Has America Lost its Political Centre?

If the state of the political climate in Australia wasn’t woeful enough, we have to contend with the circus that promises to be the Republican Pre-Selection on our news screens. And now after this week’s most consistently trending story out of the US – ‘boy makes clock for school, is accused of terrorism’ – we also have to deal with Sarah Palin.

In case you have been living under a rock, 14 year old Ahmed Mohamed from Texas made a clock and simultaneously managed to make international news when he was arrested for making a bomb. Everyone from President Obama to Mark Zuckerberg came out in support of the young student, with many suggesting this was racial profiling at its most insidious.

And now Sarah Palin has had her say, calling Mohamed ‘an evidently obstinate-answering student’ and stating ‘Right. That’s a clock, and I’m the Queen of England.’


Perhaps it would serve Americans better if Palin was the Queen of England. But let’s not get carried away. This kid made a clock. It shouldn’t be international news and the fact that it is a sad indictment on just how we are failing in the war on terror. What are we losing by being so alert to the worst possibilities and what kind of a world will our kids inherit if we grown ups can no longer see a clock as a clock?

It’s a frightening thought that we are edging ever closer to a line we cannot cross back over and sacrificing myriad small liberties along the way. But interestingly, this news story has not only highlighted the need for common sense when it comes to navigating the post 911 era, it has also drawn a bold circle around the American Political system.

In Australia, shock waves were felt when one of our most right wing politicians, (Tony Abbott), suggested the government stop funding the indigenous outposts. There was significant outrage, and many that claimed that the right were out of touch. Here we have a recent American Politician, (and would be vice president), openly accusing a Muslim child of building a bomb on social media.


Either our political landscape in Australia is surprisingly centralist or the Americans are drifting further down stream towards the extreme right. The fact that a man like Donald Trump could potentially become president is downright terrifying, not just for the US but for the entire Western world. While he hasn’t commented on this particular story, he has suggested that the staff of Charlie Hebdo should have been armed in order to prevent their own deaths in a terrorist attack. That says plenty about his thoughts on terrorism and on gun laws.

This is a man that believes vaccinations cause autism. Given this link has been thoroughly and utterly disproven through the scientific process, by extension Trump is also a denier of all things science. He believes Mexicans are ‘rapists’ and is proudly anti-Muslim. He has made several questionable comments about the women on his television show ‘The Apprentice’. This is the man who may soon lead an entire country of over 300 million people for at least four years.

My guess is he has so much money that he’s simply taking the opportunity to play out his own grievances on Prime Time Television and the Presidential Race is a secondary concern. Or perhaps he’s just seen a marketing angle to exploit, in which case if he’s right the American voting public is moving further towards right field with him.

Some would say that Sarah Palin is not representative of the right anymore, but more likely the American political system is in a state of transition and moving sharply towards a more conservative and regressive middle. In a world where the most logical conclusion to a kid making a clock is that he’s a terrorist, that’s a terrifying thought.

In stark contrast to the science denying Trump, Barrack Obama had this response for Ahmed:

“We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

Here’s hoping.

4 thoughts on “Has America Lost its Political Centre?

  1. I often wonder if your Sarah Palins, Donald Trumps, Mike Huckabees, and the like actually believe their nonsense or if they are just in competition to say the most outrageous thing to feed the 24 Hour Fox News Cycle of Outrage. They are all media celebrities in this circle, and if you haven’t proven your right wing anti-libreral credentials lately, you are – in Donald Trump parlance “fired.”
    Perhaps it’s just the leftie circles I travel in, but most of the people I know are much more center than these talking heads would suggest. I’m baffled by Trump’s seeming popularity, but it’s not uncommon in these early days of Presidential races for a “maverick” candidate to be polling well. Bernie Sanders is doing the same on the Left vs centerist Hillary Clinton. I really believe that when push comes to shove, people are going to go with someone who appears a little bit more moderate.
    I hope so, anyway.

    1. I notice today that Fiorina is polling well. She appears to be a lot more moderate than most of the GOP candidates. I hope you’re right!

      Of course, today I see more rhetoric from the U.S. About abortion: while the republicans are trying to defund Planned Parenthood even Democrat Joe Biden seems to believe ‘abortion is always wrong’. There certainly seems to be a right lean in American politics.

      1. Definitely a right lean in American politics – I think mostly due to religion. Joe Biden stance on abortion would come from his Catholic faith. I’m sick over the defunding of Planned Parenthood. It’s a very stupid move that is indicative of the move right. I’ve also noticed in recent years that moderate Republicans have had to move more right to try to court the Tea Party vote. So, when I say that I think America is more center than Palin/Trump would suggest, I definitely mean center right, and determinedly Christian. I’d say electing an atheist would be a final frontier in American politics.

  2. That’s very true – faith seems to be a much bigger deal to Politicians in the US than it is here. From what I understand the Tea Party began as a centre right group and have progressively moved further and further right over the last decade or so. Where they originally stuck strictly to economic policy, a very conservative social agenda has become more prevalent at its fringes which seems to be dragging the party further and further right. Its interesting for Australia as we will most likely become a republic sometime in the near future. I hope we put enough thought into how a new system of government would be implemented to avoid some of these catch falls.

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