Waking up the morning of the election was honestly kind of confounding. And that’s coming from me, a non-American. I can’t even imagine what my American friends and family feel. Mere days ago they were happily sporting their “I voted” stickers, trying to keep optimistic in the midst of a fight for, essentially, their civil liberties.
But Trump’s win is only continuing a trend of scare-mongering and hate that has come to the rise recently. With right wing politicians taking control of governments in Europe, this is a trend that’s dangerous to the masses.
Here’s the thing though: a lot of people seem to be completely unaware of what exactly Trump’s victory could mean for minorities. Too many people have suggested that people’s fears are unwarranted. Even over-dramatic. As if having a bigot for president whose very promises have been rooted in prejudice doesn’t warrant fear. But more than that, you only have to look to the effects of Brexit to understand that these fears are very much precedented. There were reports of a 57 per cent rise in hate crime in the UK in the four days following Brexit. And the numbers haven’t decreased significantly since.
The parallels between Trump and Brexit are enormous. They are both rooted in essential identity politics. They’re both rooted in scapegoating the minorities, and spreading hateful rhetoric against minorities. “Make America great again,” said Donald Trump, and this sentiment is too similar to leave campaigners wanting to make their country great again, too. And who are the people that seem to be standing in their way? That’s right. Minorities.
This was an election that was rooted in racism and xenophobia. It was an election that was won by racist rhetoric. You only have to look to the statistics to figure that out. White voters make up 69% of the total vote. 58% of white voters voted for Trump. What’s even more disappointing is that far too many of these voters were educated. So no, this election wasn’t won out of ignorance. It was won out of blatant racism by the white populace. A lot of people have suggested that Trump’s win was not about supporting Trump, but rather about going against the establishment. But willing to support, and for a president, whose entire platform has been anti-immigrant, racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic is not practicality or a way to change the system. It’s complacency that you’re afforded because you will not be attacked by Trump’s policies, nor his supporters who feel validated by a president that shares their prejudiced views.
How do you tell people in this climate to stop fearing for their lives, when people in the UK are still fighting against the dangerous spike in hate crime? How do you tell them that their fear is unprecedented when the results of this vote is right in front them, staring them in the face?
But America isn’t the only nation that’s going to suffer because of this vote. This is a decision that is going to have massive global ramifications in the coming years. In Ireland, Trump’s presidency looks to have a major impact. Ireland is the basis for many US multimillionaire companies due to its low corporate taxes. However, Trump has already begrudged other countries stealing its jobs and has promised to slash its own corporation taxes in an attempt to bring big budget companies back to America. Considering these companies play a huge role in Ireland’s economy, our future isn’t looking too bright.
It’s funny to me because I’ve heard a lot of people suggest that Trump’s win means that “basically anybody can be president.” Except, I think Trump’s win tells us exactly the opposite. Trump isn’t just anybody. He’s an amalgamation of the racism and misogyny that his entire electoral campaign was based upon. His presidency wasn’t won because he’s just any man. It was won because he appealed to the deep-seated fears of those Americans who were afraid of minorities; who believed the hate that he spewed. He won because he’s a rich, white man, and because there are far too many in America who are okay with a bigot in the white house. So no, anybody can’t be president. You have to be of a certain class, race and breed of bigoted.
Since the results of the American presidential elections we have been bombarded with even more information and opinion pieces. The more I read and the more I talk to people, the more I realize just how little I understand about the American political system, poll predictions and statistics. We are bombarded with so much and I cannot help but feel overwhelmed, I wonder where to start from and what to believe in. I am not too sure if what seems to be is actually what is. When thinking along those lines, Brexit comes to mind as well as what has happened in Brazil with the Dilma Rousseff impeachment. No one I have spoken to believed that Brexit, the impeachment or Trump would happen but all of them did.
It is disturbing to see how conservative parties are using society’s fear and lack of education to their advantage. Trump openly advocates racism, sexism, homophobia and islamophobia for everyone to see. Him coming into presidency only emphasises what is laying underneath: a desperate need for a justifiable outlet of violence. With this result, hate crimes, sexism and sexual abuse can no longer be looked at as dismissively as they are right now.
It is sad that in order to challenge the current system the majority of people are willing to go backwards instead of forwards. It is heartbreaking to see how separate we are when we consider that we are all humans. Looking at all of this makes our world feel quite disconnected and senseless. It baffles me to think that in an era where we have the ability, unlike any other time in history, to be more connected through the use of technology, we aren’t. It is as if human evolution cannot keep up with technological advances.
In a conversation with a friend of mine she raised a question: “would we have so much hate if we looked at each other just for what we all are: humans?” I believe we wouldn’t have as much hate if we indeed looked at each other as humans and treated Earth, and people, kindly instead of going through life with this feeling of entitlement over it and over others. Shouldn’t we be working on improving the quality of life for everyone? And changing the system in a way that it is more inclusive and healthy instead of destructive?
Pondering Power and Entitlement
When I think of power, what comes to mind is the concept of one group (or individual) being put, or considered, above another. And that raises many issues, such as a sense of entitlement. What comes to mind are situations like domestic abuse, sexual violence and hate crimes. They all seem to come from the same medium, the same need to control; to be better than someone else, and from the entitlement learned from a young age through privileges and double standards. For a person (or a group) to feel in absolute power, someone else has to be powerless in contrast.
When we look at societies and humanity as a whole we see that same foundation laid. I see disconnection, exclusion, separation and entitlement of one group over another. How can we have any improvement in the system without first addressing what is really creating all of this displeasure: our mindset? I wonder if we had a realistic perception of ourselves as individuals and as part of an integrated humanity, would that change how one thinks and behaves when in a position of power?
When we look at equality it seems to be such an obvious and straightforward approach, but when we look at it based on that need for exclusivity and for power (the need to be above others in order to feel worthy) we can understand why equality cannot flourish with ease. I was having a discussion with another friend about that and she said the issue is that “certain people are so used to their privileges that equality would mean those privileges wouldn’t really apply to them anymore”. It made me wonder if, on a subconscious level, most of us, without even being aware, choose our privileges over equality. I think what makes a difference is the realization of that automatic choice and addressing it, versus resenting the increase in equality and decrease of one’s privilege.
While we continue to look at each other as ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ and ‘me’ better than ‘you,’ things are not going to progress much, we will remain very primitive and exclusive despite all the advancement in technology. We will continue to use it as a self-destructive means. We need to continue to advocate for more connection and integration, and not for more disconnection and hatred.
I guess any type of development goes through a ditch first. Thinking about an individual’s personal development for instance, you have to bring to the surface all the stuff you try so hard to ignore and deny before change can happen. Societies’ and humanity’s development are no different. It seems that in order to move on and progress, we first need to drop our masks and look at it for what it is. We are more selfish, self-centred, sexist, racist and destructive than we would like to admit.