On the US Election

Ever since the result became seemingly inevitable, not long after I got back from lunch around 2pm today – this sick feeling has settled in my stomach. After months of campaigning, the United States election had reached its final stages and against all odds, it seemed that the ‘joke’ candidate, Donald Trump was going to take on the world as the new POTUS. And so it unfolded, all of Clinton’s campaigning coming to a disappointing and frustrating end.

All these months, we considered the possibility of a Trump government, but never seriously. It was taken for granted that Clinton would bring it home in the end – after all, she was hands down the better candidate with experience, public endorsements, and barely a foot set wrong throughout the entire campaign. And yet somehow, she has lost. It breaks my heart because I was so excited for Madame President to grace us, but it has happened. She has lost, Obama is stepping down, and Donald Trump will sit in the White House for the next 4 years.

I am angry – that millions of Americans feel disengaged, not represented or otherwise made to not care about their electoral power and therefore didn’t vote in this election. I am frustrated that in 2016, nothing got through to them. And  I understand that a portion of this number would have voted for Trump and I don’t care. I believe that the right to vote is a responsibility and should be honoured and treated as such, and I believe that everybody has a responsibility to vote. Coming from a country with compulsory voting, I see how much people don’t care about their votes and choose to throw them away. Still, I think this is better than never engaging in the first place.

I am devastated for the minorities within the United States who are facing down 4 years of subjugation. For women, the LGBT community, and all POC, I extend my deepest sympathy and support. The world is with you, a vast number of your fellow citizens are with you and we will endure. I can’t pretend to know what you will experience under this new administration, but I hope it is less than we fear. The months that follow will be trying and probably frightening at times; I hope we can support one another and lend our voices where we are needed to prove that we cannot be silenced as Donald Trump would have us be. I am shaken by the vitriol that has been spewed at these communities, will continue to be put forth. We can no longer deny the sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted heart of our societies, because today a President was elected as a result of it. I can’t reconcile myself to that – can you?

I am frustrated by the people I see on social media who are only now realising their views were flawed or blinkered by their own privilege. Earlier today, I was furious at the men I saw who suddenly realised that when women point out issues of sexism – they’re usually correct. Throughout the last few weeks, I saw a number of men questioning and challenging the notion that the campaign against Hillary Clinton was run on sexism so let me just clear that up for you – it was. Without question. If she were a man, this outcome would have been different. Please don’t pander to me and tell me that you see my point now because it’s too late. We were right, and you didn’t listen, and she lost. It has taken me until now to calm down, and still as I write this I can feel my stomach churn again and I swear if I ever see another person telling me that what I’m calling out isn’t sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic/otherwise offensive and oppressive I’m going to lose it. This is my threshold, this has to be the limit for us all. We must do better, be better.

For all my friends in countries other than the United States of America – this is an opportunity for us to realise the path that politics is going down globally. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking that this result is limited to a country across the ocean when worldwide we are seeing a shift in politics towards the cruel and inhumane. Don’t just laugh at America because “this is what happens” in the United States; “this” is happening all over the world. In Australia, our Conservative government is daily working towards limiting the freedoms of its people and ensuring that minority groups’ rights are limited even further. Who are we to cast judgement? How dare we??

Above all else, I am saddened that what could have been a historic moment has been reduced to the status quo. The past 8 years of the Obama administration was the exception; as it turns out, we are not yet as exceptional as we feel. I hope that Hillary Clinton is as proud of her campaign as I am to have been alive to witness it. Whatever her failings – and I will not deny there were many – she was a formidable candidate and I am bitterly disappointed that we will not find out what kind of a President she would have been.

But we can learn from this. I hope beyond all hope that we learn from this. While we may be bruised by today, we must never let ourselves be discouraged permanently. While I let myself feel angry tonight – tomorrow I will use my anger to motivate me to work for a world I want to live in.  The best we can hope for is that when the election of 2020 rolls around, we have learned from our mistakes and are ready to be accountable and face up to what must be done.

 

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