This was supposed to be an optimistic post. I was going to try to reassure you that all will be okay even though Donald Trump has just been voted into the White House in the United States presidential elections. I have been trying to reassure myself.
I woke at 5:40am GMT on Wednesday 9 November. Trump’s victory was certain, if not secured, and I felt sick. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. I still do.
Since then, I have been trying to reassure myself and everyone that I speak to that all will be okay, that he cannot achieve his promises, that his words were just hollow lies:
“He can’t build a 2000 mile long wall along the Mexican border in 4 years, it has taken them a year to build a cycle path on the road outside my flat.” I quipped.
“Trump is after all a politician and we can rely on politicians to promise one thing, then deliver something else entirely.” I said flippantly.
“Don’t worry, Trump, will be reliant on the civil service, and if there is one truth about any civil service it is that it can’t do anything quickly” I joked.
But, I have been kidding myself…deliberately. I have been trying to ignore the truth, to hide from reality in some vain hope that this is all just a bad dream and will go away.
During his campaign Trump promised to …
- …lock up his opponent;
- …go after the women who claimed he sexually assaulted them;
- …slash taxes;
- …abolish Obamacare;
- …scrap environmental legislation;
- …deport all illegal immigrants.
We can debate whether Trump will actually be able to do all of these things. We can question whether he’ll even attempt half of them. But we are missing the point. By focussing on what Trump may or may not deliver during his Presidency, we are turning a blind eye to the fact that Trump has won an election with overt lies, sexism, racism, misogyny and bullying. We are turning a blind eye to the xenophobia and intolerance that Trump has encouraged.
We have seen the triumph of a man who consistently smears the lives of muslims.
We have seen the election of a President who is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
We have seen that liars are victorious.
We have seen that bullies do in fact win.
We have seen that women are objects to be looked at, groped, objectified and used for a man’s sexual gratification.
We have seen the triumph of a man who used the national stage to defend his sexual prowess.
We have seen that racism is not just supported but celebrated.
Most troubling, if it can get worse, is that after the election we’ve seen Trump’s victory give a mandate for free and uninhibited violence and racism. In the same way that post Brexit in the UK, we saw Polish shops vandalised, we saw mosques graffitied, we saw open abuse of muslims on public transport. In the US, Black and muslim students have been threatened and graffiti says “Trump, whites only, white America”.
How do we teach our children that everybody is equal, that difference should be embraced and celebrated, that justice will be victorious when Trump is now the most powerful man in the world?
Trump may not carry through on his promises, in fact I would bet that he doesn’t even attempt most of them, but this doesn’t make the Trump phenomenon okay. We are at the beginning of a new era of global intolerance and isolationism.
Do not ignore this. Do not try to put it out of your mind. Do not try to reassure yourself that all will be okay. If we ignore this then Trump will become the new norm.
This is democracy and sometimes democracy has an ugly face.
P.S. Leonard Cohen, and it isn’t the first time I have written about Leonard Cohen on this blog, died this week. You can listen to some sublime poetry by Leonard Cohen, THE master of baritone melody, singing about democracy in the USA, here: