The Question: Has the recent US presidential election affected you? If so, how, and if not, why?
You would think that because I live on the other side of the world, that something as remote as the US presidential election would have no bearing on my life.
However, it has a little bearing on my life. I receive retirement benefits that are tied to the performance of the stock market. Not an ideal situation, but it at least affords me a reasonable standard of living.
If the financial world takes a massive downturn as it did in 2007, this will affect my income. Further, throughout the world these days, it’s monkey see, monkey do. That means that if something happens in the US, it will eventually happen to some degree across most of the western world.
This aside; it is still very difficult to decide if DT is a man of his word or just said what he said to gain election.
If he is a man of his word, the world will become a very dark and unfair place with increasing inequality across most walks of life. The environment will also be in great danger as the current elected government denies that climate change exists and this spells danger to the entire world.
If climate deniers continue to have the chair, we will reach a point of no return from which there will be no coming back and this will be truly catastrophic. Low lying land will disappear, rainfall will decrease markedly and many currently inhabited parts of the world will become uninhabitable.
Although many Americans argue that Clinton won the popular vote, the reality is that she didn’t win the presidential election. Had this election been held in Australia, where voting is compulsory, I’m pretty sure neither candidate would have even gained preselection as their respective parties would have deemed them unelectable.
This is part of the key to reforming the US electoral process. Not enough people in the US vote. This allows politicians to manipulate the voters. The scour the demographics, determine what demographic will appeal to their policies and candidate and focus on them, to the detriment of every other group.
Compulsory voting ensures that everybody has a say because everybody not only has a stake, but they all have a vote. It an unfortunate flaw in the US electoral system. Although many people argue that it violates civil rights to force everybody to vote, it represents the lesser of many evils in that forcing everybody to vote ensures less likelihood of violation of civil rights by candidates and parties elected by (sometimes) less than 25% of the voting population and in the case of DT, probably more like about 15% of the voting population.
Nevertheless, I can rest easy in the knowledge that where I live is less likely to come under nuclear attack any time soon as it is out of the focus of international politics. I am also pretty sure I can walk down the street without being shot as firearms are banned here. I can still sleep comfortably and safely at night and that makes me personally happy and grateful for my Australian way of life in the best country in the world.
I huddle, my arms wrapped around my bent legs, pulling them into my chest. The closed flaps at the top let in a sliver of light piercing my darkness. My heart beats wildly. “How did I get here? Do I scream? Do I sit in silence?” The air grows stifling, and I lift my nose toward the flaps, sipping cool air that barely sustains me.
I hear male voices and the familiar click of their wing tips against the stage floor. Then applause as I imagine their bows and waves.
They have tucked me away among the props on stage left until the children need fed or their lust grows rabid. But, I am no longer that pleasing girl who couldn’t confront her father or the woman who stayed in a marriage for lack of courage. “This is not my box. This is a role I refuse to play.” I push my hands to the floor and rock myself to standing. The flaps flail as my head and arms burst through, and my eyes adjust to the lights.
The men are oblivious… to the empty box and to my presence. They bask in the continuous applause…
But, I’ll be back…
Like everyone else, the results of the US presidential election came as a surprise to me. As a regular visitor to the US who has the opportunity to talk to a large number of people in different states, I was not prepared for a Trump victory.
The campaign process and the final outcome brought a frightening realisation to the extent the US is divided in its view of itself and the world. Before the election it was my opinion that many of Trump’s views on topics such as climate change, planned parenthood and abortion, taxation, protectionist trade, immigration, international diplomacy etc were archaic and held by only a few fringe voters.
But I could not have been more wrong.
Trump may not be loved by the majority, but his views represent a sizeable proportion of Americans and that has caused me to question just how far western democracies have really evolved. What we like to think of as our progressive and modern society may not be so progressive or so modern. It’s a disturbing slap in the face.
Twice this week I cut myself on a cleaver. Small nicks that nonetheless bled. This cleaver had been dull, lying in my silverware drawer. I sharpened it recently and found that my efforts turned it hazardous.
Have I been affected by the US election? Of course I have. There is no one who hasn’t, and we’re not even sure yet in what ways. I think of that knife, previously harmless but now sharp, able to wound, freed from its drawer.
Since November 8, I have shifted my focus to my everyday exchanges. I help my daughters with their homework. I have coffee with my mother. I give my dog an extra scratch around her ears. I tune into the students I tutor. I show up on my yoga mat. I try to take kindness into my day and I donate where I can.
The actual sharp knife has gone back in the drawer where it can’t hurt anyone. My fingertips have healed. But an unpredictable cleaver is being waved and brandished in New York and unfortunately it appears to be our president-elect. That one, I can’t put back in my drawer or any drawer. I am doubling down for the work I and we must do these next four years to maintain civil society.
This evening on my drive home from work, I was listening to a podcast with a woman trying to persuade a man his catcalls and occasional physical interactions with women on the street was unwanted.
But he could not accept it. (Audio, from zero to 20 minutes)
Because the occasional woman responds in a way he interprets as positive, he remained unconvinced his actions were offensive, could illicit fear. That the giggles in response to his behavior meant anything other than pleasure.
I know a elderly fellow, one time spent a whole afternoon with him, watching old westerns. He was a native Chicagoan, but spent a good part of his life in northern Wisconsin. He was living out his golden years in the sunset burnish of Wickenburg, Arizona, with his large collection of films where the white man always beat the brown man, and his attitudes were no different in real life. And like the other racists, Christians, conservatives, he saw no barrier to sharing his views, not appreciating I might have very different opinions.
What this recent election has indicated is many of the people who stood behind Donald Trump are these people. They feel they have been unheard and unrepresented. And as a result, they turned out in numbers and expressed themselves in volumes enough to place him in a presidential position.
But I disagree. I feel those are the people who have been far too heard for far too long. Because all my life, those who spoke out in support of human rights, saving the environment, who worried about polar bears, equality in education, gun control, free access to necessary health care, anything like that, have always been chalked up as loony, left wing, communist tree-huggers. Who frankly, I feel, withheld their views or exercised too much tact for too long.
So I am overjoyed by the victory, no matter how temporary, at Standing Rock. I am grateful for Black Lives Matter. And even though I dread the next four years with Trump in the driver’s seat, I hope all the voices which are now shedding the tact, and exploding with emotion against the stifling status quo, will be steering the bus. I hope the people who thought he was the great white hope will realize there is a wider world than the narrow confines of their limited imagination.
I’d been kind of proud to be an American. When marriage equality became the law of the land, I thought, this place really isn’t so bad. We certainly have overcome a lot of prejudice. We even elected an Afro-American president. Progress, Baby!
But then, Donald Trump declared in June 2015 that he was running for President. Nobody thought he was serious. Nobody thought he would make it. He was an equal opportunity offender.
John McCain a hero? I like soldiers that weren’t captured. Mexican immigrants? Mexico is not sending their best…murderers, racists…
Women are pigs and slobs.
He spread his contempt like manure on despised minorities but also on the rich and powerful, on the press and the Republican party.
Some of the public ate the message up, especially after 6 years of Republican-led gridlock and media more concerned with gossip than truth.
Not, me, though, I was always Never Trump, but he won anyway.
I don’t believe for a minute that he won fair and square, but there’s nothing to be done it seems.
I thought that my responsibility might end with the election of good people, but now I understand the saying Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
Wake up, Citizens.
NEXT WEEK’S QUESTION: You know that moment you wish you had the just the right response to really make your point, a zinger, but it only came to you after the conversation? It’s maddening. But, can you relate a time when those words really did come to you in the heat of the moment, or the time you really wish they had, but they did not?