing.”
Molly Kelly said
“I think it is kind of scary it makes me worried about the future of the world and I think it is a strange choice for the American people to elect that man.” Thomas Melia said.
“All the sh*t he has got himself into, the pu**y grab. I have lost count of all the stupid sh*t he has said to offend and shock people, yet he has still got the highest, the most important job in the world." Catrina Sofo said “I was shocked and pretty disappointed, very disappointed and pretty fearful.”
Molly Kelly, Thomas Melia and Catrina Sofo, are three Australians out on one of Melbourne’s restaurant strips on a Friday afternoon.
"As a women of course, I think he is a complete d*ckhead and I find him to be extremely politically incorrect and extremely offensive towards women.” Molly Kelly said. Molly Kelly
Credit KRWG/Simon Thompson
So why are people a world away in Australia concerned about the results of the US election? The US is Australia’s closest military ally and sets trade policy with China; the country that receives the bulk of Australia’s exports.
“To have Trump elected almost means we have Trump elected, that is why it is extra scary.” said Thomas Melia
Australian broadcast media gave twice as much coverage to the US election, as it did to its own election according to media monitoring company Isentia.
“We seem to follow America almost blindly without questioning what it would do to the Australian people.”
Thomas Melia saidhe is particularly concerned about the impact Trump’s presidency is likely to have on climate change and the environment, especially because of his criticism of the Paris climate accord.
“Food shortages, weather change patterns, soil degradations, biodiversity loss, sea level rises, environmental refugees moved on by sea level rise; millions of them! Then that kind of counters against the policies these conservative governments are putting up around the world; where they are not accepting more refugees.”
Thomas Melia said “His ideas seem to be not thought through at all and quite whimsical.”
Catrina Sofo volunteers as an advocate for Australian asylum seekers and immigrants she said she is concerned about how Trump’s immigration rhetoric could impact policy here in Australia and around the world.
“When the Australia government is trying to make a case for something they will use that it is working in America as an example.” Catrina Sofo said
“Impacts here will be more around passing harsher immigration policies. I mean we still have some horrendous policies probably worse than you guys at the minute, but I think having someone like Trump in power representing the values the Australian community is trying to fight, I think is going to make it harder for positive change to happen here.” Catrina Sofo said.
Molly Kelly said on a symbolic level, the election of Donald Trump is a step backward for gender equality in Australia and the world over.
“As a woman of course, I think he is a complete d*ckhead and I find him to be extremely politically incorrect and extremely offensive towards women.” Molly Kelly said.
Warren Thompson lives in the Melbourne inner city, he is also my Dad. Having worked in international business, he said he is concerned about Australian diplomatic and trade relations with China in the Trump world.
“The geopolitics is bigger than any individual and I don’t think he has shown any sign of understanding that so far”
Warren Thompson said “A dispute between America and China serves no ones interest.”
A poll by the Lowy Institute taken before the election showed half of Australian respondents said Australia should distance itself from the United States if it elects a president like Trump. Only 11 percent said they would prefer Trump to Clinton on foreign policy
But for many Australians including Molly Kelly, Catrina Sofo and my Dad, the outcome of the election and low voter turnout is just the logical result of a political system that hasn’t made the civil duty of voting compulsory among its citizens.
“I mean, make people vote and then maybe it would have been different.” Molly Kelly said.
“If you are going to be forced to pay taxes and to do other social responsibilities, voting in who leads the country is a huge one.” Catrina Sofo said.
“It is not too much to ask people to participate in their democracy. Democracy can be taken for granted”
Warren Thompson said
“I believe it is a very delicate flower and unless it is looked after and nurtured, it can disappear very quickly and that would be devastating and there aren’t too many genuine democracies in this world and we can’t afford to lose them.”