A former Brisbane Catholic school student returned to his hometown today with a claim that Australia’s political system would not necessarily follow the path of an American system that is preparing for Donald Trump’s campaign for a second presidential term.
Professor Simon Jackman, the CEO of the United States Studies Centre in Sydney, provided his insights into the American political landscape at the Assembly of Catholic Professionals lunch in Brisbane.
Professor Jackman recalled his time as a student at St Dympna’s School at Aspley, Sacred Heart School at Sandgate and St Patrick’s College at Shorncliffe and the impact that those days had on his life.
Professor Jackman was a professor of political science at Stanford University in the US before returning to Australia to take up his current post.
He said the differences between the compulsory voting system in Australia and America’s voluntary system presented a key difference between the countries.
“Imagine Australian politics without compulsory voting – politicians would be seen at school P&F meetings a lot more for instance. It would change things so much,” Prof Jackman said.
“Here, we get fined if we don’t vote. In the US, you have to mobilise people to vote.”
Prof Jackman said it was difficult to predict the next decade of politics as President Trump aims for re-election next year against a field that includes many Democrat hopefuls.
“The future belongs to the people who are getting out there and making it,” he said.
“That’s about the people who are willing to vote with their feet. What will enliven someone to make them vote? That’s the biggest question about American politics right now.”
Prof Jackman analysed the impact of voters of faith in Australia and the US, picking up on differences between those with religious beliefs in both countries.
He noted that race had become more of a factor in people’s intentions to vote over religious backgrounds.
But he noted that American Catholics tended to hold views more to the right of Australian Catholics.