To describe last week’s American presidential election as interesting is an understatement.
As a Canadian watching all of this unfold after having spent a number of days in Mexico, this all seems surreal to me. Those who exercised their right to vote had their say and Donald Trump won — a person with no political background whatsoever and a string of bankruptcies as part of his business resumé.
The lack of a political resumé doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is how he became president-elect — making voters go against their own best interests by instilling fear and loathing through xenophobia and misogyny. Once you instill fear into a group of people, nothing else matters to them. Detailed economic, environmental, health care, and infrastructure policies don’t matter. All that is lost under the noisy and persistent rattling of fear, unless you ignore the racist rhetoric and focus on the what the candidate’s position is on the economy et al.
I know not everyone who voted for Trump are racists. They voted because after years of governing by the Democrats, they didn’t see an improvement in their way of life or it was made worse via job losses resulting from the country’s participation in the global markets. They voted for him on his campaign promises that rang true to them. They wanted something different. They had enough of the Democrats. They didn’t want another Clinton in the White House.
Some supporters have downplayed his incendiary remarks about his perception of women and anybody who didn’t have white skin. But downplaying those remarks gives the impression of condoning racism and misogyny. Rightly or wrongly, that is the perception and it’s a tough cross to bear.
While I can understand they preferred Trump’s stance on the economy et al., I don’t know how they can brush aside the racist and misogynistic remarks he has made since he threw his hat into the political ring. There are people who say that was all talk and that will change once he occupies the Oval Office. He will be more presidential. That is either naivety or denial talking.
I am a person who believes that character supersedes anything a person may bring to a job. If I was American, I would have never voted for Trump. It would have went against everything I fundamentally believe in. I cannot believe there are that many willing to overlook Trump’s character. He is normalizing racism. He is normalizing misogyny. He is normalizing the idea that a white person is fundamentally better and more entitled than a non-white. In the hierarchy of Trump’s version of humanity, white man is top dog.
In some cultures, white is a colour associated with death. Don’t even get me started with the KKK.
By ignoring the damage that will be done with the rise of racism and the inevitable pushback against women’s reproductive rights and the LGBTQ community, is it worth having Trump as president? Only those who voted for him can answer that.
For those who voted for Trump because of his economic platform and promises and not because of his racist rhetoric, you have to look out for your fellow human beings — the ones who will be targeted in hate crimes, the ones who will be yelled at, screamed at and told to go back from the country they originally came from. Normalizing hate is not a solution to anything. Hate only destroys including those who are doing the hating.
I’ve read and heard some of my American friends discuss on Facebook the fact they’ve had to unfriend people because of the election results. The people they had to unfriend had become verbally abusive in their defence of Trump, instead of having a real discussion about what comes next for the country. I’ve read some of the remarks. Not cool. Politics can be divisive and they have never been more divisive than this past presidential campaign/election.
Intelligent discourse can be had but maybe not right now. For a lot of people, a Trump presidency is a hard pill to swallow. There is still mourning and grieving over the results of the election. But there is also mobilization by those who are protesting the elections results. Protests, not riots. Not yet. Hopefully, it will never arrive to that.
For those protesting, I hope they actually voted as opposed to being a group of people who didn’t exercise their right to vote and just want to be shit disturbers. Which brings me to something I discovered in the last couple of days. Apparently, over 46% of eligible voters didn’t vote in the presidential election. So, in reality, only one-quarter of eligible voters gave Trump the presidency. Does that sound right to anyone? Was it apathy or protesting the fact they refuse to vote for either candidate? A good mix of both, I suspect.
Voter apathy isn’t confined to the United States. Any country where its citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, faces the problem of voter apathy. But this is all hindsight and analytical navel-gazing now… unless there is a way to use this information to fight apathy and get people to participate instead of having them do nothing because they believe the status quo will never change. Well, doing nothing and not caring could land you in a shitload of trouble you might not be able to handle. If that happens, please don’t play the victim. Every choice or non-choice, every decision or non-decision you make belongs to you regardless of the outcome.
I was speaking to someone from Apple support over the weekend. I was having an issue with my iPhone. Anyway, he was helping me sort something out and we got to talking and I discovered he was from Louisiana. He had a sweet Southern accent. He spoke about recently visiting his grandmother’s place out in the country which is located near a body of water and how beautiful and quiet everything was under the stars. The sounds of nature. It sounded beautiful.
Near the end of our conversation, knowing I was calling from Canada, he apologized for the events of the past week. He disclosed that he is non-white. I asked him how it was going. He said it was still business as usual. There was a slight tone of uncertainty in his voice. He probably didn’t know how to explain the election results to me when he was still trying to make sense of it himself. I wanted to reach out to him and give him a hug. I told him the world would be watching America closely.
He said if things started to get rougher than he could handle, he had relatives in Seattle and would move there. He wants to think better of his fellow Americans. But he also has to think about his own safety. He has to acknowledge the idea of people being more openly hostile to his presence in the community. He talked about visiting British Columbia if he moved to Seattle. I told him he would love visiting the province.
And I wished him well.