The Australian Deputy Head of Mission to the United States, Ms Katrina Cooper, presented to a roundtable event on Wednesday 10 April 2019 to discuss the Australia-US alliance under President Donald Trump, as well as the recent developments in U.S. domestic politics.
Prior to her role as Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Washington, Cooper served as Australia’s Ambassador to Mexico (2008 – 2012) with non-resident accreditation to Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama. She has also served as the Counsellor in Port Moresby (2002 – 2005) and Second Secretary, Santiago de Chile (1995 – 1998).
Trump’s popularity vs. past Presidents
Public opinion polls indicate President Trump has a 33% approval rating, the lowest in comparison to past Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. However, in terms of Republican Party approval, President Trump is reaching 88% majority. This support from the Party is despite the highest cabinet turnover in American history, with three departures in his first year of Presidency followed by ten departures in his second year.
The evolving face of U.S. politics
Following the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections, the “Year of the Woman” has seen a sweeping surge of 36 new women enter the U.S. Congress. Today, there is now a record of 127 women in total (104 in the House and 25 in the Senate).
The evolving face of American politics has also seen a surge of narratives and messages being communicated through social media. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a key example that has shaped the U.S. domestic narrative through the power of social media. In her first term so far, she has over two million Twitter and Instagram followers respectively and over 500,000 Facebook followers. Through this, she has successfully used these social media channels to grab headlines and drive the conversation on issues such as climate change.
Australia’s global standing and alliance with the U.S.
Despite challenging times, the alliance between Australia and the United States remains strong. It is a historical connection, dating back to 100 years of mateship. Both countries have shared values, and similar threat perceptions, with Australia’s economic impact in the United States quite significant. Apart from the value of the U.S.-Australian investment relationship last year, which totalled more than $1 trillion dollars, Australia continues to make its mark globally. Australia remains the 6th
largest territory in the world, ranks 14th
when it comes to nominal GDP and according to the United Nations, Australia’s global contributions rank 13th