We All Have Issues

In The Art of Travel, 5. Politics, Sydney by Flurin

How the political climate in America is viewed by the rest of the world, seems to be very strange right now. This is particularly true here in Australia, where, from what I have gathered, a lot of the political cues are taken from the US. On the one hand, I get the sense that US politics is seen as a joke or an embarrassment among Australians, yet it also seems to drive the political agenda here. It is obvious to see why many left leaning people would see the US as a less than desirable place to be right now. Trump is in office and doesn’t seem to be able to keep his white house or tweeting under control. The republican controlled congress keeps trying to kill healthcare legislation and is increasingly becoming a laughing stock for not being able to do it. The seemingly cruel treatment of puerto ricans after hurricane Maria has been in the news as of late. The list goes on and on. However, I was surprised to learn that the hot-button topic in Australia right now is marriage equality. The 2015 supreme court ruling, on the state bans on same-sex marriage, almost seems like ancient history to me, and yet here I am in a country, I thought was much more progressive on social issues than the country I had left, which has a national ban on same sex marriage.

I found out, from the same article linked above, that the national debate on marriage equality started during the 2016 election in Australia, when Malcolm Turnball’s government made a campaign promise to hod a mandatory plebiscite, which is a non-binding survey the government conducts on an issue. Knowing, from my Australian Experience class, that Australia has a history of taking political cues from the US, it is not hard to connect the dots. The timing of the issue of marriage equality being thrust into the national conversation in Australia aligns very well with the 2015 US supreme court decision. So, this has put me in somewhat of a strange position. The same people, who would judge me for being American based on the current political climate, are the same ones, who are using a political supreme court ruling to effect change on a social issue in Australia. Personally, I have struggled to make sense of this peculiar feeling, mainly because, from a logical standpoint, I understand that good ideas can come from anywhere and shouldn’t be discarded just because the place they came from might have things going on, which one does not personally agree with, but on the other hand, I am also resentful of the fact that people are using that idea to their advantage, while projecting condescension toward the place it came from.

In the end I think it is great that the US was able to spark a debate here in Australia, but I do feel people could do with a little less of their air of superiority, and remember that while the US isn’t a perfect place to live in right now, neither is Australia. Both countries have their issues, and just like I don’t judge everyone in Australia for the government having a ban on same-sex marriage, I feel it would be good if they wouldn’t judge all Americans for the perceived flaws in the results our political system has produced.

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