A week later and people are still talking about the morning after the US election. Waking to a world where yet another Simpson’s prediction has come to life, this poem might very well be appropriate to how people are feeling post election.
However, in a democratic country where the people get to choose their own leader through a democratic voting system, the people have spoken. It might only have been half the population turning out to vote on this most crucial of decisions, but democracy is democracy, and these are the rules by which we live.
So now the dust is settling, and yes, even for us who aren’t American we are crucially aware of how very big a deal this is, what happens next? For clues perhaps we can look at the calm poise that we’ve come to associate with Obama’s speeches, examine the carefully and positively worded concession speech from Clinton, and be hopeful about the promises made in Trump’s victory speech. Trump doesn’t speak like a politician, he doesn’t have that polished finish to his words that we see in candidates who have long been in the system. But he has clearly said some things to which voting Americans can relate.
If Trump has one strength it is his persuasive language. He knows where to lay blows, the right words to say for maximum impact; there are only so many times he could call Crooked Clinton a liar both to her face and out there in Twitterland before his words would start to subliminally sink in. He is also an expert at using the right body language to make a point, an unconscious verbal system that appeals to our fears for our futures and gives us hope when he says that he’s got a plan. Some of us it appears even believe him.
We were all shocked by the clear misogynistic locker room talk Trump was found guilty of during the election campaign, and yet he attacked the dirty language used by Jay Z during a Clinton rally. Clinton herself has been guilty of a few of her own hypocrisies in her career, from her initial silence over the Standing Rock pipeline to her delayed support for gay marriage, and even the fiasco that means we can’t even mutter the world email without getting a nervous twitch: at least she was willing to own up to that (sort of) on SNL, however.
Clinton’s concession speech vowed to keep fighting against that glass ceiling that results in a gender gap in both salary and recognition in the workplace. She talks of equality for all, embracing our differences and never giving up that fight. Trump speaks of closing down all borders, building an invisible wall to keep illegals out, and open discrimination against Muslims in the name of the fight on terror. Because of course, terrorism only occurs in faiths other than Christianity. The KKK isn’t designated a terrorist organisation, after all.
Living by the book?
This scene from West Wing has become all the more relevant in the months leading up to the election, because as President Bartlett so beautifully points out, the words written in the Bible are not necessarily applicable to today’s society. With Trump’s continual testimony of being in favour of ‘traditional marriage between a man and a woman’, is all the hard work that has been done on LGBT rights about to be unravelled?
Of course, we should point out that whatever political views you have, Trump has won this election race fair and square - unless anyone wants to hold a recount. Anyone? Anyone at all? Clinton couldn’t reach the rural voters that Trump could with his conservative promises. She had no way of combatting or competing with Trump’s emboldening of what we assumed until the election was a minority of people who still believed that racism and sexism was an okay standard to live by. In truth, perhaps Clinton’s mistake was believing that Trump would be his own downfall.
It just goes to show: popular doesn’t always mean a win. In the run up to the election the I’m with her t-shirt campaign saw hundreds of celebrities showing their support for Clinton. But even an anti-Trump anthem sang by dozens of celebrities did nothing to change the result. There are however notably more celebrity Clinton supporters than there are Trump ones; post election Lady Gaga staged an impromptu protest outside of Trump Towers, while others shared their disbelief, and yet more expressed their fears for the future of the minorities of America.
Not all doom and gloom
In the spirit of Michelle Obama’s when they go low, we go high, let us attempt to find some positives. Trump’s victory speech talks about him being a “president for all of Americans” and of beginning the “urgent task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream.” This sounds hopeful, promising, something to hold on to perhaps. “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans” sounds very much like inclusive language. He also says of his campaign that it is “a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds, and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.” We have four years to see how truthful that is.
And as Obama told us on what feels like the gloomiest of days, the sun is up. We are still here. And no matter the politics, we still have voice.