It is November 2016 and Donald J Trump is President-elect. In January 2017, he will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. I am British born Nigerian who has watched the election campaigns from across the pond with a combination of horror and fascination. There was initially a sense of shock and disbelief when it became increasingly clear that Trump was heading towards victory. When the result was final, cries of ‘how could this happen?’, ‘how has it come to this?’, ‘we did not think the American people would do this!’, were being thrown about. But I think if people really took the temperature, if they really listened, they would not be surprised. I was not surprised. I was hopeful that common sense would prevail but it seemed that a different type of common sensibility was at large, on our doorstep like a pile of the proverbial. It leaves me cold to think that a group of some people now think that their heinous attitudes, words and actions are now credible, have a morale and legal platform sanctioned by the highest office in the land. In some ways, a part of me refuses to acknowledge that this will come to anything, part of me says, well somebody will stop this. But I think that these thoughts bounce around in a silent echo chamber because look where we are today.
Now the dust is settling and the world and his wife are in post-election analysis mode. Apparently, now people are able to tell us, that the result was inevitable, people are telling us that there was no one single cause but a mixture of things. People are saying that we have to move on and work with this new leader and pave a new way forward. I listen and watch with horror and fascination. I could not really tell you what Hilary Clinton stood for as the Democratic candidate, I could hazard a guess at what tell you what Donald Trump stood for as the ‘Republican’ candidate. But I could tell you about all the chatter and nonsense that was presented to me by social media and snippets of the news. The media told me that Donald Trump was making racist comments (with regard to many number of things that he said about Mexicans), misogynistic (based on his comments and statements about women). I understood he wants to run American differently – jobs for Americans in America, limited involvement in international affairs, repealing of the laws and progress made around affordable health care, reproduction, and same sex marriage. I heard that he would not declare his taxes, that there were issues of fraud in some of his businesses and claims that he did not pay his workers. As for Hilary Clinton, I am not sure I every really heard her voice. It was drowned out by the ‘scandals’ of those ’emails’ and ‘servers’ and ‘FBI investigation’. I was told that she was corrupt and responsible for Benghazi. I was told that she was cosying up to the big players in the media and the banks, I was told she was corrupt and a criminal. I was also told that she was very well qualified to the job of President of the United States. I read a few articles on her life time achievements. However even as I read this, I knew that the people that were going out to vote, were not interested in this. I am beginning to understand that outside of the fans and fanatics, everybody else in America, saw the choice between Hilary and Donald as one of choosing the least worst candidate. I suppose, because I do not live in America, this reality was lost on me. What I could not understand at first was when it came to choosing Trump, people would often say that they that they just could not bring themselves to vote for Hilary. They would say that Trump was offering something new, change, a shake up at the system. What disturbed me and concerned me was that, in that bold, brave new world, narrative, was there was no acknowledgement that many of the things that he has said during the campaign were offensive. There seemed to be no acknowledgement that the some of the people and groups that have endorsed his campaign stood for abhorrent ideals. There seems to be no acknowledgement that this was an inherently a bad thing. There seems no acknowledgement that effectively endorsing this ideals was going to be bad for society and sent the wrong message to the world and the next generation. It was disheartening, it was depressing. It was a real eye-opener. I am bracing myself for the next few weeks of “why did you vote for Trump?” interviews. So far these these discussions range from the inarticulate, ill-formed arguments to the intelligent answers. Both types of answer, in my interpretation revealed a thinly veiled hatred of a new world order. These answers revealed fear and anger and bewilderment. What I primarily thought, when I heard these comments was “don’t you care about all of the ordinary people, no less different to you, who have been hurt and insulted by many of the things that have been the focus of the campaign?”. However I will continue to listen and learn because, they also told me of the perennial issue of human suffering, disappointment and loss of hope and what that does to people and their interaction with others. It told me about what happens when compassion runs out.
I am not sure what happens next. I am sure many people have many ideas. I watch and see but I also know that I too now need to stand up and speak.