22.6 C
Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

Trumpmania: Has America gone mad?

Latest News

Calls to extend temporary accommodation for flood insured

The one-year limit on temporary accommodation provided by some insurance companies to people whose homes went under in the flood must be extended.

Other News

Ballina’s Citizens of the Year announced

Ballina Shire Council announced its Australia Day Awards yesterday at the Lennox Head Cultural Centre. The awards were presented by Sandra Jackson and netballer Liz Ellis, with music by Katie Rutledge and Levi Maxwell. The event was also livestreamed.

Old ANZ Mullum

The old ANZ Bank building on Burringbar Street in Mullum is now a bathhouse; such yuppy city indulgence to...

Calls to extend temporary accommodation for flood insured

The one-year limit on temporary accommodation provided by some insurance companies to people whose homes went under in the flood must be extended.

Indigenous cricketers go head-to-head

Regional teams came together at Ballina’s Fripp Oval for an Indigenous cricket challenge carnival on January 26, last week. The...

Mother and Daughter Stop Logging in Yarratt Forest

Two women who grew up in the Manning Valley are currently suspended from trees with  ropes connected to, and stopping, logging in Yarratt Forest north of Taree.

Federal Drive landslip update

Council staff have updated the status of the hinterland Federal landslip that cut access at Federal Drive, north of Federal village on February 28, 2022. The road that connects Federal to Goonengerry has been closed a year this week.

The Simpsons cartoon series took up the claim that Donald Trump paid people to seem like supporters during his speech announcing his intentions to run for president.
The Simpsons cartoon series took up the claim that Donald Trump paid people to seem like supporters during his speech announcing his intentions to run for president.

Phillip Frazer

Nope – it was already mad.

Americans are angry mad at the fact that the government – and the corporates who run it – have their sticky fingers in everything their citizens do and everything they think, and all the citizens get is another day older and deeper in debt.

And America is batshit crazy mad in that it doesn’t believe in global warming and diplomacy but does believe in angels, insurance agents charging $2,000/month per family to look after their health (not counting the costs of treatments), and it still believes it’s the best country on Earth.

Okay, let’s stop this thought-train right there: something’s wrong with all the stuff I just wrote, which is that ‘America’ doesn’t exist, and nor do ‘Americans’.

‘America’ is a wide stripe of the North American continent, about the same area (omitting Alaska) as Australia with 13 times as many people, who are more diverse and disconnected than Australians are.

I went to the US in 1976 to see if I could figure out how much ‘they – the Americans’ had to do with undermining the Whitlam ALP government and, more generally, why ‘it – America’ behaves the way it does. The short answers to those two questions, I conclude 40 years later, are:

Of course the bullying paranoid president Nixon and his equally power-mad secretary of state Henry Kissinger wanted to get rid of Whitlam and his goddamn communist cabinet ministers, and of course the CIA did all it could, short of having him shot, to help the lords of Canberra and London toss Gough off the cliff. Whitlam himself said later, ‘I got off lightly’, compared to Chilean president Salvador Allende who died in the US-backed coup of 1973.

As I unravelled the facts about which politicos in Washington and bankers in New York screwed Whitlam and Australia over, an image of how America works formed in my mind, a moving image, like a live-feed. It goes like this:

The whole country consists of shifting alliances of people engaged in a never-ending battle for ascendency, in which the most valuable weapons are money, access, and strategic knowledge.

Alliances

These alliances might be economic or class based, such as recently laid-off auto-workers (over 100,000), or family based, like the Kennedys or the Rockefellers, or a social movement such as LGBT activists, or geographically based such as people living in the Rocky Mountains, or alliances of common interests such as former defence or state department officials now working for weapons manufacturers, or weapons manufacturers invested in drones and other cyber-warfare industries, or teachers and educational managers working in charter schools, or the alliance of second wave feminists that grew in the 60s whose ‘bosses’ include Gloria Steinem, who recently damaged Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid by dissing younger feminists, or Christian fundamentalists … organic farmers …

These alliances are ever-changing and there are no guarantees nor any agreed-on overall goals.

There are various rules, variously obeyed or dishonored, including the Constitution, Congress, the vast bureaucracies, the courts, the military and intelligence agencies with their own secret laws, and so on one – but in practice, life proceeds like the warlord societies of China in the early 1900s, or Japan in the 16th century.

Now this image of alliances that drift along with shifts in who is exerting power over whom could describe Australian society, or any other society, but what distinguishes the American system is that it has more diversity than any country in a similar stage of ‘development’. It is a country shared by hundreds or thousands of distinguishable cultures, full of disparities and inequalities. It might be a paradise of political correctness, or a multicultural morass, but what it is not is a community of shared experiences, myths, priorities, and, ultimately, loyalties.

Unifying notions

There are unifying notions about what America ought to be about, and they compete for the people’s allegiance: constitutionalists strive to organise the populace around the noble ideals of the founding documents, but Bernie Sanders and the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia would have agreed on that while drastically disagreeing on what it meant. And Donald Trump couldn’t give a shit about founders or documents; he believes Americans are united around the lusty battle to make money, or more accurately, to take it from others – the more you take the better you are.

It’s a donnybrook among crooked warlords, idealists, crooked idealists, and idealistic warlords.

Okay, so where are we in the 2016 presidential election?

Donald Trump is hanging on as a loose cannon über-capitalist with an army of mostly white folks who are united by diminishing wealth, income, and hope. His two Christian crusader challengers, Senators Cruz and Rubio, look more looney toons by the day. Watch out for Mike Bloomberg, John Kasich, Mitt Romney and Gary Johnson. Any one of them could be nominated at the Republican Convention in July.

Democrat Hillary Clinton says she represents the middle class, poor people, women, blacks, Latinos, Wall Street, and everyone really. In the real world, she and Bill are members of the Washington/New York power elite. If she loses this year, all those dinner party invites, board directorships, and deals behind closed doors will finally cease and desist.

Bernie Sanders is still a chance to beat Hillary for their party’s nomination. He has been more popular than Hillary or Trump in every poll for the last six months, and he still is. He has come from obscurity by building an alliance of people tending younger and more ethnically diverse than anyone else’s followers, arguing calmly for taxing the super rich to pay for free tertiary education and health care for all.

But it’s not about a rational choice for the good of the country. It’s about shifts on the battlegrounds of warlordism, right up to November 8.

Phillip Frazer is a dual Australian/American citizen who will send his presidential ballot to the USA in November. See more at www.coorabellridge.com.

 


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

2 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Have your Perfect Say

Here in the Byron Shire our crisis is so famous it’s made international news. It’s been in the US Rolling Stone even. It’s been in documentaries. It’s been in The Guardian. It’s what we live with here – every day. We live in a community where there is nowhere to live and the whole world is watching what we do next, wondering if we will do what their super star tourist destinations did and regulate the housing market. People in places like Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Miami found out that tough regulations actually aren’t bad for business after all. That’s just property market profiteering propaganda.

The Voice

I’ve been ruminating and researching on how best to support a ‘Yes’ response on the Voice referendum. I always come back to principles… devoid...

Letters – 1 February 2023

The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don’t be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

Cheeky Cabaret returns!

Following the Cheeky season is some incredible live music, including Ella Hooper: Small Town Temple tour, Libby O’Donovan – cabaret singer extraordinaire, Stella Donnelly: Flood Australian tour, Liz Stringer and William Crighton co-headlining in a powerhouse performance, and the house is thrilled to announce the fabulous Tim Rogers & The Twin Set coming in April.