What President Trump means for Australia


It’s the end of the world, or maybe not. Tired with being unfairly saddled for years with stereotypes by the left’s non-gender specific young persons who cried wolf, the American right elected as president a guy who finally fits the stereotype. He will wind back the progress by a century, exterminate the minorities, start a nuclear war, and cause a global environmental Armageddon. In any case, we’re all going to die, including the innocent Aussies. Or, again, maybe not. In the meantime, as the Canadian Immigration website crashed yesterday, overwhelmed by traffic from the United States, Google registered huge spikes for searches “move to Australia” and “move to New Zealand”. I can’t speak for our cousins from across the Tasman, but to all the Americans considering seeking a political asylum Down Under I would like to say this: please don’t; we don’t need any more whinging lefties here, we have plenty of our own.

But other than flotillas of desperate American boat people washing on our shores (or, considering the demographics of progressive voters, yacht people), how will the Trump Presidency affect Australia?

Culture: As much as I dislike Trump, I confess that the sound of left-wing heads exploding all over the media, the commentariat and the academia, splattering the walls of inner-city cafes and university eateries with brain and gore, is quite enchanting and relaxing, the way listening to the sound of crashing waves is when you’re sunning yourself at a beautiful Queensland beach. The left hates America already, and can hardly hate her even more. There has been a bit of a truce while the Yanks have done the respectable thing and kept electing the first black president (a real one, not like Bill Clinton). The truce would have been extended were Hillary to be the first female president, but the Democrats made the blunder of selecting a congenital liar and corrupt felon, so there is that.

So prepare for the return of the United States as the dystopian hell narrative in all its progressive glory. The progressive left will engage in all the bigotry, prejudice, condescension and name calling it accuses those vile, stupid, racist, sexist, mouth-breathing Trump supporting Americans of.

The election of Trump will no doubt also embolden our domestic conservatives and populists, from Cory Bernardi to Pauline Hanson, which means even more gnashing of teeth at “our” ABC and Fairfax to buy all the inner city dentists new sports cars every year for the next decade.

Economy: Trump’s main appeal was to the victims, not the beneficiaries, of the modern American capitalism; people of the Rust Belt’s Main Street (or whatever is left of it) rather than the “cosmopolitans” and “globalists” or Wall Street. Trump’s Grand New Party is increasingly the party of the working class, while the Democrats are torn between the Clinton plutocratic wing and the Sanders socialist wing, which wants to occupy it.

In the MAGA songbook, greatness = industry and manufacturing = tariffs and protection. For Trump, free trade is pretty much rape. I don’t expect that the existing free trade agreements (such as the one with Australia) will be wound back, but there is little chance of any new agreements being approved. This means that ironically Donald is likely to save the left from its bete noire, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Foreign affairs: like George Washington, Trump is not big on foreign entanglements. He sees other nations as either economic competitors who are underhandedly killing American jobs, or freeloading and rent-seeking allies, or Trumpesque strongmen he hasn’t yet made friends with. Just about the only foreign policy interest that Trump has is “fighting terrorists”, which in his case means allying himself with people like Putin and Assad. Other than that, it’s disengagement on all fronts, which is music to the ears of PRICKs – Petrocracies, Russia, Iran, China, Korea, and various other international deplorable hangers-on, who are America’s strategic competitors around the world. This is a dangerous world, not the least to America’s traditional allies (whether freeloading or not) who might be left dangling in the cold by the President who believes that the United States needs to come home and look after herself, leaving Russia to look after Eastern Europe, Turkey after the Middle East, and presumably China after Asia. It might get a bit lonely in the southern hemisphere.

In other words, a mixed bag: the good, the ambiguous, and the ugly. Just like life.