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Canberra Today 8°/10° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Escape America’s fate with a simple vote

Rupert Murdoch… backing one side to the hilt. Photo: Eva Rinaldi

“One side has rejected the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart”‘ One side is led by a Pentecostal who boasts of ‘miracles’. One side is perfectly sanguine about the misuse of public funds with the ‘pork barrel’ euphemism,” columnist ROBERT MACKLIN has a one-sided views of this election. 

SADLY, the leaked draft of the US Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade to outlaw abortion is only the most recent notch in the firearm of self-destruction that could well culminate in a bullet through the peaceful governance of our most powerful ally. 

Robert Macklin.

And the man who clicked off the safety catch of political moderation was and is an Australian. 

Oh, what an irony that is. 

Ever since Prime Minister John Curtin declared in 1942 that “Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the UK” for the defence of the nation, we have sheltered behind the American parental shield. We have even surrendered our national interest – as in the madness of Iraq and Afghanistan – to ensure that commitment.

But the American carapace is today attacked from the inside as its constituent parts threaten to break it asunder with a toxic mix of race, religion, and venality. And stirring the pot are the perfervid ravings of our own Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. 

In the words of “The New York Times” columnist Frank Bruni: “We were already on the edge. This could push us over.”

It was very much more than a clever columnist’s throwaway line. The American democratic experiment is in deep trouble. And alas, all three ingredients of the mix are present within the Australian polity, if in different measure.

The American “race” issue is the direct result of the slave trade conducted by Britain’s 10,000 shipboard journeys over three centuries from Africa to its colonies in the Caribbean and thence to America. Indeed, the grandiose emblems of that enterprise are on show each week in the castles and manor houses of the “Antiques Roadshow” television program. Some 235 years after its slave-owning farmers signed the US Constitution, it remains a huge festering sore on that country’s body politic.

The religious component followed the flight of the Puritans from a Britain that had bloodied and burned the nation’s churches and battlefields since the Reformation of the 16th century. And the notion of a God-given America is as powerful as it has ever been… and as divisive in the hands of today’s Pentecostal evangelicals.

The venality is self-evident as the billionaire oligarchs and corporations corrupt their political puppets in the endless election campaigning. Then toss in a narcissist named Trump, aided and abetted by an equally amoral media tycoon, and a nation irredeemably split between contending perceptions of “truth” becomes Frank Bruni’s precipice, with America trembling on the brink. 

Beside this, you might say, Australia’s situation is looking pretty good.

Yet it doesn’t take much imagination to perceive the parallels as we prepare to go to the polls. 

One side has refused to recognise and honour our First Nations peoples by rejecting the “Uluru Statement from the Heart”. One side is led by a Pentecostal who boasts of “miracles” dispensed in his favour. One side is perfectly sanguine about the misuse of public funds with the “pork barrel” euphemism.

Oh, and Murdoch’s media is backing that side to the hilt. 

The good news is that we have a chance to escape America’s fate with a simple vote in the federal election. 

We could take that step from adolescent dependence on the American shield to a friendship between close mates with thanks and good cheer (“Sorry about Rupert”). 

Some would even turn Curtin’s call into a curtain call. But perhaps that’s one of those faded red lines that forever colours our old colonial map.

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Ian Meikle, editor

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin

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