View from across the Ocean (14/7/16): Election results and other inevitabilities

Well, I feel like this week has been one long list of “it was going to happen eventually” moments, followed by a fair bit of “now what?”

Let’s see: the election in Australia has finally been called in the Coalition’s favour and Malcolm Turnbull is still the PM (and there was much rejoicing); over in the UK David Cameron has announced that Theresa May – the Eurosceptic who campaigned Remain – will be replacing him as the PM, then hummed a jaunty tune in what was possibly the most English way of saying “It’s your problem now! Peace bitches!” possible; Bernie Sanders finally – bloody finally! – endorsed Hillary, finally realising that he was beaten and that no one except the diehards who couldn’t take a hint (basically, Tumblr) were listening to him anymore; and hey, the Hague declared in the Philippines favour, telling China that “nah mate, you can’t fish there. Or drill for oil.” China doesn’t want to take the hint.

So, now what?

Well, in Australia comes the tough job of figuring out who actually won the election and why. I mean, yeah, Mr Turnbull is still top dog, but the Coalition has been gutted and the terms and conditions of the alliance between Liberals and Nationals has been updated (something that Barnaby Joyce is keen to keep secret… wonder why?) Labor did far better than most analysts were predicting, Shorten is secure in the leadership of the party and they’re setting themselves up for what’ll probably be short but bloody slog to the government benches. Over in the Senate, both major parties and the Greens lost seats to the Nick Xenophon Team (which really should have been named something like the Nick Xenophon Experience) and a resurgent, reawakened One Nation under Pauline Hanson (for fuck’s sake Queensland! This is why we can’t have nice things!) While the Coalition does have the slimmest of majorities necessary to run the lower house in their own right, they’re going to have to negotiate everything through an upper house that’s going to be hostile towards a fair bit of their ‘mandate.’ And I doubt they can pull of that double dissolution gag twice. So who won? In my opinion, moderate left progressives. But the explanation for why should get a post of its own.

In the UK, Theresa May is now the PM and she immediately came out and declared that the results of the Brexit vote will be respected. Brexit means Brexit and all that jazz. Far more worrying is that one of her most prominent appointments is Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, kinda crushing a lot of the hopes that they’d put someone capable of negotiating the best possible exit deal in the job. Yeah, it is not Boris. But Miss May still seems competent and calm enough, so the UK can still hope for a lot of sound compromises. We’ll just have to wait and see, and Miss May at the very least seems like the best option that was available. A lot will be answered by when she chooses to begin Brexit proceedings. On the bright side for the Tories, Labour is still a bloody mess.

In the US, Bernie Sanders did not follow through with plans to contest the primary all the way to the convention, finally realising that he lost (FAIR AND FUCKING SQUARE AS WELL YOU POLITICALLY IGNORANT FUCKING HIPSTERS). It’s not surprising, Hillary Clinton had already turned her attention away from the nomination and is gearing up for her fight against Trump and his Republicans, and even Democrats who supported Mister Sanders’ campaign, such as Elizabeth Warren, have joined the stage with Mrs Clinton against the great orange tide. What comes next? Well, the election for president builds up steam. Bernie fans either come together with the rest of the party and vote for the best possible candidate, or keep their fucking mouths shut when the Republicans come in and begin ripping the country apart with the super-duper right wing mandate they’re about to ratify. I don’t know. Hillary picks a VP, so does Trump this week for that matter (Governor of Indiana, I believe, is the favourite). I fucking hate American elections. Voters and pollies both just seem so fucking pathetic. Jesus Christ, I’m 25 and jaded by the political machinations of a country that doesn’t effect me at all. One question I want answered, ’cause I can’t be bothered googling it properly: How are we going to title Hillary Clinton? I used “Mrs” above, but are we going to use “Ms,” “Miss” or “Mrs”? They all feel really inappropriate, but I feel like it’s disrespectful to not use some sort of formal titling. Has she expressed a preference? ‘Cause obviously her opinion counts the most in such circumstances.

And then there’s China, who have already expressed plans to ignore the UN-backed ruling but nobody’s really sure how. Things are probably going to be a little gentle for a few weeks or months, while trade negotiations and G20 visits are going on, but everybody’s a bit worried about an escalation of Chinese military presence in the South China sea. Australia is rightfully concerned about confrontation with its largest trading partner. Canadian news and opinion has already moved on from what I’ve seen. Just thought I’d mention that, since I live here. Maybe I’m just not reading the right newspapers.

Anyway, talk more soon.

View From Across the Ocean (3/6 – Election 2016 Special)

Something I miss about back home – and this is gonna sound odd so bear with me – is good old fashioned Australian racism. I mean we’re just so charmingly, hilariously sincere in our bigotry, ’cause we’re completely earnest when we mean it’s nothing personal.

Honestly, you’ll see a big white Aussie sporting a Southern Cross tattoo on his bicep and an Australian flag displayed on his wife-beater with the caption “Respect it or get out!” underneath, and you’ll probably hear him have a go at the Lebanese. Fucking Lebs. Bloody wogs. Bunch of fucking crooks and terrorists, amirite? But at the very same time you say two words crosswise at his mate Bilal (whose family comes from Beirut) and Mr Southern Cross will fuck up your day.

I mean, Australians are still mean, ignorant bigots and racism is wrong at any level. But it’s bizarrely populated with exceptions. Like we’ll hate, fear and attack entire peoples, cultures and religions except for the individuals we know personally. It’s weird. But it means that when we declare we’re not actually racist towards Asians because one of our best mates is Korean and another is Vietnamese we actually mean it. We’re wrong, of course, we are most definitely wrong. It’s still very racist. It makes for some bloody hilarious moments though.

Like with elections. Now while we’ve got the three white men running the major parties standing up and acknowledging that things aren’t all that harmonious in the land of Oz (though even Dr Di Natale heading the Greens doesn’t seem to have a whole lotta workable solutions), we’ve got Pauline Hanson of One Nation getting up and chomping through the usual feedbag of Australian xenophobia in her big to get elected again. But it’s alright, she says. One Nation isn’t racist, she says. After all, some of the members have Asian wives and they’re totally cool with her. Reckon she’s doing a top job, keep it up. Someone needs to keep all those ugly, unsubmissive, not-married-to-white-Australian-men Asians out.

And you know that when Pauline Hanson says these things, she believes it. She really does. Isn’t that goddamn excellent?

Maybe being a white heterosexual male I can afford to laugh. I’m pretty safe through it all, aren’t I? A lot of people are a bit worried because it’s looking like she’s got a pretty solid chance of getting into the Senate again. But, bloody hell, I’m a firm believer that one of the best ways to fight the wrongs in this world is to point out how bloody ridiculous they often are. Point and laugh.

And Pauline Hanson is fucking hilarious.