“You perceive the force of a word. He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense… Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.”
The last time I felt this way was on September 11, 2001.
A heavy feeling in my heart. Disharmony between body, mind and soul that manifested itself as physical illness. A wish to wake up. Distractions helped momentarily, but were interrupted by a reminder of the world we live in and a feeling that something vital has been lost, unrecoverable. Sorrow and pain, sadness. Not about policies, economics, planning, or anything like that. But at humanity; that a mean, woman-hating, xenophobic and intolerant ogre would represent the best of democracy and western values.
In the days following the election I had distractions that let me not feel and kept me busy. I evaded the feelings for a few days, and, as in the past, may have done so indefinitely. Simply piling my plate with other things to do, study, work on, and so on. But with some time on Friday 11/11, listening to a newly discovered song that I have never given the time to listen to, Prince’s Purple Rain, I cried and felt, and I brought my emotions to the pen.
“I want to move them out, and we’re going to move them back in and let them be legal, but they have to be in here legally.”
This is important. I am not American, but America matters to me. I am also white, relatively privileged and not in touch with the pain or hardship that Trump supporters feel. But, I do love the USA and I always have. I love the idyll of what the USA represents: freedom, democracy, success, progress. And I know it isn’t representative of reality. The American dream is inspiring, where each person has an equal opportunity to succeed with their idea, hard work and initiative; not their background, gender, skin colour, privilege, wealth or status. But it is a dream – not real.
This mythology of the USA is alluring; independence from royal oppression; progress after struggles; leadership after isolationism; constant innovation in manufacturing, invention, computers, popular culture, the arts, and social equality. I’m also not naive, and although I look to America’s positives and don’t confront the reality, because the idyll is so enchanting, I know that the United States has problems.
In school, I had US flags on my wall, memorabilia on my pencil case, cherished our family holidays to the USA, and loved all the American sitcoms. When 9/11 happened, I cried, I couldn’t sleep, and I wore a US pin. I grew up in an international school system studying American history, taught by American expatriates, and being exposed to Americans who loved their country and displayed their feelings through Halloween decorations, Christmas celebrations and Thanksgiving welcomes. I fell in love with the USA, with those aspects that I chose to believe in: her openness, her positivity, her leadership in believing the world could be a better place, her sometimes reluctant leadership that was bestowed upon her, her enthusiasm, her ‘can-do’ spirit, her respect for her down and out and her military members.
“I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.”
The side I didn’t know how to deal with was her tired, her poor, her sick, her homeless, her oppressed. I believed, naively, that the lamp of Lady Liberty would help these wretched refuse, because that’s what America did. I knew these were the bad parts of the greatest democracy, but I believed they would work out in the longer term, through ongoing progress and ever-rising living standards for everyone.
“Can you imagine that, the face of our next next president? I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”
‘Yes We Can’ gave hope after a dark period of terrorism, war, and and a growing divide between rich and poor, haves and have-nots. Obama wasn’t perfect, people living under his government had legitimate complaints. But, as a figurehead of democracy and of the United States’ potential and nostalgia as a land of the free, and of the American Dream, he was the embodiment. Obama spoke of tolerance, patience, growth, shared prosperity, equality. He spoke to my values. He cared, he was fair, he was funny, he made difficult leadership decisions and they weighed on him, but he was also a human who laughed, cried, joked and showed happiness and sadness.
Hillary wasn’t perfect, but I believed that in leadership she would seal and continue Barack’s legacy of fairness, equality, tolerance and progress. His and her policies generally aligned with mine, particularly from a social and societal front. But I also understand the Republican agenda from a commercial and economic front. Both parties are neither here nor there for me. My problem with Trump is his meanness and divisiveness.
“All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”
Trump’s campaign was built on hatred, isolationism, and regression. He made noise, he interrupted, he insulted, he lied blatantly, he didn’t do his research, he was ignorant and he wouldn’t listen to a different opinion than his own. Trump won an election – declaring that he wouldn’t accept an electoral loss – on promises to:
- build a wall to keep out Mexicans,
- to ban inbound Muslims,
- to forcefully deport undocumented immigrants,
- to restrict women’s rights to abortion services,
- to reintroduce torture and waterboarding,
- to restrict freedom of expression.
Among other unconstitutional, inhumane, and morally wrong actions. This list of oppression and hatred and rhetoric continues ad nauseam, without a clear thread except for feeding from and fuelling angry and disillusioned public sentiment. There are, of course, countless retorts for Hillary’s conduct, her untrustworthiness, and her disengagement with voters. But that’s not my point. Trump is a bad person, the worst reflection of humanity and one that isn’t bright, progressive or open and tolerant. His presidency will hurt civilisation.
“I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”
It’s easy to listen to and believe that ‘things will be ok,’ ‘he’ll fill the role,’ and worry less. But two things rise from the pit of my stomach. The first is that during Obama’s time in office, Trump bullied, lied, bigoted and insulted his agenda against the President of the United States. From the ‘birther’ issue to the not-so-subtle racism and the spillover against Hillary, immigrants, trade and Mexicans; he rallied his supporters into febrility. Should Democrats and those against Trump do the same? To block every Trump proposition and Republican agenda? Not against his character, except where it impacts his ability to lead inclusively, but against his unfair and regressive positions. I don’t agree that our own Australian government should be fawning over a Trump government. We mustn’t forget the platform of disgust that he built his presidential foundation on, and reset the clock to his speech after election victory. His campaign and his character is toxic and evil.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”
This ties in to my stronger feeling of revulsion against Donald Trump. Grabbing women by the pussy, sexual assault claims, proud tax evasion, bullying behaviour, climate change denial, aggression, oppression of free speech and media. These aren’t political values or economic policies; these are values I hold dear to my heart and being. Donald Trump, the soon-to-be leader of a great country, juxtaposes completely against the United States that I love and respect. Trump hurts. By reaching the office the way he has, on the backs, reputations and character assassination of others; he has torn some of my beliefs and values away. And that hurts.
It makes me sad, it makes me want to hold my loved ones close. To look for innocence in dogs, animals, people playing, songs, people just living and enjoying themselves. It was the same as I did after 9/11. People haven’t lost their lives, but part of our humanity and goodwill has been cleaved away with this electoral outcome. Humanity like that can’t be recovered. It speaks of a collective lack of action and feeling for the oppressed, for immigrants, for women, for inequality.
“I know more about ISIS than the generals do.”
Hillary wasn’t ideal, she was flawed, but she represented good. She mightn’t have been ‘good,’ and she wasn’t beyond reproach, but she wasn’t mean or nasty; regardless of any tie-ins with corporations or banks, she genuinely wanted liberty and justice for all. That is the difference between the United States I love and Trumpland. What worries me most isn’t the rhetoric or the campaign of hatred that led to leadership; it’s what is next. Trump’s campaign narrative has been written from a general public feeling of fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and discrimination. As a demagogue, he’s crafted that rhetoric and tapped into a disillusioned and forgotten constituency. But he’s channelling it as a negative energy, against victims and also to fuel his own ego. These channels on their own are awful, but together they are ominous. Each requires increasing intensity to fuel the hate-fires and egocentricism within.
So what is my call to action, rather than just a written tirade? Not the negative campaign that was waged by Trump’s supporters against Obama and his government for two terms. Just an ongoing reminder and vigilance against the hate-filled platform which lifted Trump to victory. Anything formed on such a narcissistic and divisive foundation is unstable and built for ill reason. If Trump unites America and propels her to new united glories, I will happily eat my words and be proven wrong, because the outcome is great. But until then, I will be mindful and reminding of the poisonous campaign that delivered him the presidency. To forget and dismiss the foundations and promises of his election is to let in hate and to allow it to manifest in worse forms; to give it more victims. Standing up to it is easier now, it will only be harder to stop the stronger and longer it gestates.
“I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want. Grab them by the pussy.”