Australia’s Reaction to the Election of Barack Obama

In an unusual turn of events for Australia, and more than likely as a measure of relief felt around the country, the inauguration of Barack Obama was telecast on several television stations, which indicated that the expectations in Oz are easily as high as those of his fans in the States.

After an initial acceptance of George W. Bush in his first term, (an acceptance that goes with the job by default), the general perception was very negative towards him, even before the end of his first term. In spite of his affable performances before the camera, and a huge wave of sympathy after the September 11 attacks, folks here in Australia generally realised that the President was especially lightweight when it came to thinking things through.

It wasn’t just the trouble he had with the English language, either. The perception here was that he didn’t understand diplomacy, was making matters worse in the terrorism stakes, and was prepared to utter any old rubbish before the cameras, expecting everyone to buy it. But, with the exception of our then Prime Minister, it certainly wasn’t bought in Oz. Sadly and surprisingly, however, it was bought by the American voters. This not only shocked Aussies, but just about every other country from which we get the news feeds.

Clearly, history has shown that the U.S. voters should have been much more judicious, but the damage was done, and now we here in Oz are wondering just how many fairies there are at the bottom of American voters’ gardens. They certainly don’t demand much of their leaders, and seem more inclined to embrace rather than challenge them.

Now, however, we have a whole new ball game, and Aussies are excited. The new leader is not only not a Republican, but he appears to be a Thinker, too. How this contradiction could occur in the U.S. voting system is perplexing to us, and how Americans will deal with it, is going to be interesting, too.

Rather than just a party change, the U.S. is about to discover an attitude change that requires them to watchdog their leader and keep the pressure on. This is going to be well beyond the party hacks who signed up for life, and it will be invigorating to see how long it takes them to recognise and adhere to the ‘customer-focused’ approach. I am sure Obama will do a good job, but he’ll do even better if regular folk keep him on the ball.

In Oz, we’re looking forward to seeing someone who is not out of his depth, if a problem requires more than applying bombs to it. We’re also very pleased to see that terrorism is going to have to do its own fundraising and recruitment, rather than rely on the efforts of a reckless George W. Bush, and the hard-earned dollars of the U.S. taxpayer. Being the optimists that we are, we hope to see a smarter financial plan, though the reality is that this may be stifled by the U.S. Senate. We also expect to see fewer bombs and more brain applied to foreign affairs, something that shouldn’t see too much resistance from the American people.

Finally, though it saddens me to say it, Aussies are wondering if President Obama can survive a whole term in office. Our expectations of how Americans deal with this change for the better are not good. This perhaps comes from our seeing the absolute worst of the so-called “rednecks” on the news, and having seen the support by this cluster for the last president, even when he was clearly out of his depth, has us worrying that action against a smarter President might transpire before the brains click in.

Time will tell.

Last 5 posts by Peter McCarthy

Last 5 posts by Peter McCarthy