There is no Trump World. Nations are not the sum of their political parts.
The personal is political is not a thing, unless you’re a political junkie mainlining your hubris with old episodes of The West Wing and ill-thought posts on Facebook.
Not all New Zealanders are soft-left empathists who can feel our pain because Jacinda Ardern is Prime Minister. It isn’t a socialist theme park. Have you seen the All Blacks play?
Ardern did not come to power via a group hug. She cozied up with New Zealand First, which is really just One Nation with a thesaurus.
Some people think Donald Trump, all his flaws and America are one and the same thing. One Nine commentator describes the US as a failed state with a depravity of public discourse and nothing like Australia at all.
And what’s not to hate when it comes to Trump? Many are offended by his behaviour over the last four years with his handling of the COVID pandemic seen by many as the final disaster.
Others now look to the Minneapolis riots, the accusations of police racism and violence, the burning buildings and looting as the literal smoking gun of Trump World.
But unlike some places, Trump is publicly accountable through the democratic process. Polls are already showing his public support dropping when only a few months back many considered him a sure thing for re-election. And with the events in Minneapolis — the brutal arrest of George Floyd was captured on video and shared by a free press and social media. The initial protests before they went wrong a democratic right. The illegal behaviour whether of police or protesters will be investigated within a rule of law society.
This is the bumpy ride of democracy and it’s a cultural bond between Australia and the US. Something you will never see somewhere like communist China, a country some commentators think we should align with because they naively regard a democratic Trump America and an authoritarian communist China as the same thing. They should ask Hong Kong about that as they are currently learning what real depravity of discourse is.
Despite what you see on morning TV, America isn’t a collection of crazy only-in-America moments. Most Americans, like most Australians, are doing what they are told and self-isolating during COVID.
Despite what some suggest, most Americans aren’t stupid and mindlessly drinking disinfectant because their President apparently told them too. Most are smart enough to not trust political leaders and the media reporting on them at all.
As any recovering pro-Hillary 2016 supporter will tell you, Trump did not win the popular vote. And as they are less likely to concede, Hillary herself was a poor candidate who spent much of her campaigning preaching to the converted.
Given these mistakes, it is not totally surprising that as a result of a democratic process Trump (just) managed to win. This is how democracy works. This year, there will be another presidential election where it is quiet possible he will lose. Try explaining that to Xi Jinping.
And if he wins? It’s our democratic right to elect duds (take your pick amongst Australian prime ministers past). In the meantime, most Americans like most Australians will be getting on with their lives and not letting their political processes define them unless they regularly post on social media.
Michael Scammell is a writer and former US Consulate staffer. He writes at https://mdswords.wordpress.com
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