Monday, February 13, 2017

Next Hope for America's First Female President?

When Hillary Clinton's quest to smash the glass ceiling of the Presidency failed last year, quite a few were already wondering where America's first female president was going to come from now. The US stands alone among its peers in never having had a female leader now, with the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ all having had female heads of state.

I remember J.K. Rowling being quite optimistic about that it would only be a matter of time. And she had reason to be optimistic: her own country is now on its second female prime minister.

But perhaps we should think about it another way: maybe we should stop deliberately hoping for a female President, and let it occur naturally. Perhaps the reason why the UK was able to have a second female prime minsiter without much fuss was because nobody, including women, cared too much about it. Here is my theory: after the reign of Thatcher in the 1980s, British progressives largely forgot about wishing for another female prime minister, and British conservatives learnt that female prime ministers may actually serve them well too. Much of the UK hence became 'neutral' about the gender of their leader ever since. And this neutrality has helped, in the long run.

After all, the recent history of female leaders and potential leaders has shown that playing the 'gender card' is a liability at the ballot box. Successful and popular female leaders like UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are not known to play the gender card. On the other hand, the gender card has arguably poisoned the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, both who were known to champion their feminist credentials heavily.

I'm not saying that it's not important to stand up for our feminist values. But in politics, strategy is everything, and apperently de-emphasizing the gender aspect gets more votes.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

What Will Donald Trump be like as President? Let's Look At Some Australian Parallels

In just a few days, Donald Trump will become President of the USA. What will the next four years be like? There's lots of speculation, but nobody knows for certain yet. But here's an interesting take on it:

Donald Trump's election last year saw the despair of many young and self-described progressive people, not just in the US but also around the world. But as a keen observer of Australian politics, I felt a sense of deja vu. Just three years earlier, when former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was elected, the situation was very similar. Young intellectuals were crying, protesting, saying that he was not 'their Prime Minister', even thinking of leaving the country. After all, Abbott was elected on a platform of securing the borders, repealing environmental measures, and making the government work again, whatever that meant. Sounds familiar? Should I also mention that Abbott didn't have a good reputation among feminists, and was opposed to marriage equality? Sounds familiar again?

In office, Abbott not only maintained his platform, but became increasingly nationalistic too, using the national security agenda to boost his polls. For many Australians, it was a really horrible time indeed. Yet his popularity went south and never quite came back again, despite all this. It appeared that people were not buying the nationalistic message anymore. Instead, when he moved to weaken Australia's government-funded healthcare system (another Trump parallel here?), people just lost faith in him, perhaps permanently.

Nationalism and 'border security' can only get you so far, bread and butter issues will count for much more in the long run. If Trump behaves like Abbott did, his popularity will not last.

In the end, Abbott's reign came to an end when his communications minister Malcolm Turnbull challenged him for the leadership, just shy of two years of the day he was sworn in. Of course, this kind of leadership change cannot occur in the US context. But there will be a mid-term election in 2018, and if that goes badly for the Republicans, there won't be a lot that the Trump administration will be able to do from that point onwards. (Think Obama's or Bush's last two years.)

Monday, December 5, 2016

So Taylor Swift was Responsible for Donald Trump Winning? I Don't Think So.

Today, I had a conversation with a friend where the topic of Taylor Swift's politics (or lack thereof) came up. My friend believed that Taylor Swift was actually partly responsible for Donald Trump's victory because she did not use her voice to persuade people to vote otherwise.

Now, even before the election there were people begging for Taylor Swift to put in an endorsement for Hillary, and when that didn't happen, some said she did not live up to the responsibilities of a feminist. Others went even further in their accusations. Out of respect to Taylor I'm not going to repeat them here.

But all these accusations aside, does somebody have the right to remain silent about their politics, no matter how far their audience reach is, no matter what impact they may be able to make otherwise? I think the answer is yes. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing celebrities get political, and get important conversations going. But if somebody doesn't want to do that, it's also their fundamental right. And having millions of fans shouldn't be grounds for taking away somebody's basic human rights.

Furthermore, I don't think Taylor Swift making an endorsement would have changed the result. Hillary already had the vast majority of the entertainment industry behind her, and having one more endorsement wouldn't have made a substantial difference. Besides, I would guess most of Taylor Swift's biggest fans, being young, female and feminist, would already have voted for Hillary anyway. I doubt she has any substantial influence among the Trump demographic, who was mostly either male or older people.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Moore are Right: Now's the Time to Work

For many people, right now is mourning time in America, because Donald Trump is set to become President come January next year, and nothing can change this.

But for some smarter heads, now's the time to get to work. Several celebrities, including most prominently Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Moore, have effectively said that now's the time to stand up for your values and make them work. And I couldn't agree more.

You know, as great a President Obama has been, relying on the government to stand against racism, bigotry and homophobia is not the way to go. It is neither a responsible or reliable way to improve society. A silver lining of Trump's election may just be that people will take responsibility for the world around them. People will have no choice but to stand up for their own values and be their champion. People will have no choice but to get politically involved, to campaign against unwanted policies.

And for that, America (and indeed the rest of the world) may emerge a better place in four years' time.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Will Lena Dunham, Barbara Streisand and Miley Cyrus Move to Canada? Hopefully Not.

Donald Trump has won the US Presidential election, regretfully for many people.

Earlier this year, Lena Dunham said she would move to Canada if Trump became president. Several other celebrities, including Miley Cyrus and Barbara Streisand, also signalled their intention to leave the US.

Of course now, the question is will these celebrities flee from the US, as they said they would. It appears that Lena Dunham will not, at least.

I actually hope that nobody leaves the US because of Donald Trump. There are a few reasons why. Firstly, this would be surrender. It would also be what Trump supporters want to see. Secondly, there would be fewer pro-liberty and pro-equality people in the US fighting against the Trump agenda. Finally, there would be fewer votes to count on in 2020, when Trump can actually be defeated.

Moreover, leaving doesn't change the fact that your family and friends will still be living under Trump. You won't be able to escape this fact, even if you move halfway across the world.

So Americans, please, please stay and stand up for your values in these difficult times. Even as an individual you have a lot to contribute.

Friday, November 4, 2016

I Endorse Hillary Clinton for US President

Firstly, I must say that I'm not American. So feel free to ignore what I say.

But for next week's presidential elections, I am endorsing Hillary Clinton.

I'm not saying that she is the perfect choice, but for me she was the best among all the candidates, even at the beginning of the year, before the field was narrowed down to two. This is because, among all the candidates running for the two main parties, Hillary seems to be the only person who has any respect for the idea of liberty. She's not religious right, isolationist, ultra nationalist, or anti economic freedom. And that makes her the most qualified candidate, in my opinion.

Of course, this is just my view. You are welcome to disagree, respectfully.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Congrats on 10 Years, Taylor Swift

This month marks 10 years since the 2006 release of Taylor Swift's first album.

So congratulations, you've really come a long way.

By the way, any new music soon?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Tom Hiddleston on the False Stories Out There

When Tom Hiddleston was recently asked what he had learned about the culture of celebrity in recent weeks, he gave quite an interesting response. One thing he said was that there are lots of false stories out there, and the important thing was to not let those false stories affect one's life.

Fans of both Tom and Taylor Swift (and unfortunately Taylor haters too) immediately jumped to analyse those comments.

While I don't think there's anything in there regarding their relationship, what he said is quite true. And while the culture of celebrity, with all the media attention, allows quicker spread of false rumours, this problem is not limited to celebrities, especially in the age of social media.

It's something we should all take time to think about, really.

Download the full song here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

At Least Taylor Swift Helps Out

One reason, we suspect, that some people dislike Taylor Swift is because she is rich, and she was always rich too. She is, perhaps, the ultimate reminder that life is not fair, at least to some people.

But hey, let's not hate her for that. Because, at least, she uses her money to help out. Just this year, she's helped a cancer patient with their treatment, she's helped Kesha in her legal battles, and now she's helping the Louisiana flood victims, donating a million dollars their way.

I mean, wealth inequality is a fact in our society, unfortunately. But if some people must be rich, at least let them be those who will use it well.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When Ivanka Trump can't just Enjoy Her Jewellery, we've collectively Sunk to a New Low

Ivanka Trump recently ordered some Jewellery online, and she received something she didn't expect: a handwritten note notifying her that the proceeds from her purchase have been donated to, amongst other organisations, the Hillary Clinton campaign.

I get the people behind this really hate Donald Trump.

But this is still uncalled for. A real Princess would never do this. It is, in my opinion, trashy behaviour.

Sure, they are welcome to donate to Hillary's campaign. But this, in my opinion, has been deliberately done out of contempt for the Trumps. After all, nobody else ordering the jewellery has received something like this. And while it is okay to have a strong opinion about Donald Trump's politics, it's not okay to bully his family to make your point. Indeed, if this kind of behaviour ever becomes acceptable and normal in society, we will have become less civilised for it.

Sometimes, everyone should just remember, our political opponents are people too.

TaraElla's Latest Single Not That Kind of Retro

This song is now available at the TaraElla Google Play shop.