News Paul Bongiorno: Choice words can be a vote of confidence in elections
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Paul Bongiorno: Choice words can be a vote of confidence in elections

The examples set by leaders in elections here and overseas can never be underestimated, Paul Bongiorno says. Photo: TND
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By Australian standards the fault lines in the American presidential election have broadened into a chasm of extremes.

The most obvious manifestation is the failure of the Trump administration to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously.

Rather than go all out to contain it, Donald Trump has attempted to turn it into a political weapon against Joe Biden.

Not to be underestimated is the impact American politics has on our own.

Our politicians and their parties are always looking for new and better ways to win elections; American campaign techniques are studied and copied especially if they provide a path to victory.

Australian politicians study campaign techniques, as Donald Trump and Joe Biden set distinctly different standards.

Australians can be grateful that none of our political leaders, state or federal, have been impressed by the latest Trump playbook.

No one has defied and vilified medical scientific advice to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The argument here is over the level of health risk versus the damage to the economy in minimising it.

The Queensland election on the weekend came down firmly on the side of saving lives first and livelihoods as “soon as it is safe to do so”.

In that Prime Minister Scott Morrison does have something to mull over given his unrelenting criticism of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s border closures.

It is simply mind blowing that President Donald Trump in his desperate bid to close the gap on “Sleepy Joe” Biden is holding mass rallies across the swing states and lampooning the warnings of the medical experts.

“Covid, Covid, Covid,” Trump mocks “that’s all they’ve got to talk about” is a recurring mantra of his stump speeches.

On  the day the United States reported a record 101,000 new infections, Mr Trump told his supporters “we have turned the corner”.

As of Monday there were 9,207,364 COVID-19 infections in the US and a death toll of 230,996.

Epidemiologists say that death toll will double in coming weeks.

Economists at Stanford University estimate there have been at least 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths as a result of 18 Trump campaign rallies.

Mr Biden in Pennsylvania on Sunday (Monday, Australian time) said “we choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. And, yes, we choose truth over lies”.

If the American people endorse this call, hopefully politicians here and fellow travellers like billionaire disruptor Clive Palmer will get the message.

clive palmer borders doctors
Clive Palmer and other political players could soon face updated truth in political advertising laws. Photo: Getty

Mr Palmer’s multimillion-dollar big lie campaign on a Labor death tax didn’t work this time in Queensland, but surely new truth in political advertising laws are needed nationwide to ensure he can’t repeat the disgraceful exercise.

US statistician Nate Silver in his FiveThirtyEight blog has analysed all the national and state opinion polls and he gives the President a 10 in 100 chance of winning the election.

Silver gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 chance of victory, consolidating his frontrunner status two days out.

A Biden victory will have profound implications on global climate change policies.

The Blueprint Institute – a new think tank with connections to leading Liberal moderates Robert Hill and Christopher Pyne – in its latest report says the Morrison government’s current policies won’t make our Paris targets without fiddling with credits and risk hurting our international trade.

Joe Biden, unlike Mr Morrison, has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 and $2.4 trillion in climate initiatives.

There is a “fashion” in politics often shaped by the times in which we live.

A Biden victory will go a long way to set a new fashion globally, certainly in developed democracies.

If Mr Trump loses, it will further undermine the excuses coming out of the Queensland LNP and its federal colleagues that it was all Covid and incumbency that saw a Palaszczuk victory.

Incumbency, as Labor’s federal president Wayne Swan concedes, gives a unique opportunity. But in the end, it is how that is used that counts.

And if the polls are right in America, it is counting against Donald Trump.

Paul Bongiorno AM is a veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery, with 40 years’ experience covering Australian politics

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