By Madeline Playford
2020 is already historic and it’s barely begun. A new decade can often invite new controversies, and the political world has not disappointed. Most significantly, within the last 50 days the world has witnessed the UK’s protracted withdrawal from the European Union, infamously known as Brexit, America faced its 3rd presidential impeachment trial in history, and closer to home, the Australian government has been left red-faced over its uncaring response to the bushfires that have ravaged the country. At a time when true democracy dictates that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government”, we must wonder, how we end up dissatisfied with the decisions of the government elect.
Brexit, a word which has recently been toyed into Megxit (another UK controversy), was officially given birth in June 2016. Whilst over half the UK population voted to leave the EU, 69% of those in favour were over the age of 65 years. The concern of many is that this boomer population may not experience the full consequences of this newfound independence as much as their younger counterparts, but more symbolically, this political action will go down in history for destabilising one of the most influential governments in the Western world. The current UK leader, Boris Johnson, aka BoJo the Clown, is the third prime minister since announcing plans to leave the EU.
Elsewhere, the world has followed the recent impeachment trial of American President Donald Trump, only the third American President in history to be impeached. On December 18th, Trump was impeached for abusing his power in office and obstruction of Congress and the Constitution. The charges related to his efforts to withhold aid from the Ukraine to pressure them to investigate Hunter Biden (Democratic candidate and former vice president Joe Biden’s son), and thereby disrupt the 2020 election.
Unsurprisingly, Trump was acquitted in the Senate, however, it was the first time that the entire opposing party (Democrats) voted to convict the president. Whilst this historic trial may stain his presidency (among an array of other antics), Trump recently boasted about his approval ratings of 49%, the “best he’s ever had”, vowing to continue to ‘Make America Great Again’ in the coming decade. He will be infamously remembered in US history for his unjust hold over arguably the most important institution: the judicial system.
In our own backyard, Australia’s bushfire season has been nothing less than a tragedy, sadly spanning 5 months from September 2019. The Australian Government has been heavily criticised for their inadequate response, particularly on the back of their policies around climate change.
A staggering estimated 1.25 billion animals have been lost, fertile farming land deemed unfarmable, more than 2,500 homes destroyed and 30 people dead. Not since 2009 have we had such a destructive bushfire season, and yet despairingly, there has been no significant shift in the government’s policies to curb emissions and invest in more renewable energy. Government agency bushfire funds have been struggling to reach those in desperate and desolate circumstances, despite the painful lessons from the Black Saturday fires. Scientists assure us that climate change isn’t going to disappear, and the severity of these climatic emergencies, whether in the form of fires, drought or floods, is only to worsen. It seems obvious that there needs to be greater communication between non-governmental organisations, such as the Rural Fire Service and BlazeAid, and the government, for seamless and efficient response to disasters. However, what about at an individual level?
Across the world, people need to remember that social consciousness is powerful and necessary, it unites communities and nations, creating an informed and motivated vehicle through which change can occur. It reminds us, particularly young people, not to ignore their responsibility to make our nation a better place for all. How about having a hand in political history?
By Madeline Playford