Donald Trump is a great man.
He has been elected, so he must be a great man.
We believe in Democracy. We believe in electing our leaders and building strong governments. We believe that, ultimately, the popular vote will be the right vote. We believe in things so long as they aren’t inconvenient to us, we believe in truth, so long as it is our truth, and we believe in the Other. Imagine Susan B. Anthony dreaming of a day when women could vote, imagine the first African-American President humbly looking back on the gaping wound of America’s history from where he is now, and imagine raising children in a world where kindness, accountability and conscience have been deemed unimportant. We shall no longer be nations of minorities, we shall no longer be nations of many meanings, and we shall no longer be ‘weak’ and politically correct. We shall be tough, we will build walls, we will bring swift justice upon people who are different, whose only crime is to disagree.
But Donald Trump is a great and wise man.
Globalisation has brought everything forward in jarring detail, and our ability to comprehend all the conflicting different realities is limited. We are frightened because we do not know. Something has gone terribly, terribly wrong, but we do not know why or how. So we react in archaic ways in a frantic effort to go back to a world where everything was simpler. We cannot go back. You cannot make America great again. There is no ‘great’; we are but a collection of mistakes and we live our lives and push our civilisation forward by muddling through. We do not know anything. Confronting that fact and recognising that diversity and the need to respect other opinions and other humans is not weak, but bravery indeed.
We have been exposed too soon to the whole world, we don’t know where to look or what to believe because the world is not an easy place to live in. Life is not easy. It is convoluted, complicated and obeys no rules. We feel as if we are losing our place in the world, we feel as if all those heroes of our pasts, those bastions of the norm, have been lost. But there are heroes among the seaweed and diamonds in the dark, and the ‘other’ is no longer the other, they are one of us. Throughout the history of the world the Other, the women, the LGBT community, and people of other races have struggled for their rights; the right to vote, the right to work, the right to love and marry, and now, with the Black Lives Matter movement, the right to breathe. The temptation to turn towards an out-dated brand of fire and brimstone populism for answers is shockingly powerful, as we have just witnessed, but this kind of change backed by hateful rhetoric has always been the dark augury of horrific authoritarian regimes. We are capable of great and remarkable feats of bravery and sacrifice, we are an extraordinary race which builds its own realities. We have fought, over and over, for what is right and fair. Why have we suddenly forgotten the lessons of history? We have sunk through the rifts of partisanship so that we no longer know anything to be true, and the only things visible are fierce and irreconcilable divisions. Our anger and discontent has seeped out of us in a black, foul smelling mass and has erected a steel tipped icon of populist anger and rage.
The uncertainty and fear caused by the shock of this American election will have unprecedented and far-reaching changes, the disregard for facts portended by the Brexit has culminated into embracing a reactionary charlatan who cares only to win, and who has demonstrated his contempt for everyone, from the LGBT community to women to the disabled. This election has been a repulsive feat which has disowned the Presidency of the nation’s first African-American and all the efforts of the women and men of whatever race or sexuality who helped build the country for everyone. That Secretary Clinton, the most qualified candidate for President in the history of the election, should lose to a man who boasts about evading taxes is despicable and has confirmed a worrying undercurrent of misogyny and deep distrust of women and minorities in American society.
This is us. This is the mirror. This is the spectacle of politics. This is show business, and this is sensationalism – facts and truth are fast becoming subjective and easily discarded. This is the age of the internet where people hurl racial and sexist abuses at each other under the garb of anonymity, where common decency is laughed at, and where opinions are increasingly divided and retreat further and further into extreme corners. Now is the test of our times, and we have a responsibility to uphold equality and tolerance and everything that the voiceless and the underrepresented deserve. That a man who so blatantly espouses the misogyny, racism, xenophobia and hatred practiced by dogmatic bigots should be elected is a shameful and resounding warning. We were supposed to be smart about this, but we like being right too much. We like putting the other side down too much. They’re backward bigots, they’re weak liberals – we love disdain and feeling superior. This is the cruel, contradictory truth – that even as we despise President Trump, we have helped create him.
This is happening, and we will not give in to it, however strong our divisions we must bridge them now and stand united. We must uphold the things we stand for, we must ready ourselves to be unafraid, and we must stand by our beliefs. Be ready to be principled, be ready to be virtuous, and be ready to be everything Donald Trump is not.