South Park Self

the wrong kind of people

I did not expect to wake up this morning to a Trump victory. I also did not expect to have that victory hit me like an actual punch to the gut, since which I have been in on and off in tears. Even before reading Tumblr, with its intimate window into the pain and fear of the very liberal-skewing American bloggers I read, I was wandering around the house mumbling "But how could they do that?" in betrayed disbelief. What does it say about people that vast swathes of American voters can put any kind of stamp of approval onto that man and all he stands for? A ranting, blind, profoundly stupid, narcissistic and sociopathic man-child whose message is all about bigoted, divisive, ultimately venal hatred? Brexit was a faint shadow of this. Beyond any implications of the profoundly broken state of democracy in a media-driven world, I want and need to be able to believe better of people. But I can't.

And make no mistake, this is not just a crippling blow to values I hold very dear, decency and thoughtfulness and empathy. I am feeling it personally because this is also a particularly cruel and dismissive assault on women. Trump is a joke candidate: it is basically an insult to Hillary Clinton to be considering his "qualifications" in the same breath as hers. She is a mature, hyper-intelligent, accomplished and hard-working politician whose experience and skills have been honed across the entire course of her life to the fine point required by the presidency. If she were male, I think she would have won in a landslide. Her unpopularity, the media play with her "scandals", the characterisation of her as cold, or driven, or ambitious, are all the direct and instrumental result of her gender. If she were a man, her "scandals" would be negligible and her "flaws" would be strengths. It is beyond ridiculous, given her clear competence, that she should be so unpopular. It is sheer misogyny, woven into the fabric of media portrayals and voter responses. And to elect a shameless misogynist instead of her is a slap in the face to women.

Clinton in the White House would have been the rational choice, but also the hopeful one for more than feminism. It would have rejected the vile, destructive and asinine flailings of Trump, and it would have affirmed the idea that society is growing and maturing, that we are addressing racism and sexism and bigotry and unthinking greed, that we have learned. I don't even want to contemplate what it's going to do to our world to have a climate change denier as the American president at a crux point where we have an imperative and fast-closing window for instrumental change. We're fucked in that sense alone, even without the likely regression of American sexual and racial and economic politics and their knock-on effects in the global zeitgeist, and the non-zero chance that he'll nuke someone in a fit of pique because they insulted him on Twitter. Possibly it's a good thing I've been playing all this Fallout, I may yet need the skills.

But we can't have Clinton, because too many people voted in fear and hatred and ignorance. Which brings us to Terry Pratchett, the archetypal humanist, whose sense of humanity's failings is clear-eyed and acute and ultimately more forgiving than mine. He says it all in Night Watch, really. "The People tended to be small-minded and conservative and not very clever and were even distrustful of cleverness. And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people." Trump is a debased and dangerous idiot, but the wrong kind of people elected him.

One of the drawbacks of over-active empathy is that I need to feel connected to the world. I cannot imagine feeling connected to people capable of deliberately electing Trump, and it hurts. It means I am not part of the world. More than that, if this is what a significant portion of our world does, and wants, I do not wish to be.
It's actually bizarre how personal it feels, even sitting a continent away in a country with its own political idiocies. It hits viscerally.
That *that* many people disregard the rights of or worse actually enjoy the mockery of or harbouring hatred for women/queer people/trans people/disabled people etc... sort of shakes one's ideological foundation that most people are not, deep inside, actually assholes. Brexit was similar but a shadow thereof, although for a similar reason, because motivated similarly by large scale distrust and dislike of others of difference, only without the cruelty; Brexit was "we want to just stay away from you mostly" whereas a Trump presidency is more kind of "we can't wait to start lynching y'all". Or that's how it feels to me.
Sarah Kendzior, a reporter have been following with horrified respect (she foresaw all of this and now foresees a lot of violence) says "it is Brexit with a lot more guns".
My thoughts also, only so much better expressed.

Surely most American voters aren't really that stupid? Are they?
Some of them are insular, uneducated, ignorant, but I think the main problem is that en masse they're afraid, and threatened, and alienated, and being manipulated by a sociopath and lied to by the media. If nothing else, this whole thing has brought home to me how far from universal is the capacity for critical thought, at least in the sense that transcends knee-jerk emotional response.
Many of them just want to feel "safe" and the changes in America mean they don't feel "safe" anymore.

They want the 1950s back, because they were safe children in the 1950s and didn't see that the world was just as "unsafe" then.

They think this will bring back the 1950s and they'll never have to change.

Edited at 2016-11-09 02:48 pm (UTC)
Mind you, I didn't think the Leave campaigners would win the Brexit referendum either.

The trouble with population density is that, increasingly, it appears to be found between the ears of members of said population!
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I have had this gut ache all morning, which I eventually identified as grief. Grief? That's what it feels like.

In December, that slimy buffoon is going to be tried in court for the rape of a child. And that is who the majority of the American people want as their leader.

Something has died.
No way! There was even a witness statement, I read it all! About parties with lied to underage girls. aargh! I hate the world :(

I am watching the making of The Hobbit while slogging through marking (it's my reward for the pain). Thranduil says "Other lands are not my concern. The fortunes of the world will rise and fall, but here in this kingdom, we will endure" as he sweeps inside his glorious underground kingdom and closes the carved doors.

I called out "I'm with Thranduil!" I want to go into an underground elven kingdom and shut the spiders outside :( :(
I have no doubt that Trump is worthy of any number of court cases and criminal charges, but I actually don't think that that child-rape case is one of them. It seems to have been a very bizarre attention-seeking ploy by some very bizarre people; HuffPo has a good summary, which links to a Daily Beast one which gives an even better sense of the way in which the evidence and witnesses melt away under scrutiny. Trump should be impeached and jailed, but I'd rather see it happen on the numerous things he categorically did do.

The attacks (from both left & right) on Hillary during this campaign - indeed throughout her career - have been deeply misogynist.  I don't think American people have yet reached the level of maturity that enables them to be comfortable with female authority.  So I suspect it may be a long time before we see another woman run for the presidency.  Tragic.  :'(

Edited at 2016-11-09 12:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you for putting this into words. I felt sick whe I read the news and I couldn't quite explain why. But that's it. This feeling of not-belonging.
November 9, 2017 is the day I realized that I have both the skills and the aptitude to be an activist. Time will tell how necessary that may be.

There's a lot of shock here. But those of us who "do" are beginning to examine what may ultimately need doing.
I must say, the Tumblr response of "fuck it, I'm fighting this" has been very heartening. There's a Million Women March planned for January which went viral and had to close down their facebook page temporarily while they worked out how to handle more than a million women :>.

Edited at 2016-11-11 08:00 am (UTC)
I'm gutted by this. Gutted. And yes, grief is a very real feeling that I and other fellow-Hillary supporters are experiencing. I cried while the results were coming in, my 11-year-old daughter tried to comfort me by offering to make me tea. And I couldn't be comforted.

You've summed up a lot of my thoughts so eloquently, I won't repeat them. I'll just add that inasmuch as Trump stirred up a beast of white supremacist, misogynistic supporters, there is an equally powerful awakening amongst the population that voted for Hillary/against Trump, and that's not going away. It remains to be seen where it will take the nation, but I believe these will be, as Pratchett might have said, interesting times.

I'm glad to have the internets that connect me to friends who understand.

I have been thinking of you a lot over the last couple of days, as one of the America-living people I know best. I hate to think of you and your 11-year-old daughter in a world Trump made. Terrifying.
Come home to sunny South Africa. Our shitty president doesn't have nuclear bombs. And our constitutional court judges kick ass.