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T for Trump: America’s Swan Song

T for Trump: America's Swan Song

Remember, remember the Eighth of November.

I know I do. It was 2 am on a Tuesday night, technically November 9, and I was slumped into my couch, drunk off whiskey. My face was twisted and scrunched up, tears welling, still hoping by some miracle that the numbers on the TV were wrong.

By 2:30 am the CNN banner proclaimed ‘Donald Trump wins.’ I frantically googled “US election results,” wondering if this was actually some nightmare dream sequence instead of reality. But I was awake, and it was true: Donald Trump won the 2016 US Electoral College. I called my mom in the middle of the night. I sobbed.

For a large pocket of Americans the win brought a sense of relief and vindication, but for the majority who do not identify as a white, Christian, heterosexual male it cast a dark shadow of legitimate fear. While white men certainly preferred Trump, white women are just as complicit and the blame lies at their well-manicured feet. A staggering 53% of college-educated white women voted for a racist, misogynistic narcissist. Memo to white women: we need to organize and do better.

For the rest of the people, the time elapsed since the election has been spent manoeuvering through the grieving process. The Women’s March on Washington and the sister marches that took place on all seven continents became the first post-election moment of catharsis. When it felt like the bad guys were winning, citizens around the world decided instead of conceding to the final stage of acceptance they would do the opposite and resist Trump.

“Make America Great Again” is a loaded slogan, and it can be interpreted as a euphemism for white supremacy. Some may argue that it means a time when the country was prosperous and a secure future could be built upon sheer hard work. That’s nice, but who specifically benefitted from the old system? The Obama administration was arguably the best it’s ever been in history for women, LGBTQ+, and people of colour. For the non-white male demographic, each year we regress means fewer rights, less equality, less justice, and less access to knowledge. The #MAGA effect directly intersects with the darkening of the colour wheel in American labour forces, particularly manual labour where undocumented immigrants work longer hours for less money.

The irony in the isolationist approach is that it creates a ripple effect felt by every nation in the world. From travel bans, deportations, and tweeting about foreign countries, Trump—in all his nationalism—has affected non-Americans in tangible ways.

The reach of globalization makes the “America First” mantra more of an abstract than a practical application, especially when America’s first family manufactures their company products overseas, in countries like China and Indonesia. His agenda is draconian, and it collectively leaves people in uncertain suspension; the question of “What’s next?” lingering over society’s most vulnerable like a bad hangover.

The economic anxiety felt by workers who’ve lost jobs, wages, benefits and the hope of a better tomorrow is not to be invalidated, but why an elite billionaire in a gold tower who refuses to release his taxes, stiffed vendors, and outsources labour is believed to be the American working-class hero is mind-boggling, to say the least.  A “blue-collar billionaire” is not a thing; particularly in this case because Trump did not build his wealth from the ground up, he inherited it.

This election was not a “lesser of two evils,” because Hillary Rodham Clinton is not evil. She’s a flawed and imperfect person, like the rest of us, except she is also a lifelong public servant and a badass woman who excelled despite every Tom, Dick, and Harry trying to thwart her along the way.

The fact Clinton is a highly intelligent, ambitious, and independent woman was reason enough not to vote for her. She didn’t want to change her maiden name as First Lady, and she didn’t want to simply bake cookies and sip tea. The housewives came for her in the 90s after that comment, and she’s spent her career since negotiating between her authentic self and the re-inventions the public demanded of her. Her secrecy is understandable, given the level of humiliation, derision, and prying that’s gone on since she was a young adult.

Concerning whether she’s “crooked” or not, let’s get real—shady dealings are common in politics and to solely malign her is to ignore the entire machinations of Washington. For a politician to exist outside this shade is to almost ensure their career as one will be short-lived; it’s the nature of the game and achieving success means playing it. If you don’t like that reality, run for office and draft a reform bill.

A lot of Trump’s rhetoric seems to be a hyperextension of Sarah Palin’s “real America” jargon from 2008. The deep polarization of the country is a manifestation of that ideology, and it’s taken an increasingly violent turn. Since the 2016 election hate crimes have spiked with offenders invoking Trump’s name as justification for racist and bigoted acts. At least one person has been murdered, an Indian man named Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, who was shot to death in a Kansas bar by a white man who told him to “get the hell out of my country” before firing his gun. Clinton was on the mark when she categorized a number of Trump supporters as deplorable, except America might need a bigger basket.

The Trump cabinet is a roll call of the least qualified and most sadistic people from his inner circle. Instead of draining the swamp, he stacked his deck with rich men, and a few token women, who are overtly trying to destabilize the American government. He appointed people, like Betsy DeVos to Education and Scott Pruitt to EPA, who actively oppose the missions of their agencies.

On top of having to cope with the consequences of a Republican-led destruction of pillars of democracy, like the free press and the filibuster, we also have to deal with insufferable buzzwords like “post-truth” and “fake news.” In the alternative universe of Trump and co., truth is now subjective, belief overrides facts, and feelings are better than scientific evidence.

You may not have liked H.R.C. personally, but her vision of America and the global village was one of unity, even if it was idealized. When society widens the circle to let in women, the disabled, queers, and people of colour, it only strengthens the bond of humanity. Don’t you like her? You don’t have to, but she’s shovelled shit against the tide for decades and never quit. She certainly deserves our respect and civility, and maybe even a thank you for her years of service would be nice, too.

 

Claire Rush
Claire Rush holds a BA in Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON. She has also studied journalism at Humber College in Toronto and has a strong passion for (not-dead-yet) print media; her favourite publications include The Economist, Vanity Fair and Vice. Claire is an active member and volunteer with Women in Toronto Politics (WiTOpoli), which serves to empower and educate women within local politics. Outside of Freedom Observatory, Claire has been published in Humber College's newspaper, Et Cetera, and she's been accepted as a regular contributor to the WiTOpoli blog. Claire's main areas of interest are women's issues, particularly reproductive rights and healthcare access, LGBTQ awareness, U.S. politics, human rights, and international relations.

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