Firstly, sorry i’ve been MIA. My finals took so much out of me and I’ve been a zombie for the past three weeks.
Also, this post is controversial. If you don’t want to read about the US election, my view of Trump and his campaign and things surrounding America, then I suggest you don’t read this.
Since the result of the presidential election was announced last Wednesday (for all of us in Australia), I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. A LOT of thinking.
At first, it was disappointment and anger at the outcome. I was stunned. All around me, global stock markets were plummeting like my trust and faith in the world and in humanity. To think that one of the most important nations in the world could elect a businessman who’s gone bankrupt, who has no prior experience in politics and who was handed all his opportunities on a golden platter as their president was confounding. I had never found the American population more naïve.
But, I must confess. Hillary Clinton was not my first choice. I admire Hillary Clinton. Her eloquence, her prowess and her undebatable power and grace is something I believe all women should possess. But she wasn’t my first choice as candidate for the democrats. And not because I’m a woman hater and all that. I just preferred Bernie Sanders’ ideas and policies more. They resonated more with me. But I knew it came down to experience and the people. And Hillary Clinton had that edge because of her expansive political career. And at the outcome of the primaries, although I was more inclined to Bernie Sanders’ policies, Hillary Clinton had my support.
Hillary Clinton, whether one hates or loves her, commands the presence of her audiences. She is tactical and graceful and gets down to business. And for that, I wholeheartedly believed she had the expertise to become president.
And then the fate of America was sealed after Ohio, North Carolina and Florida gave their support to Mr Trump. America’s fate was in the hands of the GOP. The Republicans. After an eight year stretch under potentially the world’s most loved president, the tides have once against changed and America is now under the governance of the Republicans.
I think now, my emotions are more fear and curiousity. I still vehemently stand by the fact that I hope America is ready to deal with the ramifications of its actions. Isolationism doesn’t work anymore, and industries can’t just be brought back into a country because as much as one can hope and pray, globalisation has evolved too much. And I still stand by my judgement of Australia in this whole political saga. I hope we choose the right side to stay on in the imminent trade war looming. We have more at stake than the acceptance of one nation. And after Brexit, we need to be more careful then ever when choosing who we side with.
But fear still resonates with me. I live in Australia. But I’m still terrified. And I can only imagine how American people who are “different to the norm” to generalise a large group of people, must be feeling. In a nation like America, racism and bigotry has always been rampant. You can choose any period in America’s history and you will find racism and/or bigotry. It’s entwined into America’s discourse as a nation.
To give a comparison, the thing that terrifies me, is that people in America act out on what they believe in, no matter how controversial or misaligned with the rest of the world. With Mr Trump’s election as the next US president, individuals who are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted and narrow minded, have an outlet to act out upon their thoughts and beliefs, because they have a leader, who for the last twelve months, repeated the same rhetoric these individuals needed as a confirmation to start acting on their beliefs.
Women have been assaulted in public spaces because men “grabbed them by the pussy”. Latino and Hispanic individuals have been singled out and bullied, being told that they’re going to be deported home. And this sort of behaviour, this bullying, has been in kindergarten children. Children who are five or six, have been heard repeating this sort of horrific rhetoric.
Women who believe in the Muslim faith have been assaulted, verbally and physically abused. They’ve been ambushed and men shouting profanities and pro – Trump slogans have tried and sometimes succeeded in ripping their hijabs off. African Americans have been told to go sit at the back of the bus where they belong. Gays and those who identify with the LGBTIQA community live in constant fear because amongst the highest ranks of the Republican party is a belief that LGBTIQA individuals can be subjected to shock therapy to turn them straight again.
I am constantly afraid that something will happen to my family in America. It’s scary enough to know someone who was targeted by this sort of racist outcry. But I fear for my cousins and uncles and aunts who are still in America. And even as legal citizens there, they said themselves, they’ve never felt more displaced from society.
And Mr Trump isn’t even president yet.
At the heart of his rise to power is a call to nationalism. The rise of nationalist views and nationalism as a whole has been witnessed throughout 2016. With a slew of terrorist attacks and perhaps more significant, Brexit, the global community is becoming more united and more polarised under the guise of a nationalist mindset.
During his election campaign, Trump utilised the one thing he knew would get him votes – a call to nationalist pride. More specifically, white nationalism.
White nationalism, defined generally, is an ideology attached to the dreams and outlooks of a wholly white nation. White nationalism is an ideology that promotes the racial definition of a nation. And the support for white nationalism and as an extension, white supremacy, leads to violence and social insecurity or instability.
While Trump couldn’t come outright and proclaim he wanted a white America, his whole election rhetoric supported white nationalism. We’ll get rid of immigrants. Build a wall between us and Mexico. Deport the Muslims. Stop Muslims from entering and settling into America. Get our jobs back from India and China. Our president is actually from Kenya. Send the blacks back to where they came from.
Within these highly blasé statements is that poignant banner of white nationalism. Everything Trump advocated for hit home with white nationalists in America – the percentage of the American population that is Christian, primarily lives in the Bible Belt, and is above the age of 40.
Trump was quick to define his prototype American. Like many leaders in history, he too has a view of how the average American should be. And in that prototype, there are three key features – white, of a Judo-Christian faith and born in the US.
And the scary thing is, that Trump isn’t the first leader to display nationalistic outlooks in his campaign. It’s a terrifying reality, because the repetition of his belief that Muslims, Mexicans, Hispanics, Latinos, African Americans, Indians, Chinese and all other races and ethnicities that fit into the immigrant/job stealing category are these dangerous invaders who have to be feared.
And his rhetoric resonated with so many Americans who want the good old days – the days where the whites overpowered and the others listened in submission.
Trump and Brexit used very similar ways of appealing to their audiences. They tapped into the hyperbolised fear of POC individuals. They tapped planted fears in the minds of voters. And Americans listened.
To side track a little, while I was in South Africa, we befriended an American couple while travelling through the Eastern Cape. And one night, while we sat and enjoyed the sunset with incredible cheese platters and glasses of South Africa’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon (it was as magical as it sounds), we got onto the topic of media discretion and global knowledge. As an Australian, I have been brought up to be aware of what goes on in the world. I was taught about global and national history from the age of eight. Our media coverage expands to all corners of the world. We’re entwined what goes on internationally. But the American couple told us that it’s a very different story in America. Everything is so America-centric. Their media covers home base and rarely anything else unless it impacts America as well. Schools aren’t taught about the world at large.
And looking back on that intriguing conversation, I think that’s one of the root causes of why Trump won the election. Maybe I could be exaggerating. But Americans are so caught up with themselves that sometimes they fail to see what really goes on. Trump used Brexit’s rhetoric and people blindly followed. But if you really look at what happened post Brexit and what has happened in the world since Brexit, you can see that it was a campaign with all talk and no action. In fact, Brexit has been detrimental for Britain.
America from the outside is so wrapped up in this White, Christian, US born fantasy and it’s terrifying.
What’s also terrifying is the fact that America just elected a sexist, racist, homophobic bigot who has come outright and denounced the rights of women. What’s even more terrifying is that women (who are white) are so keen on holding onto their nationalist power, that they voted for a man who doesn’t believe in their equal rights.
So what now?
I think it comes as a relief to many that although the Republicans do hold all houses in power, Trump actually going through with even half of his ludicrous promises will spell the end of America as we know it.
I hope Americans can deal with the ramifications of their actions. Protesting won’t do shit. Complaining won’t do much either. If you are unhappy with the results of the election and you didn’t vote, it’s on you. If you’re unhappy with the results and you did vote, get out there and throw yourself behind causes and societies and campaigns that you believe will better a nation with no stable healthcare that’s on a steady path of decline.
Yes, the result is unfavourable. And 2016 will go down in history as one of the darkest and wackiest years, but what can you do?
Lets hope that Australia sides with the right teams in the imminent disasters that are going to occur globally. Lets hope society doesn’t collapse. And honestly, empower yourself if you aren’t happy with the result.
Yes looking into America, the situation seems scary. And for people who don’t fit the prototype American, it’s a time where you will have to be cautious. But you can get through it. You aren’t alone in this battle. The rational world is also behind you.