On the 11 th of May 1996, I was born in Minneapolis. My mother American and my father Australian. Simply by being born, I became a citizen of two of the most privileged nations on earth.
Not until recently, did I think I would feel such a lack of pride, disgust even, for both my nations.
In the lead up to the 2016 US presidential election, now living in Melbourne, I was still proud to be American. Nervous, but proud. Every American I met in Australia either came with heeded warnings of where we were headed or oblivious ignorance, sometimes both. At the end of these interactions I always left with one piece of advice: ‘Don’t forget to vote.’
On election day, I waited. I had sent my postal vote away weeks prior and now all I could do was sit, watch, and bite my fingernails. In the afternoon I was flying to see my parents in the Northern New South Wales town Brunswick Heads, which I had called home since moving to Australia in 2002.
When I took off, things were still hanging in the balance, Florida was yet to fall. Two hours later when I landed in Coolangatta, there was a new president elect and a whole new world of media hysteria; the unthinkable had occurred.
On the drive home, I sat in silence while radio announcers conducted a post-mortem of what had happened while I was in the air. When the plane descended, it had shaken and wobbled through dark clouds. On the winding highway towards home the clouds hung above us, ominous and threatening. In the distance there was spurts of lightning and the rumbling of thunder.
However, that was just the beginning.
Shortly after Trump took office, while reading the transcript of a conversation between the two leaders of my nations, my disgust would be propelled to new levels. Trump and Turnbull squabbled and argued about who was to take the mere twelve hundred refugees that are still sitting on Manus Island and Naru, Trump jokingly said that Turnbull was ‘even worse than I am.’ As a citizen of both nations responsible for the power of these men, it was hard to see who was worse, but it didn’t really matter. In this case both the pot and the kettle were black with bad deeds.
On 15 th of July 2017, an Australian woman named Justine Dammond was shot and killed in her pyjamas by a member of the Minneapolis Police Force. In some ways, this was a culmination of my recent turmoil.
Whenever something of this nature happens in America, Australians are quick to judge, especially if an Australian is involved: ‘this could only happen in America.’ When I hear comments like this, I can’t help but recoil. The similarities between the two nations are too much to bear at times. From the sugar filled diet and the pop culture, to the wars we fight in, Australia and the United States have walked hand in hand for as long as it has mattered.
Maybe much of Australia’s anti-America stance derives from being turned into Crocodile Dundee or some bushman ‘throwing anotha shrimp on the barbie’ and disregarded as a nation of importance. Sadly, stereotypes run both ways and Australians have turned every American into Big Mac eating, gun toting Trump voters in their minds eye.
Worst of all, while all this goes on our leaders patch up their problems and get on with ‘representing us’. Last month, Turnbull visited the white house for what has been touted as the most important meeting beteeen the leaders of my nations since the old guard of Bush and Howard linked up in 2006. What they spoke exactly is unknown but rest assured it included a good douse of Malcy kissing ass and begging for an American return to the TPP. Or perhaps they spoke of Trump’s new ambassador in Canberra, Admiral Harry Harris, who not only has the fakest name I have heard this year, but was also accused of labelling manslaughter as suicide while head honcho at Guantanamo Bay.
Whatever the discussions between Turnbull and Trump were about, it is a certainty that the partnership that hails all the way back to ANZUS will hold strong, for better or worse. During Turnbull’s stay, it was announced that a new US warship will be named The USS Canberra in honour of our great history. Perhaps they will give it its first float in the South China Sea.
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