How do I know with certainty that Trump will fall off the rails, crash and burn and then disappear like an ugly pimple on a Clearasil ad? Because I’ve seen this movie before – Australia endured Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. The day he was elected, I thought the world had ended. But we survived. Abbott’s tenure as PM, though painful, was only two years long and was a relatively unproductive two years at that. For those unfamiliar with this story’s plot, here are the key reasons Trump will share the same fate as Abbott:
1) Negative campaigning instead of leading gets old fast
Abbott’s always-on campaign of negativity worked like a charm when campaigning. But once in power, the pessimism, sniping and constant put-downs wore thin very quickly. Just like Trump, Abbott remained in negative attack-dog campaign mode once he became Prime Minister. When people were looking to him for assurance, for confidence, for leadership, they found him bitching instead. It’s easy to criticise everything and everyone when you’re not responsible for fixing problems. But when the country needs solutions and all you have is a whining toddler saying no all the time, opinion polls go south very quickly.
2) Rudeness and weirdness become embarrassing on a national stage
When I say rudeness, Abbott was just like Trump in that before he was elected, he was a well-known sexist and also like to flame racism to cover up for a lack of policy direction. It used to infuriate me that Abbott got away with doing and saying just about anything, no matter how offensive, and how bullshit, because people just shrugged and said ‘oh well, that’s just how he is, at least he says it like it is’.
There was also always a weirdness about Abbott and bizarre decisions which quite frankly could only be put down to a very limited mental capacity. For instance, when he decided to bring back Knights and Dames, and then proceeded to Knight Prince Philip who is married to the Queen of England. Or that time he ate an onion on the TV news. Face-palming at the Prime Minister soon became a national pastime.
It’s like that guy in your group of friends who sets his farts on fire for attention, but then when his bum causes a bushfire, those who used to laugh are embarrassed to be seen with him. It got to the point in Australia where you literally could not find a single person who would admit to voting for Abbott.
It might seem like Trump gets away with rudeness and weirdness on a monumental scale, but once Abbott became the leader of Australia, all his character flaws and faults were like dirty linen aired in front of a world audience. The electorate suddenly realised that having a buffoon representing us in national conversations wasn’t so good for our international reputation. National dignity was at stake. Be patient. It will happen.
3) Broken promises will come back to bite
Days before Abbott was elected Prime Minister, he went on national television and promised ‘no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS’. Just like Trump, it was obvious that Abbott would make any promise necessary to win votes and damn the consequences. Then, predictably, in Abbott’s very first budget only a few months after winning the election, he took a sledge hammer to these promises.
I note Trump has done the exact same thing – after promising in a tweet that there would be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, his Republican counterparts are already busily taking health insurance away from millions of Americans. Many of these people voted for Trump and when it occurs to them they’re worse off because he lied, they will retaliate. Who is paying for that wall again? Watch and see.
4) He won’t grow into the job
There was a common narrative around the election of Abbott, particularly from his right-wing supporters in the media (yes, our media is controlled by Murdoch too!), that he would mature into the job of Prime Minister and would leave all his tomfoolery and lack of policy talent behind, to be the statesman-like leader the country expects. Nope. Never happened.
Abbott, like Trump, was emboldened by winning the election and refused to listen to anyone except a very close circle of advisors (his chief of staff in particular who did her best to rein him in, but even obsessive micromanaging of his every move didn’t cover up his obvious lack of credibility or suitability for the job).
When Abbott was campaigning as Opposition Leader, the only people pointing out his total incompetency in every area and fact checking his bullshit were writers like me in independent media and left-wing politically engaged social media users. We all said the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes and we were all written off as partisan hacks.
But, then, like a snowball, journalists in the mainstream media began to realise that all was not well with the Abbott project and the wheels started falling off the bus amongst his colleagues too.
When his polls continued to dive to new and electorally disastrous lows, his colleagues did the only thing politicians know how to do when their ship is taking on water – they jumped off it to save their own skin. That’s how we got rid of Abbott in two years, which was a shame really looking back as I regret that the country didn’t have a chance to take our displeasure to the polls. But either way, every day without Abbott as Prime Minister was a good day (until we realised the guy who took over from him was the same pig, just wearing nicer lipstick – but don’t worry yourself about that as getting rid of Trump is your first urgent order of business).
Now, before I let you go away confident in the knowledge that Trump will not prevail, there is one last thing you need to know:
5) You’re going to have to help Trump on his way
I know you’re already doing your best in this respect, but you’re going to have to do better. Keep writing, criticising, pointing out his absurdity, sharing and posting about his failures, calling him out for his lies and bullshit, organising and generally uniting in a fierce wave of Trump-opposition.
I’m not just talking about social media. Take to the streets. I know there were protests when Trump was elected – and good on you for that. But the most success we had in Australia marching against Abbott came not when he was elected, but when he started to announce policies which were deeply unpopular in the electorate. We had a string of national March in March events which brought together tens of thousands of like-minded anti-Abbott marchers, and really helped to solidify the country’s dissatisfaction with Abbott’s policies. Here’s a link to my speech at the first March in March in front of 6,000 South Australians. Abbott was elected in 2013. The marches started in early 2014. He was gone in 2015.
I promise you that Trump and Abbott are beasts of the same breed and that the fate of Abbott awaits Trump. You’ve got mid-terms in two years to work towards. Go for it. We’re all counting on you. And if you could get rid of him before he starts World War III that would be a major bonus too. Good luck.
Excellent, Victoria. I particularly like “when the country needs solutions and all you have is a whining toddler saying no all the time”. Trump has just today proved himself to be no more than a whining toddler, with his spiteful “nair nair ni nair nair” response to Meryl Streep. The man is just about as graceless as a tantrum-throwing 2-year-old in a supermarket. I feel like tweeting “Is that all you’ve got?” (if I could be bothered to work out how to use Twitter).
By comparison, Abbott was a tad more mature, but hadn’t (and still hasn’t) grown beyond the adolescent bully-boy he was in his student politics days. It’s probably too late now to hope that he ever will.
Here’s a question: who will be first to try to impeach him? His political opponents the Democrats, riding on a wave of popular disapproval, or his so-called allies the Republicans, desperate to get one of their more mainstream right-wingers into the White House?
If Trump were to be impeached and convicted, Veep Mike Pence has a record as the Governor of Indiana that makes Trump look rational and moderate.
You have nailed the problem, Hemingway. Pence would obviously get the gig if Trump were to be thrown out mid-term, and he would prove much more focussed and mature than Trump in pursuing his right wing agenda. Then in the 2020 campaign you would get the re-emergence of Cruz and other challengers to build on Pence’s assault.
The Republicans have the Congress, and the Senate, and the Presidency. The only one of these with which they are unhappy is the Presidency. They will want Trump out as soon as possible, but we need to be afraid, very afraid, of what they replace him with.
This is another perspicacious and compelling analysis by Ms Rollison.
In a country where the vast majority of its media is owned by six mega-corporations, however, one needs to assess how these negatives for Trump’s presidency will be watered down, if not overwhelmingly whitewashed by those who will be gifted massive profits from his extremist policies.
Obviously, the Republican party’s core voter base of at least 40% will always be the rusted-on evangelicals, ignoramuses and bigots across the spectrum. The recent Supreme Court decision permitting corporations to donate vast sums to elect ultra-conservatives has now become a well-oiled juggernaut for all Republicans running in marginal election contests. Then there’s egregious voter suppression, blatant gerrymandering of House electorate boundaries and the sheer bad luck that most low population states are Republican strongholds awarded not only the same number of Senators as the largest states but also a disproportionately higher number of Electoral College votes per capita than llarger states.
So, just multiply by a factor of three the handicaps that our Labor Party faces every Federal election, and you have some idea of how difficult it will be for the US Democratic Party to gain a majority in either national legislative body in November 2018. The only consolation as that Trump’s age, animosity and avarice will obviate him running for re-election in 2020. That’s going to be the most crucial election of this millenium because it being a Census year means the electoral boundaries must be redrawn by the state governments. If the Republicans win both houses of Congress and the Presidency again in 2020, the global warming tipping point will indubitably be triggered in the lifetime of those who reached voting age last year.
Notwithstanding these gloomy ruminations, I hope 2017 will bring far, far better political outcomes in Australia than 2016, and send my deepest appreciation to Ms Rollison for continuing to write articles of extraordinary sagacity on this site.
Victoria America is two continents please refer to the USA the country not the two continents, that said you are, as usual 100% correct. If the lazy buggars in the USA can get off their a–e and vote Trump out in 4 years they may be able to save some of the furniture as Australia may save in 2019.
Townsville, the two continents are usually referred to as “the Americas”. Hardly anyone, reading the word “America” would fail to recognise that the author was referring to the USA, especially in an article where the main subject is the President-elect of the USA. Your reply exposes your pointless pedantry.
Even Trump himself refers to his country as “America”, as in “Make America great again”.
Reblogged this on Townsville Blog..
Excellent compare and contrast. Loved the speech! Keep up the great work. We need more strong voices like yours instead of people shouting into their own lunchboxes.
Getting rid President much harder than PM
I am praying that trump is impeached and pence will be voted out ASAP
“Don’t worry America – Trump won’t last” – of course, you are right, but his followers and their attitudes will last. That’s the truly scary part.
Then we have Pence.