It was early September and I was back in New York City when the debates first began.
I was sitting in a crowded bar in Brooklyn with people drinking cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and snickering at the screen. It was fun. Everyone clapped at Hillary, laughed at Trump, shook their heads, and got another drink. I ordered a cheesecake and commented that Donald Trump looked like a balding chicken that had heavily invested in some pretty bad tans.
He was asked how he would handle rampant police brutality against African-Americans.
“Law and order”, Trump said, before bumbling into a discussion about his wealth, or one of his ten million hotels. It was moments like these where Trump became a little less funny. But nonetheless, I resolved that it was just the ridiculous rhetoric of a bigoted idiot who had no idea what he’s talking about and soothed my concern with a condescending laugh. But maybe Trump isn’t as idiotic as we thought, and a little eviller. “Law and order” is a catch-all term that people can grab onto like a monkey-bar. It’s self-explanatory and safe. Trump’s words appealed to a bubbling wrath underlying an American culture that I hadn’t seen in my little, liberal, blue bubble Brooklyn. I was naïve for laughing. I didn’t take him seriously because “no one” did.
As many articles in the Guardian and the Times will tell you, Trump’s victory was evidence of a fervent right-wing backlash. Hillary Clinton represented an economic and political oligarchy. She had the media and the banks beside her. She was the institutional, the composed and the correct. She was even trendy. ‘YAAAAAAAS HILLLLZZ!!’ was griffitied all around Williamsburg. Everything I saw was pointing to her. The writing on the street. My circle of friends. The funny memes and Trump-slandering articles. No way would Trump win because the whole world could see his monstrosity through this shiny, lucid lens.
But Americans wanted an outsider. There was an anger that needed to be alleviated through some kind of populism, and Trump was the answer. He mobilized vile parts of American society. His lack of restraint and his willingness to blurt out lies won him some kind of distorted respect.
Trump’s victory cannot be accepted with a defeated sink of the head and an annoyed Facebook post. His victory only proves that as a populace, American or not, we have to fight to counteract the values he preaches. On October 15, 2016, CNN reported that eight women had come forward and stated that Donald Trump had sexually assaulted them. They claimed he groped them inappropriately and attempted to have sex with them against their will. There is a recording where he brags about “grabbing women by the pussy.”
Flipping through Facebook, I’ve seen many people claim that democracy is sacred. In its sacredness, we must respect the decision America has made, and move on with it peacefully. Though these statements seem to take a moral high ground, I would urge them to remember that hate was never resolved by simple acquiescence. We have entered a phase defined by anger, and that anger has turned into the bullying of the marginalized. We must all, then, fight for those marginalized. I will not accept a country that defunds organizations like Planned Parenthood which respect the rights of my body. I will not accept racism. I will not accept someone who disregards the presence of police brutality and uses it to stress an increase in “law and order”.
It is devastating to be associated with a country that elects someone who brags about grabbing the genitalia of women without their consent, and has been accused of doing so, at least eight times. I have lived away from America for over four years, but I have never felt so detached from it. Donald Trump is not just a bully, but a representation of a wave of social hatred that needs to be resolved through activism. But moving to Canada or staying in Britain is not the answer. Liberalism is dead. We need to take our anger and convert it into a new left wing populism.