Donald Trump is officially the next president of the United States. I just…really don’t understand. Nor does about 95% of my social media feed. Nor any Kiwi who has broached the topic of politics with me for the last year. At the DNC, Obama said, “People outside of the United States do not understand what’s going on in this election. [audience chuckle.] They really don’t.”
And it’s true, and I’ve become one of them. Where did these Trump voters come from? Who ARE they?
I’m not hugely into politics and current events — enough to read The Skimm in the morning and get NY Times updates; enough to know that social justice, education, nonviolence, and the environment prompt me to lean left; enough of a liberal arts education to be, well, liberal.
But I don’t talk about it that much; I don’t engage in political conversations, much less debates (in fact, I missed most of the debates…). I don’t like the two-party system, and I don’t think Clinton was such a stellar candidate either. I thought it was pretty entertaining when all the major newspapers banded together to antagonistically uncover incriminating reports about Trump on the same weekend. John Oliver’s #makeDonalddrumpfagain was genius. I care enough to have done some research and submitted my absentee ballot. I wouldn’t really say #ImwithHer, but I thought she was definitely the lesser of two evils.
I asked my best friend a few weeks ago for some insight into the domestic political landscape I have lost sight of.
“Jessica, I cannot in good faith vote for Clinton. She’s a deceitful liar.”
“And you can vote for Trump?!”
“He’s a big bully, but maybe that’s what America needs.”
Face. Palm. I cannot. The consistent misogyny. The bragging about sexual assaults. The wall and deportation threats. The disregard for minorities. The powerful, empty rhetoric. The total lack of filter. The plagiarizing wife. International diplomacy and foreign policy is in for a helluva ride. So are women, and immigrants, and ISIS, and the GOP…and all of us.
I do understand people’s discontent, their desire to shake up the system and get someone refreshingly surprising and brash, a leader who isn’t part of the “established” system, someone so politically incorrect. I just can’t believe it’s Trump. I can’t believe it actually happened. He probably will be the biggest change agent the world has ever seen. It’ll be different…that’s for sure.
The news anchors tonight in little old NZ genuinely stumbled through their words. I’ve been politically incubated over in the land of the Long White Cloud for a year, and it used to be a joke — “You gonna stay over here if Trump wins?” I would laugh along. “Probably best, eh?!”
I’m not going to stay, even if it’s not a joke anymore. I have less than five weeks left, and I cannot wait to reunite with my family, and friends, and the great United States of America. I do not believe that Trump is going to help Make America Great Again. Politically, I think we’ve been on a downward spiral, and this will just exacerbate it. Please prove me wrong, Mr. President. But America already IS great, as the Canadians graciously reminded us a few weeks ago. It is the land of freedom and opportunity, amazing customer service, Trader Joe’s, unabashed friendliness, the best national parks.
Life will keep going. We will wake up tomorrow and go to work, and, along with some entertaining social media updates, everything in our individual lives will keep being pretty normal. And more importantly, we do now, more than ever, need to live up to the adjective in the name of our country — united. Overlook differences in favor of love. And let’s do pray. Here we go America. Let’s see how the next four years unfold.