Donald Trump is the 45th President of the USA and the story of America as a shining beacon of justice is a lie.
If it weren’t a lie then he wouldn’t be president. If it weren’t a lie then Clinton should have won by a landslide but well over 58 million Americans elected this excuse of a man as President.
Like many liberal non-Americans around the world, I never thought this day would come. But after Brexit, and now this, there’s the sinking realisation that the world is a shittier place that we thought. What we missed, I believe is the fact that the America we know from leftist television, press and perhaps short visits is vastly different from the America that voted in Donald Trump. The real America.
TRUE Africa’s editor-in-chief Claude Grunitzky called our inability to pre-empt Trump’s electoral victory ‘tunnel vision’ and to a large extent I agree. When I studied International Relations at undergraduate level, my friends and I joked about it basically being American Studies because the course was so focused on America. My master’s degree in International Public Policy might as well have been American Studies too. Socially and politically, American hegemony in the world is undeniable. It is no wonder so many people around the world and Nigerians like myself feel personally invested in the American elections. We put America on a pedestal. We stayed up all night watching it. They could not possibly elect a moron but they did.
Just what is at stake for America and the world at large with Trump’s ascension to the Presidency? Trump has vowed to make nonsense of many of President Obama’s signature foreign policy initiatives such as lifting the ban on torture of terrorism suspects, reviewing trade agreements with Europe, the Pacific and China, rescinding the diplomatic opening of Cuba and returning economic sanctions on Iran. The biggest blow will be to the plan, as Trump has promised, to pull out of the Paris Climate accord which came into effect just last week and has nearly 200 countries signed on.
While this seems very grim, we must acknowledge a few strides that were made. California Attorney General Kamala Harris made history on Tuesday night when she won the Senate race and became the second Black woman to be elected to the US Senate. Former refugee Ilhan Omar has been named the first Somali-American legislator for the United States. Finally, for the first time, an openly LGBT governor Kate Brown, was elected in Oregon. These women winning seats is tremendous progress but against the hate brought to light by the Trump campaign, they look like a few rays of light penetrating a very dusty window.
The bottom-line is that if America was really as progressive as we thought, Trump never should have gotten close. The fact that he ran for the elections after allegations of sexual assault and after running a campaign fuelled by lies shows that Americans are not as progressive as they’ve led the world to believe.
The New York Times 2106 Exit Polls show that they’re also deeply divided. And it’s not as simple as racism.
Although 58 per cent of whites voted Republican, the African-American Democratic vote wasn’t guaranteed. Clinton did win ’88 percent of the black vote to just 8 percent for Trump. However, this was significantly lower than the 93 percent of black voters Mr Obama won four years ago,’ according to analysis from CBS News.
Small city and rural areas were 62 per cent in favour of the Republicans. White evangelicals or born-again Christians voted 81 per cent Republicans. Those who had never attended a religious services were 62 per cent for the Democrats. LGBT people made up 78 per cent Democrats. People who felt the most important issue was foreign policy voted 60 per cent Democrats. 64 per cent of those who voted Republican believed that immigration was the most important issue and 57 per cent of Republican voters felt terrorism was the most important issue.
The results of this poll suggests that these two sets of Americans live vastly different lives. There isn’t one united American experience as the media leads us to believe.
Every single person I follow on social media was for Hillary; American or not. On Instagram, I often scrolled past #ImwithHer. On TV, the proliferation of shows like Transparent, Modern Family, Scandal, How To Get With Murder, Blackish, Empire, Queen Sugar, Being Mary Jane, Broad City, Orange is the New Black, and I am Cait, all full of anti-conservative propaganda is scattered around and well received if we are to go by ratings.
I genuinely believed that the country was more progressive so two weeks ago while I read my James Baldwin book, which said, ‘a civilisation is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.’ I was so sure that the world has come a long way. That Clinton’s win would be another medal of honour for heroes who have fought for equality for blacks, LGBT, women, immigrants and other marginalised groups.
In Africa and in Nigeria, I hope that we can get more passionate about our government processes.
I truly believed that this would be the break we needed and a reason to fight more. This optimism was probably also fuelled by something the Economist called ‘the shy Trump’ phenomenon. Liberals and progressives simply had no clue what they were up against.
It will take a few months for this to sink in and a lot strategising will need to be done. We will have to outgrow the things we read and look past our liberal press. We will have to learn not to ignore phenomena like Trump that creep up like a bad joke.
In Africa and in Nigeria, I hope that we can get more passionate about our government processes. We need to talk about it, of course, but we need to take more action to steer things in the right path. Trump’s election should serve as warning shots to us.
In the meantime, I wish my American liberal friends much needed R&R. There is too much work to be done. I hear Canada is a nice place.