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The election of Donald Trump as the 45th POTUSA has stemmed from our own apathy over what is undoubtedly an untenable situation. While some say to just ride it out, I say it’s time to get angry.
I feel sick.
It’s not the cold I’ve been battling for the last few days, nor the dodgy leftovers I washed down with a few glasses of wine last night. No. It’s the fact that the most qualified Presidential candidate in US history – who also happened to be the first female candidate ever – lost the election to a billionaire reality star with orange skin, a sickeningly backward worldview and tiny, pussy-grabbing hands. The fact of it – the cold, hard, terrifying fact of it – has literally sickened me to my very core.
I’m scared for the 22 million Americans who are about to lose their healthcare. I’m scared, not for the hundreds of thousands of women who had legal abortions in the last year but for the hundreds of thousands more who might not be able to have them next year if Vice President-elect Mike Pence makes good on his promise to send abortion back “to the ash heap of history”, along with defunding a number of critical services provided by Planned Parenthood, as he has vowed to do.
I’m scared for the LGBT community who have fought so hard and so long for equality under law and now face a congress, and a potential supreme court, that does not see them as equal. I’m scared for the American-born children of illegal immigrants and the foreign-born immigrants who have made America home who were already fighting a tough battle against discrimination as it was. I’m also scared for all the people who voted for Trump who will inevitably be let down by him – who will be worse off, not better.
And I’m scared for a world that seems more and more to give into fear, hate and panic. A world where some people think progress is a dirty word.
We can’t pretend this shit show hasn’t happened and we can’t pretend the ramifications aren’t serious.
But more than scared, I’m angry. I’m angry that once again, the best person in the room had to work twice as hard as everyone around her and still wound up behind, simply because of her gender. I can’t help but feel, as many women do, that Hillary Clinton’s defeat was a personal attack, one final smack around the ears to a smart and capable woman by a bully of a man who never respected her in the first place. I’m angry for the women who felt so strongly that Clinton was their champion, that she was someone who wouldn’t be silenced because of her sex but instead wore it as a badge of honour. And I’m angry that it was never really acknowledged just how extraordinary Hillary was – not as a woman, but as a candidate. She was flawed, yes, but no more so than any consummate, lifelong politician who picks the battles they can win and gives ground where necessary. In other words, a leader who shows diplomacy and reason. She never got credit where credit was more than due for a lifetime of service; instead, she was forced to try and run a campaign of ideas against a campaign of ignorance, egged on by WikiLeaks, the FBI and even the Russian Government.
It was a tough road for anyone to walk, let alone the first woman ever to have a crack at the top job in a deeply misogynistic country.
If I was going through the five steps of grief I reckon I moved past denial into anger about 6.30pm yesterday, around the time Trump gave his victory speech. Having spent an entire election trying to divide and conquer, he then, on election night, promised to be the bloke for everyone, saying it was time to “bind the wounds of division”. Is he for real? Does he think this division – which he created – suddenly goes away now because he says so? It doesn’t work like that. And it shouldn’t. Some pundits have been calling for cohesion, for calmer heads to prevail, that with Brexit, Syria and now President Trump, 2016 has been a rough year and we all should sit back, take stock and try to make the best of it.
I disagree. The world is a mess and it is this mess that created Trump and allowed him to fester. We can’t pretend this shit show hasn’t happened and we can’t pretend the ramifications aren’t serious. Playing happy families now does nothing but further mock, humiliate and disenfranchise all those to whom he gave the same treatment throughout his campaign.
Exit polls show that Trump was elected largely by disaffected older white voters, male and female, following a trend seen in Britain with Brexit and at home with the rise of One Nation. Minorities voted overwhelmingly for Hillary. Young people voted for Hillary. The popular vote went to Hillary. More people believe in hope than hate. In that, we can take comfort. Those who voted for Trump are not the screaming majority they looked like at his campaign rallies: they’re a shrinking voice, fast losing relevance in a world desperate for progress, and they’re bellowing for recognition on the way out.
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But make no mistake: though this is their dying breath, they’re determined to go out with a bang. They’re angry and they’re loud, but they’re not large. We can’t fight back with hope and happiness: we have to get angry that they exist in the first place. And we have to outnumber them, by getting angrier and louder. What is perhaps most telling is that half the US didn’t even bother to show up to vote. More people are apathetic than hateful. At the same time, nothing makes hate spread faster than when people see it and do nothing.
To be completely honest, I don’t believe all who voted for Trump are hateful and this is not an attack on them, on the hard-working Americans who are doing it genuinely tough and truly believe the system is broken and that Trump will #MAGA. The system is broken and change is necessary. But change at any cost isn’t the answer. When that change will ricochet in so many dangerous ways and destroy so many lives, it can’t be the answer.
And this is not even a tribute to Clinton, despite the fact that I believe she has been sorely wronged and would have been a good, if not a great, President.
This is a call to arms to the apathetic.
Trump did not run and was not elected on a platform of kindness, fairness or decency. He ran on a platform of hate and was elected on a platform of fear and anger. So let’s treat him thusly. Forget the final steps of bargaining, depression and finally acceptance: I don’t think I’ll ever get to acceptance. And frankly, I don’t think we should. We should never accept that this is the way our world is. We should get angry and stay angry. We should never accept that this much hate and intolerance and fear can exist in what is meant to be a civilised society. And while we must, eventually, accept that Trump is the President, we don’t have to accept that his worldview is healthy and productive, or that it represents the majority. It doesn’t. And everyone who agrees needs to stand up every day and say so in actions as well as words.
And only once we’ve sent these terrified, fear-mongering, hypocritical, bigoted morons safely back to the dark ages where they belong should we ever kick back, relax and put our feet up.