Current Australia and US Political Rumblings

The big news from the last fortnight is Donald Trumps announcement to have the US withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. This was met with anger from both within the US as well as from the international community who see the move as a continued effort from Trump to undermine action on climate change. Indeed the Paris Climate agreements seeks countries to reduce emissions in order to keep the planet from warming to 2 degrees above pre industrialisation levels as well as funding less developed nations to fight the effects of climate change that they are already facing. It seems to be the financial contribution is the particular reason that Trump has sighted for withdrawing Americas support from the climate agreement as he believes countries are not using their financial assistance to help fight climate change. This is straight from an old playbook politicians use on withdrawing financial aid because they claim that the money is being misused by corrupt governments. However in too many cases this is just a fiscal decision because measures can usually be put in place to ensure money is going to targeted projects. Also on the wider issue of climate change and its effect on the planet there is still some question as to what humans should be doing to fight climate change as it is an expensive project to implement cleaner energy use, this is offset though by the fact that if the rest of the world decide to move to cleaner energy you then lose money from using energy sources that is no longer sustainable. A broader point to be made is around the fact that their is no forces to ensure that countries meet the targets set out in the climate agreement which leaves the agreement potentially being little more than tokenism as if countries don’t change their behaviour their are no tangible penalties.

Elsewhere Donald Trump continues to face potential issues relating to Russian interference in the election last year as well as continued calls from various quarters to impeach Trump due to his many policy and personal missteps since the last election. While there is the potential for the Russian spying issue to become a potential ground for impeachment, for many people just the fact that Trump won the election last year was such an atrocity that he immediately should have been impeached. This ignores the issue that for many people a vote for Trump was not a personal endorsement but more a vote for the ability to be heard again and anyone who had of campaigned on that platform would have been elected. This reasoning is not liked by those who are stridently left aligned who believe to have voted for Trump means you are a homophobic racist bigoted nazi who deserves to be physically assaulted and that even a vote for an independent candidate was a horrible political decision that deserves to have you personally insulted. Now I am by no means a Trump supporter and indeed I would have voted for Hillary Clinton if the election was held, but I could see why Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate and I think it’s a real shame that both Joe Biden or John McCain weren’t five years younger as they would have been admirable candidates who did not carry the baggage that both Clinton and Trump had. I think it’s perfectly ok to oppose and even to dislike Donald Trump, but there are plenty of policy issues to do that for, I think it’s wrong for people to only attack him and supporters on personal grounds and similarly the personal attacks on Clinton and her supporters were also disgusting in the election campaign. All these attacks on either end of the spectrum do is make consensus politics that much harder, indeed that was referenced in a book by Dr Andrew Leigh the other day who laments that politics has now become far more partisan and personal.

From a podcast with Bill Simmons and James Corden, James Corden made a few very good points on the current state of US politics. One is that for all the problems that the Republicans have currently with the poor standing of Donald Trump, there is a real issue of who the top Democratic figure is currently, the worse thing that could happen going into the 2020 US Election would be a divided Democratic Party who can’t work out who they want to take on Donald Trump which would increase the likelihood of him being able to win another term. The other point James Corden made related to the current consumption of Political news by the members of the public. Because of the large amount of Late Night TV shows available there is a need for hosts to be over the top in their presentation of current news to stand out from their competition on air. This means that their political statements are more outlandish than normal and shouldn’t be taken as considered factual accounts of the current political landscape, however the current landscape seems to suggest that the likes of John Oliver are political experts who should be the basis for reasoned political debate and that just isn’t what these show hosts are aiming for.

In Australia the biggest news in the last fortnight is the announcement of Indigenous leaders wanting more than just Constitutional recognition and something more in the form of a treaty. These terms are often used interchangeably however there is a important difference. Constitutional recognition is a recognition in the laws of the land that Indigenous people lived in Australia post European Settlement whereas a treaty would recognise this as well as then offer some compensation for the fact that Indigenous people have not been recognised in the constitution until this point. This compensation could be both in the form of monetary and land compensation and the amount of compensation that should be given is probably the main sticking point for progress on having a treaty over many years.

The concept of Constitutional recognition seems to have broad political support now, however it would need a referendum to pass into law and the concern has been that due to referendums tending to not pass in Australia it would be a bad look on our society if it was not overwhelmingly passed. With that in mind the extra step of wanting some form of compensation while being reasonable by most pundits opinion may have extra trouble in being passed in a referendum. This means that this important issue is probably still in a discussion stage and it may be even longer for tangible progress to be made. There is also more stronger opposition from more conservative figures like Barnaby Joyce and the Monarchy association who have an issue with the crossover of the constitution being a royal agreement and this being a seperate entity to that.

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