Dr Lisa Carson

On 5 November 2020, at an event hosted by Conversation at the Crossroads, Dr Lisa Carson (@DrLisaCResearch) from the Young Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom spoke about what the US election result may mean for Australia from a civil society perspective. In this week of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, here is the text of Dr Carson’s presentation at Australia and the World After Trump.

I’d like to start by acknowledging the lands on which I’m on, those of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations, and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging, and note that sovereignty was never ceded.

I’d also like to thank Crossroads Conversations for the invitation to take part in today’s event

I’m an optimist at heart, whether the glass is half full or empty, I’m glad there’s a glass and that there’s water involved. But when I look at the state of US politics, regardless of the winner - and granted I understand the early jubilation with Biden - my reaction is tempered by the degree and extent to which the humanity of our politics and practice has been lost in the process.  

The polarisation and echo chambers of both the emboldened left and the right, media concentration and opinions over facts, systemic race and institutional discrimination, governing for the next election rather than purpose, short term thinking over long term legacies, divisiveness over unity, fear over resilience, and individualism over the collective. Rather than despair and paralysis, this needs to be our fuel for change. 

What we’re seeing unfold in the US is cause for reflection here in Australia and abroad about how we can collectively guard against a similar path defined by entrenched inequity, rather build and deepen our own for the betterment of all, not just a few.

When it comes to our institutions of power, we need to continually question who they work for and why, and who they don’t. Whilst some will rightfully point to increased diversity, significant structural change within white western institutions remains elusive beyond the surface, characterised by tinkering rather than tackling, when it’s tackling that we need.  

  • We see this when we look at the representation of young people. People under the age of 25 make up almost half of the worlds population, yet their voices are largely missing, with only 1.65% of parliamentarians their 20’s. 

  • We see this when we look at climate change. We only have 10 years left to prevent irreversible damage with at least 1 in 4 species at risk of extinction, and we know that 83% of young people here are wanting significant change. 

  • We see this when we look at traditional western foreign policy, instead of more transformative multidimensional feminist approaches that elevate marginalised groups’ experiences and scrutinise the intersecting forces of patriarchy, racism, capitalism, colonisation, heteronormativity, imperialism, and militarism. 

And so, what are we going to do about this?

We need to move beyond a ‘West is best’ mantra and genuinely embrace place-based perspectives. We have the oldest living Indigenous culture in the world whereby over 500 tribes co-existed for over 60,000 years, yet Indigenous and First Peoples diplomacy is rarely valued in our practice. Regionally, New Zealand has moved to a ‘Wellbeing Budget’ and has just appointed its first female Indigenous Foreign Minister

Put simply, there are different ways of doing things and young people are hungry for this. Without change at all levels, we risk our institutions and practices becoming places and processes of irreversible intergenerational theft rather than long term sustainability, equity and justice for all.  

This article was originally published by The Power to Persuade