Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Means Trump

This is the second time in six months that I have had to break tradition and talk about politics on my blog. I apologize for this, and fervently hope it does not happen again.

So here’s my take on the Trump Triumph.

I stayed up all night watching the returns come in, feeling a sickening sense of deja vu. My jaw, once again, dropping closer and closer to the floor as state after state turned red and Trump rode to victory on the back of lies and xenophobia, the same donkey that carried Britex into town. (I know it’s Brexit, but I like Britex better; it sounds like something you’d use to unblock your toilet.)

His lies were so bizarre, his hate-mongering so egregious (“I’m going to register every Muslim” – by making them wear yellow, eight-pointed stars, perhaps?) that only someone intent on not thinking could fall for them. But fall they did.


The first thing I did when it became obvious Trump was going to win was take down my American flag and re-hang it upside down. As tradition dictates, the US flag is due to come down on Remembrance Day, to be replaced by the UK Flag for the next six months. But instead of putting the Stars and Stripes back up next Memorial Day, I proposed to fly a Canadian flag. (As an American in exile, I don’t need to move to Canada, but that shouldn’t stop me from becoming an Honorary Canadian.)

Then I took the 7 AM bus to Brighton to join a panel of expat Americans invited to share our views on local radio.

In the days leading up to the broadcast, my fellow expats and I mulled over things we wanted to say. But we arrived at the studio shell-shocked and speechless. Still we did all right. (Here’s the link. We’re only on for the first hour. The link is good for 28 days after the publication date of this post.)

After the show, I went back home, had a pipe and a think and a nap. I feel marginally better now, and here’s why.

Separate, if you can, the man from the actions. Pretend he’s your goofy uncle Tony, an ambitious guy with wild ideas. He becomes a property developer and, with his flair for self-promotion, puts himself in the public eye. He parlays that popularity into a reality television show and becomes a national celebrity. And then, in a move you, your family and practically everyone else in the world thinks is insane, decides to run for President. And yet, despite all odds, he sweeps through the Primary. He then galvanizes the electorate in a way never before seen and, contrary to the predictions of the pundits, pollsters and political prognosticators, wins the Presidency.

This nothing short of miraculous. It would have you jumping up and down on the sofa screaming your support, “Tooooon EEEEE!! Tooooon EEEEE! Tooooon EEEEE!!.” It is the stuff that dreams are made of.

But, alas, it is not your goofy uncle Tony, it is Donald Trump, the most odious man on the planet, a man with all the unctuous charm of a used-car salesman. That’s what makes it the stuff of nightmares.

His conciliatory acceptance speech, which he clearly did not write, did not have me fooled for a second. You don’t go from fanning the flames of division and hatred one day to someone who wants us all to live in peace and harmony in a wonderful garden the next. He has been a hideous humanoid since he first came into the public eye and he was still one yesterday. He did not change into a decent man overnight.

Also, there was no “we” in that speech, no “Let’s all work together for a brighter future.” It was all “I will do this,” and “I will do that,” and “You will be so proud of me.” Trump is a perfect narcissist, it is always, at all times, all about him.

I understand why he was elected. I get it, I really do. You’re sick of the same old shit. You’re fed up with business as usual from the government. I am, too. I want change, I want someone to shake things up. But Trump is not that man.

As it turns out, many were willing to overlook what he was and concentrate, instead, on what he was not—a career politician, a role Hillary personified in spades. It was the perfect storm of elections, fuelled by people who hated Hillary versus people who hated Trump. It could never have been anything more than a freak show. And in the end, people hated Hillary more than they hated Trump.

Is there a bright side to this, other than for comedians (who are now fist-pumping the air in glee) and the British (who can, once again, feel superior to Americans – “And you thought WE did something stupid!”)?

Everyone has their favourite Trump Doomsday Scenario, but I think there is room for hope: Although Trump is a force to be reckoned with, he has never tackled anything like the US Government. It is massive, and possesses an unfathomable amount of inertia. When Trump slams face-first into that, and Newton’s Laws of Motion come into play, it will not be pretty.

"Say whatever you want; I still got the last laugh!"
Trump will blame everyone but himself for his inevitable failures, rant like a child and the US will become already is the laughing stock of the world. But (and here’s the bright spot) people with that sort of reality-denying mentality often suffer complete mental breakdowns when confronted with undeniable truths. I’m not wishing anything on my new President-in-Waiting, I’m just sayin’.

I fervently hope I am wrong, that Trump will rise to the challenge, but I think the best any of us can hope for is that Congress sits on him hard enough to keep him from doing too much damage over the next four years. And therein lies the brightest ray of hope (and one that will allow the US to regain the moral high ground over Britain): unlike Brexit, Trump is not going to be President forever.

Hopefully, this will teach us (myself included) to start paying more attention to the people who rule over us. We need to hold these people to account, and encourage less corrupt politicians to run for office (I’d say “uncorrupted,” but we’re talking about politicians here).

Also, I hope this car-crash of an election has sated at least some of our hatred. We hate Trump, Trump supporters hate Hillary (and immigrants and Mexicans and ….). They also hate us, and we hate them, and the Brexiteers hate the Remainers, who hate the Brexiteers.

(SIDE NOTE: I noticed, over the past months, that Hillary-haters hate her with an unreasoning vitriol that stretches the boundaries of mania. I wonder if they all woke up this morning and, finding nothing to hate, just laid in bed staring at the ceiling.)

This has got to stop. (Not the lying in bed thing, I quite like that; I mean the hate.) Really, stop it. Just take a step back, have a cup of tea, or a beer, and relax. We’re all in this together, and if we don’t at least start tolerating each other, we are going to find ourselves in a very dark place.

Like it or not (not, is my guess) Trump is going to be President. It’s not what I wanted, but then neither was Brexit. Sometimes you just have to take the hit and move on. I may not have any respect for the man, but I have respect the office. And I have a choice: I can continue to rail against his victory, I can crusade against him and his followers, and I can unleash my bile by plotting ways to bring him down, or I can not hate, and instead do something constructive.

Because the hate has to stop somewhere, and if I can stop it in me, that’s a start.

But I’m watching you Mr. President-elect Trump. And I’m keeping my eye on that Canadian flag.