Donald Trump is president. Hardly anyone saw it coming, except for the 59 million voters who elected Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States. From calling Hillary Clinton “crooked” to describing President Barack Obama as someone who “looks and sounds so ridiculous“, Trump is no stranger to name-calling. He also broke all the rules about politics by launching personal attacks from the start of his campaign right till the end and rarely apologised. His words sent social media into meltdown and streets into protests, yet the businessman with no political experience will be on his way to the White House. That bluntness endeared him to the half of the electorate that was sick of “political correctness” and politicians who never delivered on their promises.
He called Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists” and promised to ban muslims from entering the country until he figures “what the hell is going on”. Instead of repelling voters away, his insults confirmed what his supporters wanted to say but couldn’t, they saw him as a non-politician who “tells it like it is.” While less than half of America saw Trump as a businessman with an uncensored mouth, others loved his bold un-PC ways. They saw him as a voice that spoke for them.
But it’s not just Trump who has been excelling by being bold, direct and unfiltered. Pauline Hanson has seen a rise in numbers of supporters. In August, Australia’s mainstream parties received their lowest share of the vote in more than 50 years.
In an interview with Nine’s Karl Stefanovic, Ms Hanson praised American voters’ “people power”.
“I just think there was a big change. We need a change right across the world. This is a revolution, it’s called people power,” she said with a beaming grin.
“People are fed up with what the major political parties have been dishing out for years, and they’re saying, no, we want change.”
Despite changing prime ministers five times in five years, Australia’s political playground has been pretty much the same. Be it the mining tax, gambling reform, GST changes, negative gearing, greyhound racing bans, all it takes is a whiff of anger in the electorate for politicians to decide against upsetting the status quo. Let’s not even start on the plebiscite.
When Trump threatened a Ford Motor factory a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure, Trump had already won the hearts of Michigan’s working class and walked away with a big victory that sealed his fate. When he called for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, he had secured voters who had been dreaming for a sharp-shooting politician. In their minds, they wanted a leader who is not afraid to say what he thinks.
In Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech to Parliament in 1996, she made the same a claim about Asians and repeated her call for a ban on Muslim immigration and warned Australians would eventually be forced to live under sharia law, if something did not change. “We are in danger of being swamped by Muslims who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own,” she said. But Ms Hanson says that she isn’t a racist: “Everyone’s entitled to fair go. You know, just be fair, just be honest. That’s who I am.”
Just like the Trump-effect, Pauline’s unfiltered words did not repel supporters. Instead, she attracted more people who believe that bluntness and brutal honest is a breath of fresh air. Is Australia ready for this type of political showdown?