Pauline Hanson has gone to great lengths to cast herself as Australia’s Donald Trump – a straight talking populist witha knack for dominating the headlines. One Nation’s abysmal result in Western Australia proves otherwise. Pauline may spew the same rhetorical bile as Trump, but she is not the same beast.
Hanson’s lack of knowledge is too great to make her a serious contender in politics. Whereas Trump plays a role, Hanson plays the sucker, disconnected from the vast majority of Australians who find her views abhorrent and counterproductive.
Her only successes in life are short-lived political ones. She has no professional career to speak of. Unlike major party politicians, she has no party institutional structure to fill in the gaping holes in her political knowledge.
Her public speaking skills are woeful (and not, as some suggest, in an endearing way) and her policies ill-informed and harmful to the very people she claims to represent.
Trump tests his rhetoric through Twitter and campaign rallies, testing which messages get the best response before strategically deploying a carefully crafted line to the media. His thought process may appear chaotic, but his interventions into the mainstream media are strategically timed to his advantage.
Hanson, however, has political Tourette’s. Consider her entertainment of anti-vaccines conspiracy theories in the last week of the WA state campaign – an embarrassing distraction for no discernible purpose, a distraction only from her own campaign.
Most damning for Hanson’s long-term prospects, though, is her weak leadership. She has already lost a senator – out of only three – from her own party, and not before a bitter public spat. Her deal with the WA Liberals was plain dumb: You can’t be an anti-establishment candidate if you get in bed with the establishment. Trump’s internal leadership appears Churchillian in comparison.
Make no mistake: Hanson is not Trump. Be it through voter apathy or internal destruction, One Nation under Hanson will not approach anything near the success of nationalistic political movements overseas. For that reason, she should stick with One Nation for as long as possible, lest there be a more competent xenophobe in her wake.