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The difference between Americans & Australians: Federal elections -101 | It Started in LA | itstartedinla.com
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Politics and Federal elections

Politics and federal elections

The Presidential countdown is finally down to the last few weeks of the Federal election.  I’m not sure how CNN is going to fill its programming as it feels like the last 18 months (at least) has been spent in review of the “forthcoming” election.

It’s such an incredibly long process.  And I shudder to think how much money is spent.  The airfares, private jets, hotel rooms, entourage, campaign office, printing, verbiage, the Conventions and the advertising could possibly be enough to significantly reduce the US debt let alone feed an entire nation.

I like to think I’m pretty smart with my money; my motto is if you can’t afford something perhaps you should go without.  That’s pretty much how I feel about the election process here.  If you’re not going to change it, at least limit the spending.  (According to the FY17 Federal Budget, at the end of FY 2016, the gross US federal government debt is estimated at $19.3 trillion.  I rest my case.)

America is never going to change its political system—bloody hell they can’t even reduce gun ownership—so the purpose of this post isn’t to try to change them …  But seriously?

** After going to press I found this: it seems I’m not the only one who thinks America should shorten the election cycle.  Sign the petition, vote to save money and the headache of a lengthy, cumbersome, expensive process. **

OK, moving on.

So let’s do a little snapshot at the difference between America & Australia when it comes to…

Politics and federal elections

There are three major differences between elections in America and Australia.  (Actually there are probably no similarities but let’s just talk about these three things).

1. President v Prime Minister

So in Australia the head of the party elected in (Liberal, Labor—actually spelt Labor not Labour, Greens, Coalition, etc) gets to be the big guy (guy being a unisex term)—the Prime Minister.  Done.

In the US there is this big huge palaver that means someone like Donald Trump can go, “Hey, you know I’m pretty hot shit and I reckon I’d make a bloody good Pres.  So, with all my money I’m going to build a wall and make America great again.  And I’ll put myself in the race to be the nominee for the Republicans.  (Word has it that he has long been a Democrat.  Allegedly as I didn’t personally hear it from him).

OK it’s not quite that simple.  I’m not even sure how he pulled it off, where he got to the stage that he’s up there competing in the Primary.  (My friends promised me he wouldn’t—couldn’t—make it that far).  Now that you mention it I’m not sure how he got to the stage where he’s competing in the Federal election where he may well become President so let’s not get bogged down here.

Let’s just agree that in Australia you have to be the Leader of the Party to be PM and in America anyone can put their hand up to be Pres—you just have to put your life, soul and dollars into the process.

Qualifications for the Office of the President

In case you were wondering how these clowns can put their hand up and “avago” (Australian for have a go) I found this website.

     Age and Citizenship requirements—US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

  • No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.

     Term limit amendment – US Constitution, Amendment XXII, Section 1 –
ratified February 27, 1951

  • No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

That’s it?  I was almost too scared to Google it as I thought there would be pages and pages of hyperbole.  You can be impeached for having an affair (allegedly) but you can be whoever you like as long as you’re American and you haven’t been President more than twice.  Wow.

And now we have proof: all you really do need is a big mouth, an over-inflated ego and lots of money.

Back on topic …

2.   How they get there (the PM and Pres)

In Australia each party chooses their head guy (unisex).  A bit like Tribal Council (aka Survivor) there is a lot of behind-the-scenes jostling, bullying, counting and favour-asking.  So then when they come together to vote the outcome is pretty much known.  Unless there’s a #blindside.

In this case the loser spends a lot of time trying to get their numbers back up so they call for a Leadership challenge.  Yes, this has happened a lot lately in Australian politics.

Back in the US a few people decide to join the race to be the Democrat nominee and a few people decide to be the Republican nominee.  For about a year they talk about how good they are, the pollsters conduct polls and CNN debates the pros and cons of each guy (unisex) in the running.

They go around the country, have some sort of vote (whatever that means) and finally, at a lavish event costing tens of millions of dollars, the winner gets to be the nominee.  In a nutshell, the dumbed down condensed version.

If you’re after a more educated, fact-checked opinion on the matter you can read about it here.  And here.

3.   Time

Yep, time.  In Australia an election gets called.  In the last federal election (2016) I think it was called eight weeks out.  Campaigning is only allowed in that time and I’m pretty sure I heard somewhere along the way a budget is nominated for each side.  This could be wrong—I get all my facts from Facebook and Twitter—and seriously, if you’re a kid doing your politics assignment I wouldn’t be plagiarising my post.  That’s not really important.  What’s important is that it’s not a lot of time (comparatively speaking), but it’s too much time (if you get what I mean).

In the US it stretches over a year from the time these guys (unisex) step out in the public domain to announce they’re putting themselves in the running to be President.  That’s when they go running around the nation, campaigning in swing states and all that.  By the time they’re nominated (at their Party Convention) we’re sick of seeing them and hearing about them.

Take a moment to think about the poor guys who lost after investing all that time and effort only to come nowhere.  Nowhere.  Do you even remember their names?  (OK except Bernie Sanders, everyone may well remember his name).

Donald Trump for President

Can we talk about Donald Trump?

Yes, it’s more than a little bit embarrassing that one of the Republican candidate is a man who doesn’t give a shit what he says, changes what he says and has no respect for anyone.  A N Y O N E.  Is a man who can’t even respect the system let alone represent the system.

Seriously the scary thing is not that “middle America” will vote for him, it’s the supposed intelligent people that vote for him.  And they will.

See my favourite middle America videos here, they’re laugh out loud before lol was a thing:

Election coverage

CNN is thriving on its election coverage.  It’s everywhere here in the US.

But, on my recent trip back home I was surprised to see how into the election everyone was.  Everyone was dutifully informed and wanted to know what it was like to live through a US election.  Even the debates were televised live.

I think this is possibly known as the Trump-effect but it’s also because Australia likes to keep a close eye on what’s going on around the world and work out how it might affect it.  (Something might I add isn’t done here).

Debates

The last debate was last night (Praise the Lord).  This is possibly the only thing that’s the same between our two countries—except of course the actual voting itself and even then it’s compulsory in Australia and not here.

So, the debates.  Here it’s done at different Universities (Colleges) and it’s done in front of a live audience.  The only deal is that audience has to be perfectly quiet, like they’re not there.

In Australia, it’s done in a television studio in front of a live, carefully selected audience.  That audience has buttons that they push throughout the night gauging their reaction.  This reaction is meant to be reflective of the greater Australian sentiment.  They call it the worm.  And much time is spent analysing the worm.

worm.jpg

Politics and the federal elections Australia style: the worm during the great debate/s.

(Image from North Coast Voices)

If only America would introduce the worm.  So much more for CNN to analyse. So much more for their guests to argue about.

Only 20 more days (or thereabouts) til we have to put up with this stoopid election.  I hope America finds more competitive candidates next time… Michelle Obama please step forward.

xx It Started in LA xx

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