It all began when my 15-year-old popped his head into my still-dark room at 6’o’clock in the morning with a silent whisper “Mama, the unbelievable has happened.”
On 9 November 2016, I knew exactly what he was talking about. As the day unfolded, I switched between Good Morning Britain. CNN, BBC, Facebook and Twitter to see what the world was saying about the new President of America. And then came his Victory Speech: a calm, gracious, sane, mature acceptance to take on the office. I wondered, is this the same man I have been watching over the past two years?
As many of us struggle to wrap our heads around what has hit them, I must find a way to express the turmoil inside my head. Words often fail me, and this is one of those times. I have to say something, though; something that makes some sense of it all, if only just to appease my own mind. So here goes, do bear with me please. You are welcome to differ in opinion, in a BIG-ly way, if you would like. I’m not exactly running for President here, so it’s all good.
First, Donald Trump is no wolf in sheep’s clothing – he is a wolf. As citizens of the world, we really are quite tired of people promising one thing and delivering another. We have often heard that ‘The American President is just a figure head; the same policies continue behind the scenes’. The people who voted for Trump felt that way, too. They wanted change, and now, they have it. When the same people voted Obama in, they must surely have projected some qualities onto him that he didn’t necessarily possess. With Trump, there is no such place for ambiguity. He has a string of relationships behind him (so no illusions there), but he also has a clean political slate to start from – no Iran-Iraq war, no Osama bin Laden, no Afghanistan (so far) and no email scandal (yet). There simply is no space for illusions or misconceptions to start with.
Courtesy: International New York Times
We might think something is very wrong with the people who voted for Trump, but what is that that people really want out of their President? The want jobs, they vote for security, a place to come home to at night, a school for their children to attend during the day. They vote for health care. America has been facing a crisis in all of the above – although the joblessness rate is under control right now, and Trump plans to do away with Obama Care, Americans still struggle with an unsafe society, no gun control, expensive health care and an economy that is not growing. If Trump can deliver on the economics i.e. if people have jobs, safety, shelter, education and alternative health-care options, they will be happy; and they seem to be willing to take risks with ‘wall-building’ and ‘keeping-out-Muslims’ because they might just have had enough. Maybe they need to have their basic needs met before they can be accepting, tolerant and understanding towards other.
As a Muslim, an expat, a non-American citizen, I have to say that the past Presidents have not done much to calm the fires of hatred and intolerance. Black communities are still being persecuted in small towns, while women still fight for equal pay, maternity leave and protection against sexual harassment. Immigration authorities and airport security are a combination of ad-hoc policies where both nothing and everything can change overnight. Nobody has any clue, really, about who is being kept out or who is being let in; it’s all subject to the level of fear instigated by the latest terror attack. Osama bin Laden may be no more, but Americans and the rest of the world still feel unsafe. The same policies and the same faces will breed the same results. So, why not take a chance on a new face? If we don’t trust Trump, we should at least trust ourselves – are we not strong enough to generate values of tolerance, understanding and mutual respect in our own communities?
It started with the Arab Spring, moved to Brexit, and now America. A New World Order means a New World Order not just in the rest of the world but in America as well! Despite losing all three debates (a matter of contention, some would argue), Trump has gone on to win the election. Why? Because people do not want rhetoric any more. They admire it, and it makes them feel good, but when they vote now, they want change. They are ready to take risks. Many of the people who voted for Trump found the alternative to be just like more of the ‘same old’. They want change, they want anti-establishment, they want to take chances. A New World Order means they get something new, and not yet another recycled, remixed version of the past ten years again.
Swing states reflect the state of our minds – we are unsure, we stumble, we change our minds, we think we’ve got it but then, again, we decide we haven’t quite. The swing states swung, but not in the direction we wanted them to. A very close election indeed. As was Brexit. As is Syria right now. A close fight is not necessarily a bad one – it means both sides have had a fair chance of winning, and losing. And we may not like being on the losing side, but we must accept the results. It’s called ‘swallowing the bitter pill’, and it means we have to shift our comfort zones, our parameters and our hearts into allowing the other side in, and working together. The swing states swung because there was no clear winner in their minds. In such moments, we must take our chances, for better or for worse.
Trump – as seen in The Simpsons, 2000.
Look at it this way, this really is true democracy. A healthy opposition is better than no opposition at all. And that’s what we have today – a divisive state of affairs in the world, with people campaigning for gay rights, gun control, minority rights, religious freedom and anti-racist laws. These targets have yet to be achieved, with past administrations having paid lip service to all of them. Is it time to see what the wolf has to say? At least, we know he is not sugar coating his words in debate-winning rhetoric. He might have uttered some very radical statements (I will not delve into his views on women’s rights, Hispanics, Blacks and Muslims) but I will wait and see if the power and honour of the office he has taken on will bring out the best in his intentions. I will wait to see if democracy needs an overhaul – could it be that it is not the best option in our fast-changing global political climate, after all?
Trump has no excuses. His hands are not tied. He is a self-made man with many mistakes behind him, but a huge victory backing him up. What will he do now? As citizens of the world who have watched the Presidential Race of America, hung on every word of the candidates, had a stand on every issue despite no voting power, we are quite a divided lot – just like the American people. And just like we waited and watched and hoped as the American people cast their vote, I will wait and watch and hope now, and give him a chance because … that’s really all we’ve got.
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s alone, and do not reflect the views of FUCHSIA Magazine in any way whatsoever.