Oh hello Trump
Donald trump- a name that I hesitate to even utter because he’s gotten too much damn
attention already. A man who I refused to take seriously for the almost the entirety of his candidacy, because I wanted to believe he was nothing more than a troll. A manipulative
puppeteer who wanted to get a rise out of people, have his name known around the world,gain even more undeserved fame and fortune than he already has. I never imagined that half a country could vote for a man who so blatantly approved and encouraged racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia.
Yet now we are forced to speak his name on an even more regular basis because he is the
United States president-elect. And although I am sick of hearing about him all the time, I still
feel compelled to raise dialogue about what his presidency means, because many people seem ignorant or indifferent to the seriousness of the matter.
As an American living abroad at the time of our most recent election, I was both devastated by the results and relieved that I was out of the country during one of the most hectic and distressing periods in its recent history. I can’t help but feel grateful that I’m not currently living in a place that’s exhibiting so much severance, fostering so much hate.
But the fact of the matter is that even if I were back in the States right now, I would not be
the one affected by Trump’s presidency and the sentiments he encourages- at least not to
the extent of some. Yes, I would surely (and have surely) faced harassment, judgement and assumptions made based on my gender. My female friends have as well, and their
experiences have only worsened in the wake of the election.
But I would not know the fear that it is to be an Arab person living in the United States, afraid to display your religious or cultural background. I wouldn’t know the feeling of being an immigrant at risk of deportation or a queer person whose right to marriage could potentially be revoked over the next four years.
I got a mixed bag of responses from my Australian-based friends and acquaintances after
the election. Many were as shaken up, sad, angry and scared as I was. But, like many Americans- especially those would not be directly at risk as a result of Trump’s proposals - they moved on.
Several people I spoke with joked the whole thing off. “Easy for you to say,” I reminded them. “As a white, male, wealthy, straight, cis, etc. etc. etc. person living outside of the U.S.” In other words, don’t make light of a situation where others suffer when you don’t know their struggle.
That’s not to say that Trump will actually build a wall or kick all the Muslims out of the country or defund family planning or delegalize same-sex marriage. He probably couldn’t actually enforce all of these things even if he wanted to, which gives some people peace of mind about his “reign”, if you will.
What Trump has already done, however, is promote tension within the country. A disdain for those who are “different”, a nostalgia for the America that once was, a belief that if we pray hard enough and hate strongly enough, we’ll be blessed with financial security and perfect, gender-normative children and white-washed America.
And that’s the scary part- not what Donald Trump has done or will do, but what his supporters are capable of. The Ku Klux Klan has been increasingly active in my home state (and others) post-election. Hate crimes have been on the rise. Women have been sexually assaulted by men who use Trump as their inspiration, motivation, justification.
A shit storm is upon us. I’m afraid to see what will become of my home country over the next four years. But as much as I see Donald Trump’s presidency as a threat- to freedom, equality, compassion, understanding- I also see it as an opportunity. Because it is a reason to rise up and demand a better America- a better world. One that attempts to comprehend before passing judgment, and tries to move beyond fear in pursuit of tolerance and a broadened perception of others.
There is no telling what Trump’s presidency will look like because there is no precedent for a leader such as himself- one with no real political experience, a public presence as large as his, and such apathy towards maintaining the level of professionalism that other candidates strive for. But I can tell you that this moment will go down in history and that I believe the 2016 election will change the course of U.S. politics as we know it- for better or for worse.
Some say that all we can do now is wait for the governments’ next move, but I think that we are capable of much more than that. We can wait, we can observe, and then we can plan a counter-attack to the injustice that Trump will inevitably serve up.