Soooo . . . . The Americans decided to elect an arrogant, ignorant, uneducated, inexperienced racist, misogynistic lunatic to the highest office in the world, and they also brought along to accelerate the destruction of the world control of both congress and the senate. It is also very likely (dare I say inevitable?) that they are also going to hand over the Supreme Court. Goodbye Roe vs. Wade, goodbye any hope of overturning Citizens United. Cross off the idea of getting any substance reinstated to the Voting Rights Bill. The rest of the world looks on aghast this morning. Hillary Clinton might not have shattered the glass ceiling, but it still feels as though we’ve been hit by shrapnel.
One question: why?
One answer: Because Americans are nihilists.
It is not just the fact that Trump is inexperienced. Arguments could (and have) been made that President Obama was inexperienced. Here in Canada, Justin Trudeau was far from a career politician when we elected his Liberal party to power (another vote for change). This is not just about inexperience, though. President Obama was right when he questioned why they would want to elect someone with no public service experience to such a position of power. Change merely for the sake of change is dangerous and naive – especially when the change is to someone who is violently unstable, vengeful, easily provoked and will have access to the most powerful military, and the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. This was indeed a referendum on Obama’s legacy, on meritocracy and sadly it empowered the Republican base of angry, racist, misogynistic white men to get out and vote.
Some say the election was about the economy – the loss of factory jobs that paid well, to Walmart jobs which do not. We could scream ourselves hoarse how Americans (or their fathers before them) did this to themselves, but what good would that do? Facts don’t penetrate that Fox News filled bubble. The people protesting the establishment as represented by Hillary Clinton (and the 16 other Republican competitors to Trump) should have to be strapped to a chair and force fed a history lesson. Factories were leaving the US before the 1980’s, but Reagan’s deregulation of Wall Street allowed them to accelerate their exodus to markets with cheaper labor. This deregulation also led riskier behavior and a boom/bust bubble that brought on Black Monday and then even more frighteningly, led to the 2008 financial crisis. With the wave that Obama rode in on, they were able to put some training wheels back on the economic bike, but now taking them off, they (the establishment Republicans) have allowed that bike to crash into a hate-fueled tree that is going to explode and engulf all of us In flames.
Some pundits say this was an election filled with fear, and they would be correct. Fear begets hatred and there was plenty of that to go around. Trump came out swinging – calling Mexicans rapists (takes one to know one, I guess?), that he would ban – and even deport – all Muslims, that it was a criminal offense to get an abortion, that he would ‘bomb the shit’ out of ISIS, that Senator John McCain, a prisoner of war, was not a war hero, that he would jail Hillary Clinton, riling up his base to potentially assassinate her, innumerable attacks on the media, and so forth. And he’s always got the ‘greatest’ plan, or ‘the greatest temperament’. No specifics ever, but he assures us that it will all be great. Yeah, a great, steaming pile of –
I am afraid now, as I write this. I am not an American, I don’t live in America. I do, however, live less than 200 miles from an American border. If the US gets attacked, either from within or outside of the country, that affects my country, too. And even if Trump doesn’t decide to nuke some country in retaliation for some insulting tweet from Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, there are still vastly entangled international issues that he just doesn’t understand. NATO, NAFTA, North Korea, Russia, ISIS, Al Qaeda, these are all in play in a way that is neither good nor safe.
In a society where Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social media sites have become people’s main source of news coverage, it is hardly surprising that so many Americans are dumber than a post about policy issues. They don’t get TPP, or the intricacies of polling, or that immigration from Mexico is down, not up, OK, this lack of knowledge is in keeping with their character, so I should not be surprised. The one thing that overshadows all other ignorance over policy, is the treatment of women. And not just the rhetoric of calling them fat, or disgusting, or saying that they might be menstruating. There have been a dozen or so women who have come forward saying that he groped them. He is on tape in multiple places, verifying this behavior. Who’s the rapist now, you misogynistic prick? AND YET WOMEN STILL VOTED FOR HIM. WHAT. THE. FUCK? Hillary Clinton might be a little right of center for my taste, but she would not have blown up the world.
Each Republican president over the last thirty years has had their terrible military fault, and each has got worse and worse. Reagan had Iran Contra. Bush Sr. had the war in Iraq (though with allied support at least). Bush Jr was led in total by Dick Cheney, and together they used a national tragedy, and false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to enter Iraq, to destabilize the world and bring about ISIS. Each successive incarnation of Republican has made the world less safe, more war-torn, and more prone to terrorism. One can hope that Trump’s campaign was all rhetoric and a cooler head will prevail now, but past is not prologue here. If we (that is the world) can make it out of this presidency with some of our retirement savings, our limbs, and our sanity intact, it will be a damned miracle.
Elections have consequences, and we have not yet even seen the least disastrous of them.
So not only might this election bring us the consequence of a third world war, especially if the Republicans in the house and senate hand over a blank cheque to their Commander in Chief, but we’ve set back the women’s movement, and the Civil Rights movement by seventy years. Nice going.
Bill Maher was right when he said that Hollywood’s obsession with dystopian stories was going to come back and bite us in the ass. And I say us, because this Global Village is real and what affects one country absolutely affects its neighbors.
I have to disagree with Billy Joel here and say, you sure fucking did start the fire this time.