So maybe I’m naive. Maybe I don’t know enough about US politics.
I went to bed in a huff during the election count. Things were shifting in Florida, and reality began to dawn. A few hours later and it was over. Brexit +++ indeed.
I was shocked, and deeply shaken. Of course, it was always a possibility. My head knew it could happen, that it was more likely than I wanted to believe, but my spirit wasn’t ready for it. The fibre of my being refused to accept that misogyny, racism, xenophopia & ableism, so clearly expressed, could win. That people would choose to ally themselves with a vulgar bully. That that’s who they’d want to be their representative in chief.
As the day went on, breakdowns of the vote became available. My mind was boggled by the majority of white women who voted for Trump. Do they not believe they deserve better? Are they happy to be seen as objects for male pleasure only?
There was an interesting discussion on TV last night- the summary being that US voters didn’t take Trump literally (nobody believed he’d do what he said) but they did take him seriously (he speaks to us). Outside the US, observers took him literally (he thinks he’s going to build a blimmin wall) but not seriously (he’s a buffoon).
So perhaps if people didn’t believe he was going to deport Muslims, they thought it didn’t matter that he said he would… That’s a remarkable failure of empathy. An incredible thoughtlessness towards all the ‘others’.
Maybe that’s why 46.9% of those who could vote, didn’t. Maybe they thought that Trump was all mouth and not that dangerous because he wasn’t serious. Maybe they dislike Clinton so much for being still married to Bill/ open about her taxes/ good at her job/ whatever (I simplify of course, but most of the criticism of her I saw seemed to be because she’s good at being a politican rather than legitimate objections to her actual policies) that they just thought, “Nah, I can’t be bothered.”
Some people will have been sick, or unable to get to a polling station. But not nearly half the eligible population. Most of those will have decided not to vote, not even for the 3rd party candidates. It’s not like they didn’t know the election was on. There’s been at least 2 years to get ready, think about it, listen to the candidiates, mark the diary with *vote*.
Is it because they think their vote doesn’t matter? Is it that they don’t care about the world they live in? Before, Trump was supposed to be speaking to the disposessed (which I never understood), but it was the educated middle and upper classes who, predictably, voted for him in droves.
Are there 46.9% of the population so disconnected from the world that they didn’t see this election as important? That they didn’t know or care that a reality TV billionaire bully was going to terrify women, children, people of colour, LGBT people, those with disabilities and non Christians? And god help those at the intersections.
Trump isn’t one for hiding his light under a bushel. Since he entered the race, this election has been all about him. Every day, in every way, he affirmed the adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity. He said and did previously unacceptable things, and not enough people cared that these were unacceptable. They supported him or they did not oppose him. They may have been good people, but they did nothing.
And so, it’s all ok now. It’s ok to be a sexual predator. It’s ok to mock the disabled. It’s grand to talk about nasty women and bad hombres. No problem with threatening your opponents with violence or jail. It’s Trump world and the bully has won.
There is such a thing as society. There is love and goodness and support for others. We have to hold on tight to it, to nuture it and let it grow. I have surprised myself by using biblical language- fighting the good fight, being a light in the darkness, whatever you do to the least of my brothers etc- but that’s the power of poetry, oral tradition, and primary school. Others will have different touchstones they had thought long forgotten.
I struggled yesterday to find a way out of the fug. I wanted to have moved past disbelief and rage by the time Girl1 and Girl2 came home from school. I wanted to be able to articulate a way forward for us. I wasn’t quite there, but I was trying. Then we watched Clinton’s concession speech, and it was just what we needed. Grace, dignity, truth, hurt, power & resolution. She spoke to us all, even when defaulting to the bible. She spoke to us all, wearing suffragette colours. She spoke to us all, to comfort, support and motivate, while dealing with what must be personal devastation.
Hillary went high. We must too. We must reach out. We must engage. We must remember that politics is about people, because without people there is no chance of change or progress. We have to make a difference. We must participate.
Don’t pretend it has nothing to do with you. Don’t believe that your opinion doesn’t matter.Don’t believe that you are not worthy.
Don’t be the 46.9%. Believe in yourself.