Many of my American friends, and even some who aren’t, are venting their emotions on social media. Honestly, I was initially more emotionally affected by the results than I thought I would be, but my sober analytical side won out.
This isn’t my first election nor is it my first disappointment. Every election I’ve personally experienced is hyped up as the most important election ever and the message does start to wear thin. There’s often a sense of reassurance that it’s never as bad or as good as people think it will be.
And that’s probably going to be true. Obama wasn’t as good as people hoped. Trump won’t be as bad as people think. It is not the end of the world. I’m not going to be hyperbolic here. The system isn’t broken, but it has a lot of problems.
The fact that Trump is a fairly terrible person doesn’t bother me as much as it seems to offend most people. What bothers me is that he was made the voice of so many suffering people. All those uneducated white voters who supported him have real troubles and real concerns. And honestly, no one’s going to fix them, least of all him. He doesn’t represent the traditional Republican, he’s not a revolutionary; he’s a demagogue who changes his policy ideas to whatever gets the most attention and not even in the normal way of a politician. Normal politicians chase votes. He chases crowds. The comparison to Hitler is entirely unfitting because Hitler did what he believed in. He wrote a book in the 1920s and did exactly what he said he would do 10-20 years later.
So my problem with his success is that all those suffering people, insecure in their jobs and lives, terrified of where they see the country going, just got conned. And not even by a very good con-man.
American liberals have been doing mostly great work in being inclusive to minorities of all kinds, whether they be racial or religious, but tend to forget that American conservatives are also, well, American. You can’t just disregard people as “white trash” and think they’ll just die off. They have agency too, and they wanted to show that they still matter. It’s foolish to write them off.
So let’s start with the very real concerns. Republican majorities in basically all of Congress, with a Republican president who likely will have to cave in to a Republican cabinet, with a Supreme Court which will likely continue to be conservative… means that the Affordable Care Act, aka. Obamacare, will be repealed. This is something they’ve been trying to shoot down since before it began and it seems likely that, given the first opportunity, they’re going to cut off millions of people from the medication they need. This is a tragedy and it pains me to think of it.
Americans also tend to have heroic expectations of their presidents. It’s like they’re voting a damn Superhero. They want them to be family men, eloquent but also relatable, and seem to always want them to save the country. The irony is that the Executive branch, namely the President and their cabinet, doesn’t have that much influence on domestic issues. Congress does that. The president’s job is much more to do with foreign policy, and that is a tremendous worry.
There’s a backlash in America right now, from both extreme Right and extreme Left, against globalisation. It’s become popular to trash free trade deals. I find it ironic that people do their bitching from smartphones made relatively cheap and accessible by the global supply chain, but I digress. There have been winners and losers from globalisation, and the whole Western would could do a much better job spreading the benefits… but that doesn’t make it worth closing borders and trade. The costs are much higher than people seem to realise.
No, it would be a terrible thing to shut down NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership. It’s horribly selfish to just think of American jobs. The negotiations for the TPP have been taking place for years, and in the words of the South Korean president, you can’t just abandon it now because it’s unpopular at home. All those countries in Asia also had to sell these trade deals domestically. But, you know, Americans and international awareness don’t entirely coincide.
What most people seem to worry about though, is the idea of a victory of hate over love. I dislike this notion because it’s a gross oversimplification and, again, denigrates all those suffering rural voters to haters, racists and misogynists. That said, it still is a symbolic victory.
Now, I’m pretty damn sure they aren’t going to repeal gay marriage. Issues like this are a shitstorm nobody wants. What it does do, however, is legitimse the problematic people and their problematic views. Lots of people who supported Trump weren’t racists… but racists did support him. Just like after the Brexit vote, racists have had their views legitimised by victory. This means their voices and actions will be more open. It won’t just be YouTube comment sections anymore.
This doesn’t make discrimination legal though. It just makes it more likely to happen.
I’ve always felt that, in a rather “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” sense, the main job of the President, as far as the world is concerned, is actually just being the face of America. Whatever hard work they do behind the scenes, they are held responsible for everything during their term in office. Thanks Obama.
So in a way, Trump is representing America in a somewhat suitably perverse distortion of the American dream and, in that way, all the problems with that dream. He’s rich by none of his own efforts, has a supermodel trophy wife, and apparently gets away with everything. In that sense you can feel that the trappings have finally come away from how false the dream is.
All in all, I’d say that most things people are worried about, they shouldn’t. What they should do, if they’re American, is write their congressman and implore them not to repeal Obamacare. Millions of sick people are the first, and real, casualties. Everything else depends on how things go.