July 25th, 2022Elections in a democracy
IN LATE May, Australians exercised their democratic right in the 2022 federal election. Whether deciding based on policies or personalities, voters chose to remove from power the conservative Liberal-National Coalition led by Scott Morrison, in favour of the more progressive Labor Party and its partners, led by Anthony Albanese.
As the votes were tallied and the outcome became clear, Morrison conceded defeat, saying that he’d “always believed in Australians and their judgment”, and that he’d “always been prepared to accept their verdict”, according to a New York Times report.
Now, this shouldn’t be news to anyone, but to an observer in the United States of America it is noteworthy. An election was called, Australians turned out and cast their ballots – and maybe chomped on a sizzled sausage or two – the votes were counted, the winners basked in the thrill of victory and losers put their hands in their pockets and trudged off home. Simple, right?
Well, maybe for some democratic countries governed by the rule of law, but not so easy for others. Remember back in November 2020, the US held an election in which one of the jobs up for grabs was president? The far-right Republican incumbent, Donald Trump, was soundly beaten by centrist Democrat Joe Biden, by about 7 million votes.
Even before vote counting began, Trump revealed his “Big Lie” campaign, claiming that the election had been rigged and that he was still rightfully president. In the past two years, all of Trump’s claims have been thoroughly debunked and exposed as lies and fantasies.
It’s become the stuff of legend, right? A democratic country such as the US, a world leader and all that, will tighten up its bootlaces and move on, right?
OK, well, maybe not. A few weeks ago, on the weekend of June 20, at a convention in Houston, Texas, the state’s Republican Party passed a resolution saying that President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election was “illegitimate”, says a report in the National Review.
“We reject the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden jnr was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States,” Texas Republicans declared.
Not being content with trying to subvert US democracy, the Texas Republicans also heaped scorn and condemnation upon one of their own, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, because he’d participated in recent bipartisan negotiations on gun control legislation.
Remember that it was only about a month ago that an 18-year-old armed with high-powered assault rifles murdered 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Because he was 18, the killer was able to legally buy the weapons and ammunition.
Meanwhile, back at the Texas Republican convention, members added a third plank to their party’s platform, declaring homosexuality to be “abnormal”, says the National Review.
“Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice,” the Texas Republicans ruled. “No one should be granted special legal status based on their LGBTQ+ identification.” They also stated their opposition to “all efforts to validate transgender identity”.
Now, this is all happening in Texas, which is just one of 50 states comprising the Unites States of America. But it’s worth noting that it is the second biggest state, behind Alaska.
It is also second in population, at about 30 million people, trailing only California’s 39 million, which gives Texas 38 votes in the deeply flawed Electoral College system, and which gives it significant power in choosing the US president, second only to California’s 55.
Australians, regardless of their political persuasions, are to be congratulated for their steadfast adherence to democratic ideals. But will the US look abroad as it struggles to continue as a democratic country under the rule of law? Doubtful.
Of more concern is the possibility that far-right Republican Texas-style political sickness will continue to infect other nations.
According to a report in the Crikey online news service, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer narrowly managed to secure a senate seat in Victoria for his candidate Ralph “Deej” Babet.
Crikey says Palmer’s United Australia Party had been following the Trump template and complained that the 2022 election had been rigged. Other news services report that Babet has shown an unbecoming fondness for conspiracy theories and far-fetched political positions.
Babet reportedly has been employed in “the real estate sector”, according to the ABC. Do we need to be reminded that the don, the Donald, the godfather of far-right crackpot populist politics, had his start in the real estate game? No, we do not.
After many happy years living in Victoria and working at The Age, former Wheatsheaf resident Jeff Glorfeld, and his wife Carol, went back to California, the land of his birth, where in the past four years he has survived bushfires, snowstorms and drought. And Trump. And Covid. The cicadas and locusts didn’t arrive. Well, not yet.